Cacumen - Down To Hell
LZ Records
Melodic Heavy Metal
7 songs (31'35")
Release year: 1984
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

Long running German hard rockers Bonfire released three albums before their major label debut Don’t Touch The Light. Under the moniker Cacumen, vocalist Claus Lessman and guitarist Hans Ziller released the self titled debut, follow up LP Bad Widow, and this EP Down To Hell. The first two albums under this pretty awful name were very bluesy inspired bar room rock n roll. Primitive yet passionate. Being the last release before the name change to Bonfire, Down To Hell is an important release due to two musical reasons. The first is that this release contains a couple of songs that would be re-recorded for the first official Bonfire album, Don’t Touch The Light. Both Longing For You and the originally titled Starey Eyes are presented here in far superior versions. These two songs are longer, contain better dynamics, and have a haunting quality to them that the re-records lack.

What grabs me the most about the performances on Down To Hell is that you can hear the raw emotion that Bonfire / Cacumen are channeling. Some people might think that the production here is too old or inferior. I say the production is perfect. There is a rough edge here that can only be found on releases that have minimal studio trickery. When it comes time for the guitar solos, I feel the filth, I hear the grime on the guitar strings. Every time Claus opens his mouth I see him standing front and center on a three inch stage pouring his heart out in a small bar in Germany, ready to take on the world.

Musically I am held captive by the blend of straight forward, Scorpions styled heavy metal and the blues. Thick, urgent, guitar riffs bitch slap you before Hans begins to wring his strings in ways I didn’t know were possible. I do not know why for the life of me the band changed the structure of Starey Eyes as it is found on here. I can see someone, unknowledgeable about Bonfire, hearing this song and believing it to be a full fledged metal classic. Listen to the rise in the bridge, the way Claus carries the song. Or peek under the skirt of that monster bass and drums breakdown. And finally, let those flailing guitar leads fill you with adrenaline. The song Down To Hell is an aggressive motorcycle anthem that would make Halford nod his head in approval. Woman is a monster mid paced killer, with solos sprinkled liberally throughout. Oddly enough, the pace and melody of this one is close to previous material, yet the solos are some of Hans’ best.

Down To Hell is old fashioned heavy metal played with heart. With one listen you can tell that there was little to no studio magic to be heard here, this is raw talent and feeling on display. Fans of Bonfire need to get this because this wipes Don't Touch The Light off the floor. Even though the music is a different style than that found on their classic releases Fireworks and Point Blank, this ranks right up there in terms of essential status. Fans of old school, melodic metal in general should definitely put this on their radar as well. This is one of those gems that is waiting to be discovered.

Killing Songs :
Starey Eyes, Woman, Longing For You
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