BONFIRE – Legends (Album Review)

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Bonfire already released an album in 2018 – April’s Temple of Lies – so I was surprised to learn they had a second album to release this year. Decibel Geek didn’t post a review of Temple of Lies, but in short, with the only original member (and owner of the Bonfire name) Hans Ziller and new(ish) singer Alexx Stahl, the band continues to deliver melodic hard rock with solid musicianship and Stahl’s strong (and high octave!) voice. The best tracks are “Love the Way You Hate Me”, which has a Def Leppard influenced riff, “Stand or Fall”, and the title track, which actually veers into progressive territory. Bonfire‘sinfluences are all over this album, and that may partially explain the second release of 2018.

Legends, released in October via AFM Records, is entirely a covers project with not one, but TWO full CDs of cover songs. I fear we may be losing a few readers at this point, but stay with me, because this the first time I’ve ever seen this. The band was about to begin a tour named Bonfire and Friends, which would include the original singers of many of their favorite bands – Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Drue Bickler (Survivor) and so on. Since the band was going to play behind these singers on tour, they decided to record the songs after they’d learned them, with current Bonfire lead singer Stahl handling all the vocal duties. So now you have to wonder, was it better with the original singers (many of whom might be considered past their prime) or Stahl, who is in his prime, but doesn’t sound like any of them?

The Legends Tour was fraught with controversy

Well, the results, as you might expect, are mixed. The opening tune, “Africa”, by Toto, is actually quite good, as is the Survivor tune “Burning Heart”, from the very successful Rocky IV, which is now a backstory for the upcoming Creed II (got that?). Anyway, Bonfire turns in a good performance on these and others, such as “Caught in the Game”, also by Survivor, “Doctor Doctor” by UFO and “Hot Cherie” by Hardline. On the other hand, a song that needs some level of grit or energy doesn’t quite fit this melodic style, so familiar songs like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Lights Out” don’t have the same impact. Still, overall the covers are respectful of the originals, while not being exactly identical, and well performed and produced – this is a great sounding album just like Temple of Lies. Thinking about how this would play out on the stage, though, had me intrigued. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.

First, Joe Lynn Turner, who was handling the Rainbow and Deep Purple tunes left the tour in a contract dispute (he claims they weren’t paying him). The promoter was also advertising Phil Mogg (UFO) as a performer, but this never happened. Then, founding member Zimmer became extremely ill. Finally, the tour promotion company formed specifically for this tour went bankrupt (lending credence to Turner‘s claims). The rest of the tour after the first 8 shows was canceled, but there was no money to pay back the ticket holders (as of November 2018). Now that Zimmer has recovered, and with what I imagine is a large hole to dig out of, Bonfire will be back on the road in January on the Temple of Lies tour starting in Germany. Check out what could have been on the double-length Legends, or prepare for 2019 by revisiting Temple of Lies. Bonfire still has plenty to dish out 47 years after they started!

Legends tracklisting:

01 “Africa” (Toto cover)
02 “Hold The Line” (Toto)
03 “Rosanna” (Toto)
04 “Man On The Silver Mountain” (Rainbow)
05 “I Surrender” (Rainbow)
06 “Stone Cold” (Rainbow)
07 “Death Alley Driver” (Rainbow)
08 “Black Masquerade” (Rainbow)
09 “Burning Heart” (Survivor)
10 “Eye Of The Tiger” (Survivor)
11 “Caught In The Game” (Survivor)
12 “Doctor Doctor” (UFO)
13 “Lights Out” (UFO)
14 “Rock Bottom” (UFO)
15 “Child In Time” (Deep Purple)

01 “Jet City Woman” (Queensrÿche)
02 “Silent Lucidity” (Queensrÿche)
03 “Eyes Of A Stranger” (Queensrÿche)
04 “Tears In The Rain” (Robin Beck)
05 “The First Time” (Robin Beck)
06 “Save Up All Your Tears” (Bonnie Tyler, Robin Beck covered in 1989)
07 “Hot Cherie” (Hardline)
08 “Dr. Love” (Hardline)
09 “Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley)
10 “Rebellion” (Grave Digger)
11 “Heavy Metal Breakdown” (Grave Digger)
12 “Love Don’t Lie” (House of Lords)
13 “I Wanna Be Loved” (House of Lords)
14 “King Of Dreams” (Deep Purple)
15 “Frei wie die Geier” (Puhdys)
16 “Erinnerung” (Puhdys)
17 “Alt wie ein Baum” (Puhdys)

Rock on!
Dave Glynn








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