When I heard of a new Bonafide album, my first thought was “already?”; slightly incredulous. However, eighteen months have passed since we were given the mighty Bombo and more songs from Bonafide, I’m not complaining.
It’s been a busy album cycle for them and with a new album under their belt, there’s no sign of them slowing down. Some bands can crack under too much work, it shows on the studio releases but Denim Devils proves Bonafide are band who are at their best when they’re busy. Demin Devils shows Bonafide firing on all cylinders.
After a short, headbang-inducing intro in the form of “Round and Round”, it’s down to business. Riffs shriek, vocals wail and there’s rhythm which is unmistakeably that of Bonafide.
There is a sense of familiarity with songs like “Killer” and “Hold Down the Fort”. The former sounding like an unused song from the previous album, to the point it sounds eerily similar to title track, “Bombo”. The latter has crunching guitar licks with a blistering solo, all reminiscent of Angus Young at his finest. That similar sound rears it’s head on “Rear Stuff”. Though both sound much better than anything on AC/DC’s latest album.
It’s not full of tracks going straight for the jugular. There are a couple of more laidback numbers in “Get a Grip” and “Missing You”. There’s always been a blues edge to Bonafide which was more prevalent in earlier records and in later releases, it took a back seat but it was always there, helping the band craft their songs, giving them their sound. It’s the same here. There’s no all-out blues rock songs but the influences are hard to ignore. Sometimes it’s laid on thick with the above songs, elsewhere, it sits in the background, not completely gone.
While the cowbell is a nifty piece of equipment and any drummer worth his salt should have it in his arsenal, there’s another object of which I’m a big advocate. The jam block. It features on a couple of tracks here (“50/50” which has vocalist Pontus Snibb at his growling best and barn-burner “One Kiss”) and provides the tracks with that extra depth. “More cowbell”? “More jam block!”
Drums and bass are always great on most, if not all, Bonafide songs. Normally mid-paced, you can bob your head along slowly. Bassist Martin Ekelund and drummer Niklas Matsson come together to make a criminally under-rated rhythm section and perhaps the best part of Bonafide’s songs. Between them and the guitar duo of Snibb and Anders Rosell, they manage to recreate their famous “Fill Your Head With Rock” on the appropriately titled Rock ‘N’ Roll Lifestyle.
There’s big choruses throughout, blistering guitar work, great grooves and sleek production. It’s the kind of record which reminds me why I like their work and I can’t wait to hear some of these tracks on the inevitable UK tour. We may have an early contender for 2015’s best album.
It may not have the initial gut punch of its predecessor but Denim Devils may possibly be the best Bonafide record to date. If you want a band at the top of their game, look no further.