Being a Bonfire fan has been more than a little frustrating these last 10 or 12 years , with recent albums released only in Germany and (if it all) in limited numbers worldwide, giving one the impression that Bonfire really didn't want anyone to know that they were still potentially a vital and ongoing concern in the melodic hard rock genre (At least outside of their homeland) ... Then we've had everything from the misguided "Free" album , to Rock musicals such as "The Rauber", Along with promises of a return to "Fireworks" glory in albums such as "Double X" and "Branded" ... records that while having some very strong moments , just didn't quite totally hit the mark, or maintain the strong upward motion that were the pair of very good millennial releases "Fuel to the flames" and "Strike X" (Both stand as the last strongest offerings of the group... Until now).
It didn't take Nostradamus to detect that all was not well in the Bonfire camp during late 2013 and 2014, Hans Ziller having resurrected his post Bonfire early 90's outfit E.Z. Livin' (Recruiting Ex Accept / Bangalore Choir super-vocalist David Reece) and hit the road. Bonfire dates became infrequent, and then came the announcement that there would be "No new Bonfire record for 2014".
But early in 2015 the E.Z. Livin' line-up (Which already featured 2 Bonfire members) was re-branded as Bonfire proper (Hans being the only original member), with the addition of a second guitarist Frank Pané.
Not that Bonfire have been strangers to considerable line-up upheaval before, Hans himself was ousted in 1989 during the recording of Point Blank, and Long time frontman Claus Lessmann has been replaced once before in the past too - 1993 saw Michael Bormann fronting the band for a short spell and for the recording of an aborted full length album (Which eventually surfaced under the moniker of "Charade").
So what of the new record "Glorious"? Well, with the new David Reece fronted line-up we have the strongest, most powerful, hard-hitting, direct, no-nonsense Bonfire record in at least 14 years , maybe even 26 years!
Gone are the overdoses of ballads (often in multiple versions on the one album) , gone are the strummy, somewhat bland tracks that would derail otherwise strong collections of songs (Branded / Double X) - THIS is 11 tracks that put the band firmly back on track. Sure, some will miss Lessmann , his voice being such an identifiable part of the Bonfire sound , but really the trade off is, i think, well worth it, David is absolutely no slouch vocally (having been a personal favorite since i first heard him front Accept in 1989) Delivering a killer mind-blowing performance on every song, And after the first track, all seems perfect in Bonfire-world.
'21 Guns Salute' starts the record off where "Fireworks" ended almost 30 years ago... from there it's a full speed ride into 'Nothin At All'... 'Can't Break Away' has the type of chorus the average hard rock band would kill for, but comes so effortlessly for Bonfire and Reece... in fact so good is fruit of this new union, that one can't help but wonder if the change had been made much earlier, would we not be talking of a band much more celebrated on the world stage? ...
First single "Remember" brings to mind some of the more melodic moments from "Point Blank" as does title track 'Glorious' ...on the later half of the record it's back to the up-tempo metal attack of 'Supernatural Disguise' and 'Freewind Desperado' , but not without another pair of very memorable well-written melodic compositions in "Fallin' Out Of Love" and "Shooting Star".
Special mention also should be made to producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, who's considerable skill has made this one of the best sounding records this year!
Two classic Bonfire tracks have been added as re-recorded bonus tracks , but really it's unnecessary as the new compositions are so strong that it almost seems redundant to revisit the past, never-the-less David does a fantastic job on 'Sweet Obsession' and 'American Nights' (and aside from the upcoming live shows, let's hope for a future live album or DVD to really see and hear what David can do with the older material in a live setting).
All in all a fantastic triumphant come-back from one of Germany's finest bands, certainly putting into perspective the patchy recent Scorpions release.
Sure to make many "End of year" top ten lists.