Bonfire - Don't Touch The Light
RCA Records
Melodic Hard Rock
9 songs (37'56")
Release year: 1986
Bonfire, RCA Records
Reviewed by Erik
Archive review

Ah, the good old days of genuine, honest, quality melodic hard rock. Seems most bands trying to replicate that sound today either struggle with how to properly re-create the atmosphere or miss the mark entirely. Quite often it's necessary to take a trip back and remind ourselves of how this AOR stuff is done right. Bonfire is a perfect example. Don't Touch The Light was their first album following their name change from Cacumen, and let's be honest, "Bonfire" resonates with a wider audience. Their prior experience pays off as well, as the resulting "debut" album has all the sense of industry veterans at the helm, however the length leaves something to be desired. With only 8 full-length songs, this could almost be an EP rather than a long-player.

Following the obligatory intro track, the familiar riffs and vocals of Dokken wash over the speakers. Wait, what? No, that's definitely Bon Jovi . . . or is it Thunder? That's really the thing about Bonfire during this era; if you didn't already know they were a German band, it would be just that easy to tag them as an LA glam rock copycat. However, if you look and listen a bit closer, there's something else at work here. The real key to Bonfire's inherent accessibility is their straightforward approach to creating pure, melodic rock. While their Cacumen days may have held more heaviness, and following albums would be more resonant with fans, Don't Touch The Light could be seen as laying the groundwork for how the new Bonfire lineup would structure their albums. Much credit should be given to the smooth singing of Claus Lessman, although the whole band provides additional vocals.

In short, if you enjoy melodic rock with a few metal elements, such as Fair Warning and Pretty Maids, you'll appreciate most of this (rather short) album. Opener Starin' Eyes might not have been the best choice for the first track, but nonetheless sets up a decent groove riff before washing over into the syrupy chorus vocals. Next up is Hot To Rock, which should have started the album off as it's a great rock anthem with uptempo verses. You Make Me Feel is a well-done power ballad, followed by a pair of harder tracks in Longing For You and the title track. L.A. closes out the album with another great opening riff courtesy of guitar duo Hans Ziller and Horst Maier. They use a very distinctive tone that reminds me of a huge stack of Marshall amps.

While anything but groundbreaking, Don't Touch The Light remains nonetheless a good album and solid introduction to what Bonfire was creating at the time. The next few years would see the release of Fireworks and Point Blank, which only served to increase their foothold as German melodic rock masters. Released a year before Def Leppard and Whitesnake dropped their bombshell albums and before Bon Jovi really got rolling (and reissued in 2009 with 7 live tracks), this is a great entry in the logbook of Bonfire's early years.

Killing Songs :
Hot To Rock, Don't Touch The Light, You Make Me Feel, Longing For You, L.A.
Erik quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Bonfire that we have reviewed:
Bonfire - Fireworks reviewed by Erik and quoted 91 / 100
Bonfire - Double X reviewed by Mike and quoted 79 / 100
Bonfire - Free reviewed by Mike and quoted 28 / 100
Bonfire - Fuel to the Flames reviewed by Ben and quoted 88 / 100
Bonfire - Live Over Europe reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
To see all 9 reviews click here
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 2 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:18 pm
View and Post comments