Sweden is a complete goldmine for metal. It seems like that country really doesn’t have a weakness, as it delivers great bands in nearly all styles of metal. One of its current strengths is traditional heavy metal, a style played by up and coming band Ambush. “Firestorm” is the band’s debut full-length, and it displays plenty of vigor and energy over the course of its nearly 40-minute playtime. Before you even hear “Firestorm”, you could probably have a solid guess as to what it sounds like just by looking at the band’s logo and imagery. These guys make it no secret that they love metal, and their riffs are just pure, unfiltered heavy metal. Even the title track, which kicks off the record, opens by sounding like a sped up “Neon Knights” by Black Sabbath. Along the way, the band interjects numerous guitar solos, many of which have a primal, rock ‘n roll feel to them. These solos often take the energy of each song to the next level. Though the band can blast away at full speed (see “Don’t Shoot (Let ‘em Burn)”), they often play just a bit faster than mid-paced.
One of the interesting elements of Ambush’s sound is singer Oskar Jacobsson. In many respects, he does sound like your typical Swedish heavy metal singer (which is a good thing, of course). But the more I listen to this record, he actually reminds me of the singer for legendary German heavy metal band Stormwitch. The only difference is that Jacobsson has a superior range, and is a bit more willing to let loose. Jacobsson’s choruses are supported by plenty of backing vocals. Seemingly every track incorporates some shouting to complement the frontman’s more melodic approach.
In terms of highlights, “Firestorm” never really stops delivering. Both the band’s title track and the album’s title track are easy to remember songs that are fun to sing along to. When it comes to memorability, however, no song is better than “Natural Born Killers”, which is a fantastic display of melody and emotion. This song will be stuck in your head for hours to come after the record finishes, which is likely why it is the closing track. It does help when an album is both front-loaded and finishes strong, but even the middle songs deliver. “Close My Eyes” and “Molotov Cocktail”, while not being radically different from any other songs on the album, also stand out as being incredibly well written. While “Master of Pain” is a bit creepier in its overall approach, the chorus of the song brings back the feel-good heavy metal sound, all while referencing Manowar (perhaps unintentionally).
Ambush does not rewrite metal history with “Firestorm”. Yes, there’s a lot of chugging during the verses, some harmonized leads here and there, and plenty of riff styles you’ve heard before. I would even go so far as to call the band generic sounding. But the most important factor is the music, and “Firestorm” is a killer record from start to finish. As someone who has heard obscene amount of heavy metal in this vein, Ambush’s “Firestorm” is one album that will remain in heavy rotation for me.
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“Natural Born Killers”
4.3/5 or 86%.