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Gunfire - Gunfire Award winner

by Sean McGuirk at 10 March 2019, 3:45 PM

In the 1980s, Italy had their own version of a thriving Metal scenewith scores of bands that never quite resonated on a global level. Thankfully, the rebirth of vinyl has brought a newfound appreciation for Italian Hard Rock and heavy metal music, with bands like STRANA OFFICINABLACK HOLEBULLDOZER and SABOTAGE getting the reissue treatment from enterprising record labels.  GUNFIREis one of those treasures, with their first recordings recently reissued by Jolly Roger Records in Italy.

GUNFIREis about as traditional as they come, with heavy JUDAS PRIEST,SAXONand German speed metal influences. They released one EP in 1985 and hung it up shortly thereafter.  Amazingly, the band reformed in 2004 to release their first full-length album “Thunder of War”and is currently an active band playing the occasional throwback Metal fest in their home country.  This past May, founding guitarist Lord Blackcatsadly passed away after a longillness.

Jolly Roger did a fantastic job revitalizing the original masters here, as the sound has a wide stereo field, a full spectrum of sound and great separation.  You can hear the bass with extreme clarity as it pops off the fretboard and Lord Blackcat’s leads are well placed in the mix.  The record is available in a nice package with both black and red vinyl options and seven bonus tracks including their entire first demo included.

“Hard Steel”shows off GUNFIRE’s speed capabilities, with a catchy self-affirming chorus that elevates its anthemic quality.  “Thunder of War”is a mid-paced tune with an accessible flavor that feels like a B-side from PRIEST’s“Point of Entry”period.  The title track recalls early  HELLOWEENwith a great midsection, nifty lead solo and a chorus that’s milked for all its worth.  “Wings of Death”is a highlight, and a bit of a “Dissident Aggressor”knock-off in its main riff and vocal melody.  It’s a militarized jam that displays a darker, more varied side to the band.  “Firecult”is an outstanding song, previously only featured on a compilation, 1985’s “Heavy Metal Made In Italy.”  It’s perhaps the most aggressive on the album, with an extra bit of ferociousness inRobert Drake’s vocals and a pounding bass line.

The demo versions are interesting to hear, mostly for the different tact given to the vocals, on the EP they’re drowned out a bit by waves of reverb.  “The Sea Be Your Grave”makes their inclusion worth it, as it’s a surprisingly emotional ballad with a fantastic performance by Drake.

One of the beautiful things about being a fan of metal music, is that it never ends.  Pick any country on the map and there’s a wealth of bands and songs to be heard.  GUNFIREprove that to be true.  This impressive reissue is proof-positive that the rich experimental period of the early-to-mid 1980’s in heavy metal was alive and well in Italy.  A hearty cheers to the incredible people around the world keeping these relics of metal world history available for generations more to enjoy!

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Hard Steel
3. Thunder of War
4. Gunfire
5. Wings of Death
6. Firecult
7. Gunfire (demo)
8. Thunder of War (demo)
9. The Sea Be Your Grave (demo)
10. Hard Steel (demo)
11. Bloody Way (demo)
12. Winged Horses (demo)
13. Thunder of War (live, CD Bonus)
Mauri Lion– Bass
Rob Gothar- Drums
Lord Blackcat- Guitar
Robert Drake- Vocals
Record Label: Jolly Roger Records


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Edited 31 March 2023

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