‘Byte The Bullet’
2017 release from UDR.
Alexx Stahl –Vocals.Hans Ziller – Guitar, backing vocals. Frank Panè – Guitar, backing vocals. Ronnie Parkes – Bass, backing vocals. Tim Breideband – Drums.
Artist location: Germany.
4.5 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by David.
- Power Train.
- Stand Up 4 Rock.
- Praying 4 A Miracle.
- Some Kinda Evil.
- Lonely Nights.
- Byte The Bullet.
- Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull cover).
- Reach For The Sky.
- Sweet Surrender.
- Too Far From Heaven.
- Without You.
- Sweet Obssession (Bonus track).
Germany’s most beloved melodic hard rock band is back with a new release for the third year in a row. And for the third year in a row we are given another fantastic offering from a band that rarely disappoints.
2015 saw them release the new studio album ‘Glorious‘ and then turn around in 2016 and release the two disc ‘Pearls‘ which was a compilation of re-worked and re-recorded classics from the band over the years. Now they have released the sensational ‘Byte The Bullet‘ and I have to say that this is the strongest album they have delivered since 1999’s ‘Fuel To The Flames‘ as far as I am concerned.
The band has had a bit of trouble nailing down a lead singer here recently. Long time vocalist Claus Lessmann left the band in 2015 and the ever so talented Hans Ziller, the sole original member left in the band, brought in David Reece (Bangalore Choir, Reece/Kronlund, Sainted Sinners, ex-Accept) to take over in the vocal department. Reece released two excellent albums with the band, ‘Glorious‘ and ‘Pearls‘, before parting ways.
Ziller then approached Michael Bormann (ex-Jaded Heart) about joining back up.
Bormann had joined Bonfire back in 1993 when Lessmann had left the band briefly. Though there was an album recorded with Michael on vocals it was not released and the band eventually disbanded after which Bormann and his ex-Bonfire bandmate Angel Schleifer released the self titled album under the band name Charade. When Bonfire re-emerged in 1996 then Lessmann was back and stayed on until 2015.
Bormann however was not able to join the band right away so the band got Purple Rising frontman Alexx Stahl to fill in until Michael was available. But, as is highly evident here, the band saw that Stahl was the perfect fit and ended up hiring him on full time, and they certainly made the right decision. The rest is history.
Alexx Stahl was quite a find I must say. He did not have an enviable job coming in to sing on the cusp of two such impressive vocalists as Claus Lessmann and David Reece, but he stepped up to the challenge and knocked a home run here. His vocals walk the line somewhere between Lessmann’s and power metal territory and he brings a fresh and new sound to the band with his soaring vocals. In fact, it seems to have inspired Ziller and company (which consists of the incredible talents Tim Breideband, Ronnie Parkes and Frank Panè) to write a bit more towards the symphonic and power metal arena rather than the straight forward hard rock of ‘Glorious‘, and it just flat out works for them! It is at once a 100% classic Bonfire sounding record while also somehow being a bit different then what we have gotten from them before, and I love it.
‘Power Train‘ gets things started by delivering a hard and fast rocker with some excellent guitar work. See the link near top of the page to hear the song.
‘Stand Up 4 Rock‘ carries on the hard and heavy pacing with another great tune and it brings us into one of my favorite songs of the album, the second single released, ‘Praying 4 A Miracle‘. This is just an awesome song with a terrific vocal performance from Stahl. Another one you can see the music video of by following the link at the top of the page.
‘Some Kinda Evil‘ is a driving rock number and a headbanging beat to it that takes us into ‘Lonely Nights‘, the first track of the record that slows things down a bit. A more mid-tempo ballad and just a fantastic one. Probably my favorite track of the album. Just a great song all around.
The title track, ‘Byte The Bullet‘, is a fast paced rocker with a catchy melody and some excellent guitars. Another of of my favorites.
Coming in at track seven is a cover of Jethro Tull’s ‘Locomotive Breath‘. Seemingly a bit of an oddball I will admit and, prior to hearing the band’s version of it, I was very skeptical as to how this would sound, but the guys took the song, turned it into a metal version and completely made it their own. In the single version of the song featured in the music video they have taken out the two plus minute intro and instead we are instantly greeted with the sound of electric guitars. The album version contains the intro and clocks in at over six minutes in length. A terrific cover.
‘Reach For The Sky‘ is an excellent, upbeat track with some fantastic guitar work and it leads into ‘Sweet Surrender‘, another catchy rocker with a great vocal from Stahl.
‘Friedensreich‘ is something I don’t understand. It is a short, less than a minute, speaking track, all in German, which I don’t speak, so this one was lost on me.
‘Instrumetal‘ is just what the name entails, an instrumental track for the band to show off, and they do so well. As if we did not know it already, this is a very talented group of artists and they do a damn fine job both here an on the entire record.
‘Too Far From Heaven‘ was one of the tracks that the band released early. This one after the sad passing of Bonfire’s early guitarist Horst Maier-Thorn. Horst joined the band back when they were still calling themselves Cacumen and then on through the name change to Bonfire and was featured on the first two classic albums, ‘Don’t Touch The Light‘ and ‘Fireworks‘, and helped to write such classics as ‘Sweet Obssession‘ and ‘American Nights‘. The band released a music video for the song as a tribute to Horst which you can see by following the link near the top of the page. A terrific rocker.
‘Without You‘ starts with solo piano before the drums and guitars join in and it turns into a lovely power ballad that brings us to the ending track of the record, another re-recorded version of ‘Sweet Obssession‘, originally found on the 1987 album ‘Fireworks‘ and more recently on the ‘Pearls‘ record. The song, as always, is a classic and this version harkens back to the original far more so than the 2016 version with Reece.
Aside from the one German speaking track there is really nothing at all about this album that I can find that I dislike. The guys really just did an amazing job here and while I would expect no less than an outstanding record from these guys, I was still surprised at just how good this one was. If you are a fan of this band don’t hesitate to get this one. If you didn’t care for the difference in sound that Reece brought, or even if, like me, you loved it, then check this one out as it is closer in sound to the Lessmann years.
Ziller, Breideband, Panè and Parkes are all master musicians and are at the top of their game and, along with newcomer Stahl, they continue the grand tradition of smashingly great records out of the Bonfire camp and this new one will remain one of my top albums from this talented group.
I tell you, if this year continues on at this pace with so many incredible albums releasing then it is going to be one hell of a year for our music!
‘Power Train’. ‘
Praying 4 A Miracle’.
‘Byte The Bullet’.
‘Too Far From Heaven’.