German band BONFIRE are one of the many veteran bands still having a go in the hard rock and metal circuit. A band with it’s roots going back to the early 70’s, although the Bonfire name didn’t appear until 1986. Apart from a minor break in the 1990’s the band have been active since that year, which is quite impressive, even if there have been quite a few line-up alterations along the way. “Temple of Lies” is their most recent studio production, and was released through German label AFM Records in early 2018.
Surprisingly, this album by Bonfire was one I needed to give a few spins before I could decide how I felt about it. Surprisingly, because the music as such isn’t one that I’d describe as challenging in any particular manner, and because I’ve listened to hundreds of albums of similar music over the years. It does showcase that even with familiar music there is a need to be familiarized with the specific sound of an album though, and I mention it because others who are veterans of the hard rock goes hair metal kind of bands may well profit from giving this one a couple of spins before deciding it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses as well.
Musically we are back in the 1980’s here, the era when hard rock and heavy metal for a few golden years were dominating the airwaves, TV and popular culture in general. I understand that Bonfire didn’t sound quite like they do now back then, or at least that the different people involved in most roles in the band at that time gave them a different sound in that era. Be that as it may be, this album is still a throwback to that golden age, and mainly in a good way at that.
This is a band that know how to blend their hard rock with their heavy metal, using riffs just chunky enough to appeal to the metal fan, and combining them with keyboards, guitar solo overlays and lead vocals just about melodic enough to also come across as captivating and alluring for those with more of a taste for melodic hard rock and, at times, also AOR. This is an album that for the most part exist inside that span and context, and does so pretty well throughout too. I wasn’t a big fan of the atmospheric opening cut, and the obligatory power ballad became just a tad too predictable for my personal taste, but all in all this is a good run. Even the concluding cut ‘Crazy Over You’, a hair metal by the numbers affair that comes with shades and echoes of a few hit songs from way back when, is a creation with enough drive and tension to make an impression, despite of and not because of certain details here and there that activates the familiarity radar big time with possible associations.
Bonfire have more than a dozen albums to their name, probably more than two dozen at this point if live albums and compilations are counted in as well. And while the current line-up is relatively new, they come across and sound like a seasoned band that are secure in their exploits and with a sure thought behind what they want to achieve and how they need to go about it. 80’s hair metal fans in general should find this to be a rewarding album experience, and I suspect that existing fans of Bonfire won’t be disappointed either.
My rating: 8/10
1. In The Beginning
2. Temple Of Lies
3. On The Wings Of An Angel
4. Feed The Fire (Like The Bonfire)
5. Stand Or Fall
6. Comin’ Home
7. I’ll Never Be Loved By You
8. Fly Away
9. I Help You Hate Me
10. Crazy Over You