Reviewed: May, 2020
Released: 2020, AFM Records
There’s an infectious sense of momentum in the Bonfire ranks at the moment.
This is no small feat when you consider thirty four years, twenty band members and several full length albums that have passed since the band’s debut release.
It would be reasonable at this stage to expect Bonfire’s primary member and founding guitarist, Hans Ziller, to be slowing down in preparation for a well earned retirement, but not at all!
Instead, the band have bounded on, refreshing their line up in 2016 (with the addition of Alexx Stahl on vocals), and continued on a prolific trajectory that has resulted in several more album releases, the latest of which is this year’s, Fistful Of Fire.
Taking all of the above into consideration, it seems appropriate that the middle of this release features a thumping hard rock anthem called Rock And Roll Survivors. It’s a stadium-ready sing-a-long, built on a solid pulse that could be taken as a template for much of the material on the record.
Indeed, Bonfire have absolutely used their years of experience to distill the music down to it’s most effective elements. They seem equally comfortable with the melodic lilt of a song like Warriors (on which they sound like a toughened Bon Jovi), as they do on the more muscular The Devil Made Me Do It, where Stahl hits the sort of notes that would make Rob Halford throw up the horns.
The Judas Priest reference is a relevant one. Not only is the production reminiscent of the “metal god’s” most recent album (Firepower) but also, Ziller credits an early tour with Judas Priest as the time Bonfire learned how an aggressive sound could be combined with a melodic approach.
While they never quite hit the same metallic gear as a song like Painkiller, Bonfire do apply enough weight to balance their more commercial leanings. There’s also enough rapid-fire, dual guitars to ensure that even a big old power-balled like When An Old Man Cries (of which there are two versions on here, electric and acoustic) can’t stop the album from being comfortably categorised as a metal record – one that would most likely sit next to Scorpions or Doro Pesch in your music collection.
Fistful Of Fire is a good time record. One that should be listened to loud, with the windows open and an air guitar at hand. While it doesn’t quite have the charisma to lift it to classic status, it does feature impeccable musicianship and an unbounded enthusiasm for rock and roll. Recommended.