Formed by guitarist Hans Ziller, German metal band Bonfire have their roots dating back to 1972 and a band called Cacumen. The band made the transition to Bonfire in 1986, making this year their official 30th anniversary. And Pearls is their first double album, to celebrate that with aplomb.
The band have toured constantly and recorded frequently, this is their 14th album (and there have been other projects too), and while there have been many line-up changes (Ziller is the sole remaining original member), the sound is still classic German melodic power metal, true to their form. The current line-up, cemented in November 2015, features vocalist David Reece, guitarist Frank Pane, bassist Ronnie Parkes and drimmer Tim Breideband alongside guitarist Ziller.
The album opens with ‘Strike Back’, a blistering melodic track, with vocal and guitar harmonies; there’s a nod to the melodic end of Judas Priest (Ram It Down, Turbo) as well as UFO and Scorpions. ‘Under Blue Skies’ has a mid tempo feel, a chunky riff. ‘Diamonds In The Rough’ is a real rocker, the vocals are strong and the guitar interplay is good. ‘Proud Of My Country’ is a good listen if a little corny, clichéd. That’s made up for with a crunchy and chunky cover of Sweet Home Alabama. It’s given the original a bit of metal, well beefed up from Skynyrd’s country roots.
‘Good Time Rock And Roll’ is a stand out has a hint of sleaze, a touch of the likes of Cinderella and Great White, it’s def a track to go back to.
Disc two (Classic Pearls) opens with ‘You Make Me feel’, an acoustic feel, a nicely polished if gentle number and a sound that continues for the disc. ‘Give It A Try’ is power ballad like.
Overall I really liked the album. Some classic metal, and disc one is def 8 to 8.5 out of 10, but I found that disc 2 drew out the album a little much, anniversary or otherwise, and has the commercial ballad feel that many 80s metal bands turned to when they wanted a hit. 7.8/10