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Strong, Melodic & Utterly Scorpions-like - 74%

DeathRiderDoom, January 10th, 2010

There’s no doubt that Cacumen (later Bonfire) took the largest share of their inspiration from Scorpions. At times, this Bavarian act sound pretty much identical to said band, but interestingly (given the early date of their debut release) they sound more like the mid 80’s (and often loathed) more commercially tinged material from this band, even (though to a lesser exten arguably) on their debut. To add to this interesting discussion, Cacumen was a high-school band formed in its early carnation in 1972! This really is interesting; like the fellow German band Faithful Breath, who are often compared to Accept in similarity of sound, Cacumen/Bonfire is like their counterpart, cf. the majestic, and Scorpions, Germany’s commercially successful titans of melodic heavy metal. You could take issue on both counts and say “well every melodic-ish German band sounds like Scorpions”, but here I really think it rings true. These guys sounds exactly like them. Cheifly, Claus Lessmann’s whiney, nasal Teutonic vocal delivery is at the forefront of this comparison, but also, the predominance of driving, melodic, hard rock influenced power melody that comes through in the sound, and the subject matters dealt with by both artists. In songwriting talent too, it could be argued that these underdogs come pretty darn close to Scorpions.

But I can’t spend the whole review talking about how much these guys sound like Scorpions, can i? Anyway, one track i really love on this album is ‘Starey Eyes’. A powerful, pop-flavoured, catchy number, that still features some really skilled guitar licks and leads, and a great, catchy vocal phrasing by the very cool Claus Lessmann. Your chorus is bombastic, and very likely to be stuck in your head. Kindof a Dokkenish feel on guitars/vocal phrasing matchup, but again this is utterly, utterly Scorpions in style. ‘Down to Hell’ is the hardest track on the album, with an aggressive Germanic vibe that reminds me of the awesome fellow Teutons Gravestone, like something from the middle of their catalogue. Riffage is tough and Saxon-esque, and vocals are beautifully delivered with aggressive snarl matching up with sweeter, melodic tones. A talented axe lineup on this one produces a very nicely thought out lead section, with a great flavoured solo.

Elsewhere, strong material abounds; this thing is solid as fuck, and arguably almost as good as the awesome ‘Bad Widow’ album. ‘The Day Before’ is unforced, acoustic guitar driven balladry up there above many of their contemporaries efforts in the 80’s, though it’s not to the same high standard of much of the rest of the tracks. ‘Woman’ is very Scorpionsish, in subject matter and sound, but a little tired in title and subject matter, no? The opener isn’t the best either, but it’s fun, and every other song on the album is great, so no harm done. I’ve been a long time fan of ‘Bad Widow’, and didn’t get this one till some time afterward, but basically it’s a strong album with mostly great tracks. There’s no denying the talent of this act in songwriting, and at the individual level. If you’re a fan of Scorpions you need to check this band out, though if you’re against all that is melodic heavy metal, you should probably flag. A sound identical to Scorpions, and talented staff are pretty strong incentives, but try it for yourself; overlooked and talented band.

-DeathRiderDoom