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Bonfire – Roots Award winner

by Leanne Evans at 09 March 2021, 3:20 PM

BONFIRE is a quintet of uber-talented musicians, hailing from Ingolstadt, Germany, who revel in dishing up melodic hard rock in abundance. Initially, the band formed under the name CACUMEN, but established themselves as BONFIRE in the late 80’s, with founding member, guitarist Hans Zimmer, the only permanent member of the group to date. After releasing their last album, “Fistful of Fire”, 2020 thwarted BONFIRE’s ability to tour, so rather than rest on their laurels and view the world in a glass half-empty state, the band pushed forward and returned to the studio. Here, the new double-CD album “Roots” was born. This stunningly EPIC 24-track album shares some of the unplugged sounds of BONFIRE and the band give us a piece of their heart and soul for us to savour. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you “Roots”

“Starin’ eyes” pulls in some stunning vibrato guitar harmonies with chords that are reminiscent of the sultry work of LED ZEPPELIN’s “Black Dog”, yet continues as a track straight out of the SCORPIONS catalogue. Combined with the keyboard work – which adds soulful old-school organ layers to the atmosphere of sticky stifling heat - and the upbeat tempo of the drums, this is a catchy opener to “Roots”. “American Nights” brings yet more fantastically familiar chords in the form of JIMI HENDRIX’s “Purple Haze” serving up a frisky flirtation to the sound, yet with wholesome clean vocals from Alexx. I personally love the extra dimensions BONFIRE have added to this track compared to their original recording, with additional guitar chords, slightly faster tempo and pushing Alexx’s vocal range further, making the hook much more infectious. It oozes sex and the percussion work from Andre adds real character, and the playful flutter of guitar work at the end of the track absolutely delights you to the core.

“Roots” brings so many facets to BONFIRE, really showcasing their ability to master a decent rework. The subtle smatters of homages to different artists comes in so many forms, including THE ROLLING STONES “Wild Horses” in “Let Me Be Your Water”, a track that really does quench your thirst for some sickly-sweet love nectar in the form of a beautiful duet.  “Comin’ Home” brings a soft lilting track and serves up piano chords in the latter part of the composition from IRON MAIDEN “Fear of the Dark”. “Ready 4 Reaction” is reminiscent of JUDAS PRIEST “Breaking the Law” in rhythm and structure, yet also emulates IRON MAIDEN once more. BONFIRE isn’t imitating anyone by any means, they’re sharing their own personal take on established riffs and hooks and drawing influence that simply works and really encapsulates the sound they want to convey. It’s an absolute treat.

“Roots” takes a gritty heavier tone later in the album where everything is noticeably amped up. “Your Love is Heaven To Me” gives a teasing nod towards a chunkier sound and “Piece of My Heart” and “Youngbloods” could easily be mistaken for W.A.S.P tracks with the rip-roaring riffs, epic bass work and soaring vocals. “Piece of My Heart” has an almost MOTLEY CRUE vibe, with that full-frontal cock-rock ballsy-swag about it. The track definitely lets its presence be known, giving that hard rock edge, spitting out lyrics relating to the disappointment of failed love. “Youngbloods” had me rockin’ and grinding with its pulsations; there’s a FABULOUS guitar solo at 2.26 that’s very reminiscent of W.A.S.P’s “Sleeping In the Fire”. Just to further cement the W.A.S.P vibe, “Wolfmen” rounds-up “Roots” perfectly; think fistfuls of “Mean Man” and “Cries in the Night”, ramped up but with the same addictive riffs, high-octane energy and imposing vocal presence, especially with literal wolf howls. The perfect climax that had me positively panting.

BONFIRE delight with their release of “Roots” and have poured a seductive allure into each of the records, bringing a contemporary edge to seemingly timeless tracks. In my opinion, “Roots” can only be described as a triumphant masterpiece! From the effortless sultry sexiness of the intense sonority BONFIRE project, to the cleverly constructed lyrical content to each track, the lushious layers we’re treated to in each record; everything is PERFECT. Although BONFIRE was pretty well-known back in the day, the mind boggles how the band didn’t share the same level of success as SCORPIONS and their other hard rockin’ counterparts. I implore you to listen to “Roots”; it’s EPIC hypnotic melodic hard rock at its FINEST. Well done for keeping the classic hard rock flame alive, BONFIRE!

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Starin’ Eyes – Almost Unplugged
2. American Nights – Almost Unplugged
3. Let Me Be Your Water – Almost Unplugged
4. The Price of Loving You – Almost Unplugged
5. Comin’ Home – Almost Unplugged
6. Ready 4 Reaction – Almost Unplugged
7. Give It a Try – Almost Unplugged
8. Sleeping All Alone – Almost Unplugged
9. Who’s Foolin’ Who – Almost Unplugged
10. Why Is It Never Enough – Almost Unplugged
11. Fantasy – Almost Unplugged
12. When an Old Man Cries – Almost Unplugged
13. Love Don’t Lie – Almost Unplugged
14. Lonely Nights – Almost Unplugged
15. Under Blue Skies – Almost Unplugged
16. You Make Me Feel – Almost Unplugged
17. No More – Almost Unplugged
18. The Devil Made Me Do It – Almost Unplugged
19. Without You – Almost Unplugged
20. Your Love is Heaven To Me
21. Piece of My Heart
22. Youngbloods
23. Our Hearts Don’t Feel the Same
24. Wolfmen
Alexx Stahl – Lead Vocals
Hans Ziller – Guitar
Frank Pane – Guitar
Ronnie Parkes – Bass
Andre Hilgers – Drums
Record Label: AFM Records


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