Bonfire – “Fistful Of Fire” (AFM Records)
‘…I’ve been kicked in the teeth a thousand times during my career and I often went down, but I’ve always picked myself up again…’. Truer words could not have been spoken by Bonfire’s founder guitarist Hans Ziller in reflecting upon his latest album, which is definitely one of Bonfire’s toughest releases – ever! Fired up by their recent tour with Judas Priest, Ziller set himself to composing songs to combine more heaviness with great melodies matching the winning style of his band, honed over 35 years. Aptly titled, the 11 tracks (plus 3 intros) on “Fistful Of Fire” do exactly that, with the added bonus of allowing vocalist Alexx Stahl to stretch his larynx and moreover, unleash his previously held back energy. Indeed, as his soaring high to ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ and piercing screams add the icing to the chugging twin riffola of Ziller and Frank Pané, who along the way provide plenty of stylish licks and melodic breaks all leading up to the catchy heart grabbing chorus – well, that’s Bonfire my friends! Humming heavily thanks to Ronnie Parkes’s deep bass lines on ‘Ride The Blade’, Stahl exudes his passion along to the contrasting neo classical meets wailing hard rock guitars, culminating in another deep and catchy chorus with the added touch of being very 80s sounding – brilliant. Of course there’s a ballad, here in two versions – regular electric and acoustic – on ‘When An Old Man Cries’ and as Stahl’s heartfelt cries melt your heart along with the twinkling guitar melodies, the huge chorus backed by the big guitars unloads the emotion like a dam bursting forth; it’s like you’re there in some stadium, tears welling as you sing along with thousands of kameraden – truly moving. Crunching in hard though on ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivors’, there’s a definite fighting spirit not in the least brought to life by the presence of world champion kick boxer Tina Schüßler in the video that harks back to Ziller’s comment, and as the song powers out to the lyrics of the chorus shout out of ‘…together we can make it, together we are rock, together we are strong….we are rock ‘n’ roll survivors..’ it’s a definite air punching never-say-die moment to say the least! Returning back to the 80s on ‘Warrior’ with its pumping synth and charged street rocking guitar awash with melodies, nothing can prepare you for the immense chorus as all the instruments and Stahl’s impeccable voice take you straight into overload as you reach hard rock heaven on this absolute winner of an album!