Album review: BONFIRE – Fistful Of Fire

BONFIRE - Fistful Of Fire

AFM Records (Released 03/04/20)

Worried that we’ve grown weary of the ten rock songs and a ballad format, Bonfire throw in a few (3 in fact) short instrumentals to punctuate the band’s well established sonic signature, on this, their 17th studio album.

Brevity is the key here – always leave them wanting more – the first, ‘The Joker’ has nothing to do with Steve Miller, neither is it a reference to the movie, although it has the tension, tone and taste of a Trevor Rabin soundtrack.

There’s an almost balletic twin guitar intro to ‘Fire Etude’, then Ziller launches a classical blast of cascading notes, ending the piece in a blaze of shooting star twangs.

So far, in both cases, yes, we’re left wanting more. ‘The Surge’ too is a widescreen slice of cinema, squeezing in the dynamic, textural touches you might expect from Hans Zimmer (rather than Hans Ziller… see what I did there?).

Each of the three pieces leads straight into a very powerful and melodic hard rock song. It’s the main event, three times. ‘Gotta Get Away’ squeezes into the space between the late Clyde Holly’s band, Biloxi and Steve Grimmett’s work with Lions Heart… the song soars, it’s graceful, it’s melodic, it’s blissfully thunderous.

‘Breaking Up’ is as lyrically banal as the title suggests, but Alexx Stahl’s skyscraping vocals lose no traction whatsoever as they hit the high notes, and the track’s tuneful middle section blends beautifully with Ziller’s short, harmonic solo.

The title track follows hard on its heels. And it’s ironic to hear Bonfire lyricising ecological catastrophe when they, themselves – as with every other hard melodic rock band – are fighting off modern day extinction. “Fistful Of Fire” delivers the message with plenty of oomph, so we read between the lines, and see that the band’s cultural stock continues to accumulate. ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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