Bonfire - Glörious

Bonfire Glörious cover
Borila Rekords
This release marks a sort of crossroads for the popular “German” hard rockers. Having already established a wide following with their previous 14 studio albums, numerous live albums and various side projects, the now and almost out of the blue, towards the twilight years of their career, go for an almost complete line-up, with Ziller, the sole proprietor of the band’s name, choosing to move forward with an almost all new line-up. While Bonfire had been fronted in the early 90s by Michael Bormann, for about a year or so, this time the rift seems to be rather permanent. Also the fact that almost the entire band line-up was altered and not just classic Bonfire frontman Claus Lessmann, is a bit telling I suppose.
Bonfire’s new line-up now features David Reece, formerly the singer of Accept’s “Face the Heat”, Bangalore Choir, Gypsy Rose, Tango Down and EZ Livin’ who co-wrote the album with Hans Ziller, who also took care of the production, with great results. But what about the album itself?
This new Bonfire is in essence a solo “Ziller” album with some obvious ties to classic Bonfire, but also a noticeable deviations from the classic sound of the band, although the last few albums, had been a bit more introspective anyhow, hardly being able to match the band early heyday.
While songs like the opener 21 Guns Salute (Goes Boom)” sounds quite a bit like old Bonfire, the vocals of Reece, that don’t arrive almost before the minute mark, are quite different. Also the overall sound is heavier and a bit more modern with Reece sounding like a darker Paul Stanley in places and not as broad as his predecessor. There are also more keys that combine nicely with Ziller’s guitar. But it’s quite a different animal overall.
“Nothin’ at All” ups things a notch, tempowise, and it’s another nice song, that combines the distinct style of this new Bonfire with more classic rock elements along the way.
“Can’t Break Away” is slow(er) but not so “easy”. It’s a heavy, melodic, number, that again, can’t hide its Kiss influence, but is a little more indulgent. It’s one of the better songs of the album really.
“Remember” is an almost ballad for the most part, that would not be out of place on a Bangalore Choir album, but seems to rock it up quite a bit during the chorus…
“Fallin’ Outta Love” however is an all-out, power ballad and while Reece is different to Lessman, he proves himself to not be a lesser man, when it comes to singing. His singing is great, even if the overall style is somewhat atypical for the band.
The title track, the aptly title “Glörious” begins with some triumphant keys/horns before the guitar tangles itself in and transforms it all into a quite anthemic mid-tempo.
Supernatural Disguise”, tries to pick up the pace, and is OK, but apart from the chorus, seems to plod in a bit. It has some nice guitar interplay in the middle solos, breaks etc., but I’m rather certain it could have turned out a bit better.
It’s followed by the largely electracoustic “Shooting Star”, which is quite long winded. Its intro is fairly nice, but its chorus not so and at almost seven minutes long, it seems to veer on self-indulgence quite a bit.
“Lies” has a nice riffs and melodies, and would have been pretty ideal if the chorus was a bit more involved and “rich”.
“Put out the Flames”, is the closest thing to Bonfire of old and Kiss and I hope there were more tracks like these. This is the track closest to the Bonfire of old and I suspect ‘purists’ will wish there were more tracks like on the album.
Freewheel Desperado” is quite weird, with some footsteps being audible, which is like a biker, walking to his bike to rev it up... (?!) It’s quite pacier, but really fails to ignite the “Fireworks”... just like the re-recordings of Sweet Obsession” and American Nights” don’t quite manage to pose any serious threat to the originals. Reece sings them quite commendably, but, after being used to Lessman’s voice for so long, it just sounds odd. Some liberties also on the instrumentation are not exactly for the better.
There’s one more track there, the all-time classic With a Little Help from My Friends”, which is done fairly well and serves as a nice enough bonus and epilogue for the album. (New friends that is)
Well “Glörious” is a quite decent album, with a few misgivings along the way, but an overall positive quote, overall. I’m not entirely sure, if Ziller should have called this Bonfire or something else, like he did in the past, but that legal-decision, doesn’t take away from the fact that the album itself is not bad at all and could be considered a valid enough proposition…