Bonfire - The Rauber
Challenged by celebrated German director, PW Polittz, to build an album of songs around Fredrich Schiller's avant garde play 'Die Rauber' (The Robber), Bonfire clearly rose to the occasion, sounding rejuvenated and, shock horror, even relevant once more.
The play, an experimental mix of social commentary and emotional extremes doesn't easily lend itself to straightlaced melodic rock. But here, Bonfire's principal players, Claus Lessman and Hans Ziller have created a set of songs that fly bravely in the face of rock music's usual hotchpotch of clichés and banalities.
In order to achieve this, they clearly allowed their sound to go under the knife, with it emerging as an altogether darker, sparser beast.
Opener 'Bells Of Freedom' is a pulsing, quasi industrial stomp illuminated by a few lightning bolts of brilliance. 'Refugee Of Fate' and 'Black Night' are solemn but compelling mixtures of riff and rhythm.
'Bludt Und Todt' is where abrasive, cacophonous noise meets the voice of melodic rock, whereas the partly acoustic 'Love Don't Lie' (not that one) is an attractive piece of reflective song writing, owing a little to Led Zeppelin.
The theatrical moments, like the too short 'The Oath' or the overlong 'Hip Hip Hurray' may well fit in a "rock opera' context, but seem remarkably out of place on a Bonfire album. For fans, the orthodoxy of the past will be a hard habit to break.
All in all it's hardly the most immediate of music. But that's not the point here. Once you've lived with the album for a while, and tune in to the band's intense journey into guilt and paranoia, the melancholy harmonies and sinewy melodies accumulate into something gripping and satisfying.
Highlights elsewhere include 'Do You Still Love Me' - a splendid marriage of cutting electric guitars and elegiac vocals; the plush, country rock strains of 'Let Me be Your Water' - a song that cuts against the grain of the album, and is all the better for it and finally 'The Good Die Young' - riffy anthemic pop percolated through seventies hard rock.
Many critics will condemn 'The Rauber' out of hand. My advice would be to give it a chance. It may be a hard listen in places, but nothing worthwhile ever came easy.

Written by Brian
Sunday, May 4, 2008
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Review by Brian

Released by
LZ Records / NL Distribution - 2008

The Rauber
Bells Of Freedom
Refugee Of Fate
The Oath
Blut Und Todt
Love Don't Lie
Black Night
Hip Hip Hurray
Do You Still Love Me
Let Me Be Your Water
Lass Die Toten
The Good Die Young
Fathers Return
Love Don't Lie (bonus acoustic version)
Do You Still Love Me (bonus German language version)
Hip Hip Hurray (bonus German language version)

Contemporary melodic rock

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Bonfire - Official Website

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