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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Review: Bonfire – Roots

Label: AFM Records

Date: February 26th, 2021

Remember the good old MTV Unplugged? If we could take the time machine or spin the wheel of time, Bonfire’s “Roots” would perfectly fit the format (although Roots is “almost unplugged”, but you get the idea).

Under my personal opinion, Bonfire was brought back to life in 2017 when Alexx Stahl joined the band on the album “Byte the Bullet”. And since 2017, Bonfire is unstoppable heavy machinery. In the past five years, the band released five full lengths and one live album. After they released “Fistful of Fire” in April 2020 the world was gone all wrong. A promo activity had been postponed and as the time was passing by obviously everything was cancelled. With no possibility to present their album live to their fans, some bands might be disappointed, hide in the mouse hole and just wait. Bonfire? No! It seems Ingolstadt team was more motivated and creative than ever, so in the summer of 2020, Bonfire entered the studio and started working on a new project. But, once again they faced problems. The band had a lot of time to recapitulate their career and think about the next move. When the time has come to finally enter the studio and work what they know the best, financial problems were about to obstruct their plans. But, they asked for a little help. The little help was actually huge for the metal community since the crowd funding campaign was that successful, and the band arranged to record 19 old songs and 5 brand new ones. The 19 old ones with no debate could be classified as the new ones, because I am sure some of those songs in almost unplugged arrangements will be hard to recognize. With no doubt, there will be fans who might not be satisfied with the songs the band choose (I miss some of the songs too), but try to put yourself in their shoes and not disappoint anyone. Seventeen albums and who knows how many songs, if they would ever try to satisfy everyone’s choice, this would be not a double but a quadruple album. Alexx’s interpretation of Bonfire’s classical songs from the old era brought another dimension to this album. It seems more than ever, the rest of the band contributed on backing vocals.

To tell you the truth, I was more excited to hear the new songs than old ones in the new interpretation. But on the other side, I was curious to hear how “The Devil Made Me Do It”, “Ready For Reaction” or “American Nights” would sound.  Will it be empty, homogeneous, monotonous and even disappointing? Bonfire keeps the energy flowing with no fear they will enter the danger zone. 

The biggest surprise is “Alexx Stahl and Lydia Panè, wife of guitarist Frank Panè. 

From the brand new five songs: “Your Love Is Heaven To Me”, “Piece Of My Heart”, “Youngbloods”, “Our Hearts Don’t Feel The Same” and “Wolfmen”, the absolute favorite is “Wolfmen” that I would like to hear other way round – fully  plugged in!

Since 1972, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. With a rich history behind, bands like Bonfire have practically done everything, been everywhere. A new Corona era brought some changes so we are facing live stream shows, online promotions and similar hopeless attempts to keep a scene alive. As many bands in pandemic times are faced with a near bankruptcy situation, unfortunately, Bonfire had to ask for a little help to record this album. Loyal fans supported their campaign and “Roots” will see the light of the day on February 26th. If you supported the band over the years in any way, you will not be disappointed. Just in case this madness prolongs, and the band has to continue with the discography work, if I may say, I would like to hear all the former vocalists together with Alexx Stahl on new record. Since Bonfire is celebrating its 35 years anniversary this year, they can think about the idea in the next five years. Why not? It would be the nice way to celebrate four decades of rich career.