It’s hard to believe that some bands are already on their fifteenth release, and if you count this German metal legend’s previous moniker Cacumen, then you would be at an astonishing seventeen discs. Yes, these guys have been playing under Bonfire since ’86 (Cacumen would be ’72 which almost pairs them with The Scorpions, who released their debut around that time) and despite such a long tenure, are far from losing their spirit. If the power/speed of the title track doesn’t get you, then the “Chuck Norris roundhouse kicking some guy into an electric circuit breaker and saving the day” credits theme “On The Wings Of An Angel” certainly will. Oh yes, those AOR influences are present in this one and have me as wet as a schoolgirl on prom night. Though if “On The Wings Of Angel” wasn’t enough AOR for you, then we have “Feed The Fire” which is in literal terms, just as amazing. The sound of the eighties comes roaring into view with all the depth of clarity of what some might consider some of the best action films ever made – along with their great soundtracks, like this. If you still haven’t played BroForce yet, this is the kind of song that just reminds me of that whole game world. I also had to pause this review for a bit, so that I could get up and jam with the electric guitar. My air-based model isn’t quite as good as what Hans Ziller plays though, so you’d be better of listening to him power through each and every cut on this impressive display of potent heavy metal and AOR all on the same record. “Stand Or Fall” seems to encapsulate both approaches rather brilliantly, making my fucking head spin in the process.
Aside from that, you have the compelling vocal tones of Alexx Stahl who is able to convey an array of complex and heartfelt emotions on each and every song, even though I will admit that I prefer his vocals at a much higher register and his falsettos are far more magnifying than his lighter, spoken word moments. This is the only thing that brought down “Comin Home” for me, even though I will say that I’m hearing just a tinge of Hansi Küsrch in Stahl’s vocal inflection, which is a bit of a bonus for me. Blind Guardian fans need be noted that this is just a small semblance however and please don’t pick up Bonfire expecting “Blind Guardian does AOR” because that’s not what you’re going to get here. Moving back to the album, we have “I’ll Never Be Loved” which I wanted to like, but I don’t really enjoy the vocals here as much as I have on the previous tracks. There are certainly strong points, but I just don’t feel there was as much power here as “On The Wings Of An Angel” which is a shame, as this could have been a real heavy-hitter. Though when “Fly Away” comes back in, I find that I’m once again refreshed with that incredible vocal technique that makes me scratch my head even more in regards to the last track. Oh well, at least this one rocks. Thankfully, despite the rather bizarre circus-music influenced opening, “Love The Way You Hate Me” became a real piledriver, filled with heat and lighting; just like a fiery anthem from The Scorpions. I’m still not really quite sure what the keyboards are doing on this one however, as the track seems to stand on its own without the bizarre solo effort in that regard. Said keys are used more effectively on album closer “Crazy Over You.” It’s admittedly not the strongest of the cuts, but as far as I’m concerned, there are more than enough home runs here to look over it. For a band who’ve been around for as long as Bonfire has, this shows that there’s no signs of wear and tear as the band keeps rolling on. An extended cut of “Comin Home” is included as an acoustic version, as well as one more cut that you’ll just have to purchase the album to discover yourself. If you like AOR as much as I do, then you might find just what you’re looking for at the link below.
(10 Tracks, 43:00)
Purchase HERE (Amazon)