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Bodyguerra - Fire and Soul

Fire and Soul
by Chris Hicklin at 08 November 2021, 5:06 PM

A powerful and melodic Modern Rock band from Germany, the strangely named BODYGUERRA unleash their second full length offering in the form of “Fire & Soul,” an album, like so many, written over the period of necessary isolation we have all gone through recently.

The album kicks off with “Stay Free,” beginning with a guitar introduction that mimics AC/DC both in style and guitar tone. It takes a little while for this to resolve into the song proper which when it arrives is a simple foot stomper, a blues-based rocker scattered with tight guitar licks, including a rather nifty dual harmonised solo. It’s the vocals that really set this apart from just sounding like an AC/DC knockoff, as they could not possibly be any less like Bon Scott or Brian Johnson. With a Punk/New Wave style of delivery, they remind a little of Cyndi Lauper and with an impressive range and power, Ela Sturm is easily able to handle this style of music.

Danger Zone” is a much more kinetic affair than the opening track, with a faster riff and intense drumming from Christian Antwerpen, the song sounds more like the US brand of Hard Rock, again the lead vocals provide an interesting counterpoint to the music, confounding expectations of what a Hard Rock track should be, and the music benefits greatly from it.

You Never Know Why” is a mid-tempo track that serves just as a vehicle for Guido Stoecker to have some fun. The rest of the band takes something of a back seat to his explosive style of soloing, which has the sleaze of Slash combined with a wide range of techniques, and a Satriani like fluidity.
I found “Behind the Clouds” to be an unremarkable ballad, except for a thoroughly well-conceived and performed vocal solo and some peerless production work on the rich harmonised backing voices.

One of the albums best Hard Rockers is “Steelheart” which lives up to the promise of the name phasing in with a downright sordid Glam Rock riff backed up with some driving bass from Daniel “Danij” Perl who even throws out some bass chords here and there, and with lots of impressive guitar runs being chucked around frivolously. Another excellent solo helps bring this one to life, being careful not to just show off for the sake of it, it still packs in lots of different ideas and techniques.

Breakout” veers wildly into British Heavy Metal territory, with galloping basslines and fast chugging guitars. Ela Sturm’s shows she can produce snarling growling vocals with the best of them, this sounds a little different to anything else we have heard so far being very much a Traditional Heavy Metal track.

By far the longest track on the album, clocking in at a whopping 8 minutes, “Fire & Soul” is the album’s title track and centre piece. Rooted essentially in Blues, it develops into something sludgier in places, reminding of some of the heavier Seattle bands like ALICE IN CHAINS on one of their lighter days, the main riff has a definite Jerry Cantrell vibe to it. The track is is a well composed piece of music with a soulful and lengthy guitar solo that justifies the track’s long running time. Sturm’s voice shines on these slower pieces where she is given the space to build her impressive multi-layered backing vocals.

The album finishes up with a song that completely defies what the listener has come to expect from the rest of the album. “Believe” is essentially a Pop ballad, with Country and Western style vocals, and jangling guitars, with Sturm sounding for all the world like Gwen Stefani. The guitar solo this time shows some influence from QUEEN in places, using a pre-bent note technique favoured by Brian May. It’s a brave way to end an album that is typically more oriented towards Hard Rock than this material.

The album has a couple of extra tracks, “100 Mann Und Ein Befehl” is an acoustic guitar piece with Sturm singing for once in her native German. The track itself is a cover of an anti-war song that was a huge hit in Germany, which is itself ironically (and deliberately) based on a patriotic pro-war American song “The Ballad of the Green Berets”. Finally, the second bonus track is probably one to normally skip, not because it is a bad song but because it is a Christmas song named “Xmas is Special”. But since it is mid-November, that’s close enough so I’ll give it a mention. The song is performed in a style that alternates between Lounge Jazz and a Blues Boogie. It’s weird and silly, but it is also Christmassy and if you like Christmas, which I really, really do, you’ll likely enjoy it.

This album is different, I appreciate the effort the band has put into performing in multiple styles, and each is very successful. The palette is wide, taking in Pop, Rock, Metal, Soul, Jazz, New Wave, Punk and more. Quite remarkable that the band always sounds like a cohesive unit throughout this. Further the recording is excellent and Stoecker has full control over the variety of techniques and tones he employs, wearing his influences on his sleeve without sounding like a rip-off merchant. The vocals are impeccably assembled with luscious harmonies often being employed to spectacular effect. Musically there is something for everyone here, but if you are the sort of listener who has very broad tastes you are going to find there is a great deal just for you.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Stay Free
2. Danger Zone
3. You Never Know Why
4. Behind the Clouds
5. Magical Touch
6. Steelheart
7. Soultrail
8. Breakout
9. Fire & Soul
10. Out of Control
11. Believe
12. 100 Mann und ein Befehl
\[Bonus]13. Xmas Is Special \[Bonus]
Guido Stoecker - Guitar
Christian Antwerpen - Drums
Daniel “Danij” Perl - Bass
Ela Sturm - Vocals
Record Label: Fastball Music


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