2020 marks the return of BONFIRE and after a couple of years since the previous album (TEMPLE OF LIES) they are back with what sounds like their heaviest release to date. When it comes to meat and potatoes classic metal there’s no finer nation than Germany and BONFIRE in particular to keep the flame burning bright .The band members now consisting of ALEXX STAHL / vocals, HANS ZILLER / guitar, FRANK PANE / guitar, RONNIE PARKES / bass and ANDRE HILGERS / DRUMS
Although 14 tracks are listed on this release in fact 3 of those titles are intros so don’t be put off by an over long album with filler material, I have played this release from beginning to end on 3 occasions and can vouch that this is all killer no filler.
“THE JOKER” with its soft acoustic intro and Peruvian pipes oozes from the speakers before turning up a notch with some sublime crunchy harmony guitars that is an instrumental intro which morphs into “GOTTA GET AWAY,” a huge statement with its pounding drums, soaring vocals and although heavy it maintains a catchy melodic edge and yet another song in the BONFIRE cannon that the listener can quiet happily sing along to. I just love the way the 2 guitars intertwine and work together on the mid song instrumental section. Alexx Stahl has the vocal power that could flatten an army which is no more evident than on this opening track.
“THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT” and 2nd single to be released is a more up tempo number and a proper rocker, the sort of track that if you played it in your car you could easily get done for speeding !! It’s pretty classy how at the beginning the guitars slowly peel off a short toned riff and those vocals fire up like a jet engine into a banshee scream. The song benefits from the gentle stabbing keyboards that underpin the whole track before it all winds down into a slower section where once again those guitars rip out in true “THIN LIZZY” style harmony.
“RIDE THE BLADE” showcases a solid no frills head down drum beat and chugging guitars, with its sturdy approach. I found this song to be one of the stand out moments showcasing a beautiful extended guitar break featuring both Hans Ziller and Frank Pane in total synch with each other. Marvellous stuff indeed. “WHEN AN OLD MAN CRIES” is the stand alone ballad with hints of “METALLICA” Nothing else matters” intro, it slowly builds and builds into a monster track oozing both a low range vocal and filled to the brim with guitar licks a plenty underpinned with acoustic guitar, this is for me the centre piece of the whole album and at the 3 min 21 sec mark, the track soars to new heights. One of the best heartfelt rock anthems that BONFIRE have ever put their name to, and that’s a statement in itself because let’s face it the band have more classic material than many bands that are currently on the scene.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCPAMvL2KPo&w=560&h=315]
“ROCK N ROLL SURVIVORS” is the first single lifted from the album and obviously picked for the fact that it’s a catchy track with its FIGHT FOR ROCK chanting sections and the perfect song regarding time length, a proper rally call of a track and another one of those songs that you know will just have to be played on the live dates because of the call and response from the audience.
“WARRIOR” kick starts with a blanket of keyboards and straight into another short sharp blast of guitar. With a tempo that is calmer and more about the AOR. Sounding like something more akin to when BON JOVI were a decent band rather than the sell out cabaret act they have sadly become. Again, this songs demonstrates the full range of what Bonfire are capable of writing. To be honest it’s pretty left field from the rest of the album but it works so well slotting in nicely and that chorus is huge, again another cracking moment from “FISTFUL OF FIRE”
“FIRE ETUDE” I was not expecting this not in a million years. This is a short sharp guitar instrumental, no additional guitars, no vocals, no bass just a guitar shredding the skin from your face. Immense is all I can say.
Title track “FISTFUL OF FIRE” is a song with an important message regarding the continued abuse of our planet and the selfishness towards the next generation of kids that have got to pick up from the mess we have left them. Obviously with the lyrical content the music takes on a dramatic affect with the vocals being spat out with true meaning with Alexx Stahl doing his best to get the message across. This track demonstrates a touch of wah wah pedal that works so well along with a drum beat that pounds your senses into a pulp.
“THE SURGE” is another one of those short instrumentals that slides head first into “GLORYLAND” talk about rapid, this is a song on a mission, shifting along like a runaway truck, this has everything and another call to arms for all the BONFIRE fans around the world so anthemic and overflowing with riffs and double kick drums an immense way to end the album with the last couple of minutes up there with the sound of “HELLOWEEN”. To close things we get an acoustic version of “WHEN AN OLD MAN CRIES” the band execute this so perfectly that the acoustic version sounds just as powerful as the earlier electric version such is the delivery and emotion.
To wrap things up “FISTFUL OF FIRE” is something the group should be very proud of. It’s very easy to get carried away in the moment because this is the newest and freshest album but I will put my opinion out there and say this could be the best thing the group BONFIRE have ever put their name to.
01 – The Joker
02 – Gotta Get Away
03 – The Devil Made Me Do It
04 – Ride The Blade
05 – When An Old Man Cries
06 – Rock’n’Roll Survivors
07 – Fire And Ice
08 – Warrior
09 – Fire Etude
10 – Breaking Out
11 – Fistful Of Fire
12 – The Surge
13 – Gloryland
14 – When An Old Man Cries (Acoustic Version)
Review by Steve Bruty for MPM