Bon Jovi’s eruption of fame was on the horizon in 1985, but just before Slippery When Wet would take over the world, be it dead or alive, one of my favorite glam metal gems ever released dropped. 7800° Fahrenheit hardly held any more wildly famous tunes than the debut a year earlier, but the songs on this disc are some of the greatest that the band have ever written. The guitar tones are amped up with extra crunch, the synths drench the heavier and softer songs alike, and the emotion hits an all-time high here. Seeing that this album is now thirty-five years old, there’s no better time to dive head-first into it!
Often times with glam metal, synth and emotion go hand-in-hand, and that’s probably the most prominent part of the identity in 7800° Fahrenheit. One of my personal favorites is “Silent Night,” riding on the opening synth rhythm for the majority of the song, slowly working in layers to a build-up in the heart-wrenching chorus. They hold that momentum all the way up to the shredding solo. Another favorite is “The Hardest Part Is The Night,” caking this on with a heavy side of excellent vocal harmonies. But to the heavier end of this point, “Only Lonely” drives this home. It’s got all of the touching aesthetic of the other tunes with a significantly harder push. The riffs here are explosive, and the vocal break leading to the “time bomb” sequence and eruptive solo is immaculate.
However, you’re certain to find plenty of songs that are a bit more straightforward, casting the same structure to a more traditional rock/metal formula. Opener “In And Out Of Love” is the only song that truly hit the masses, a sleazy take that’s serviceable with raging licks and powerful gang vocals. But I think other songs did this even better. See “Tokyo Road” with it’s disturbing and chilling music box intro, before the band busts in with fuming riffs that fall into a melodic storm of steady rhythms and stomping drums kicks. And then, of course, there are the ones that simplify all of this to levels of sheer fun, like “King Of The Mountain.”
Really, I think the balance between all of this is what I love so much about 7800° Fahrenheit. Moreover, it remains consistent and has songs that meet these aspects halfway. “Always Run To You” is one that’s less dense on emotion but still lets it slide its way through the cracks of hard and stomping riffs. My one and only exception to this point is “To The Fire.” It isn’t a bad song but does act as a bit of a filler. That’s only really chalked up to the repetitiveness and the fact that the keyboards over-saturate the hell out of the music itself. But at the end of the day, it still has its place there, and the album wouldn’t be the same without it.
As I’ve said many times before, Bon Jovi are a band that doesn’t sit well with a lot of metalheads. But I’ll continue to push the idea of how relevant this band could be to them, and an effort like this one is a solid way in. The songs are well written and executed flawlessly in accordance with the general ideas. We all know how much the entire glam scene would follow in their shoes. Traditional metal acts borrowed a lot from this style around the time as well, whether people will admit it or not. Truly an underappreciated effort for what went into it.
7800° Fahrenheit came out on March 27th, 1985, through Mercury Records. Plenty of versions exist in circulation in vinyl, cassette, and CD formats. Grab your favorite version right here!