SUNSTORM – Edge Of Tomorrow

sunstorm-16Melodic hard rock label Frontiers do love their projects that more than often features some really famous AOR and melodic hard rock musicians. Just as often these projects’ contains song writing credits by song writers belonging to the label and other times, hired hands are brought in to make sure there is high quality material for the projects to be. Sometimes it works out really well – projects such as Nordic Union, Revolution Saints, First Signal, Allen/Lande and Place Vendome has been successful in both quality and in sales, other times the records are nothing but a shrug. The thing with Frontiers is that they keep washing albums out over us in a really fast pace, new constellations here, new constellations there until it almost gets a bit overmuch. It’s really hard to keep track of every new project that gets released. On the other hand again, it’s really exciting when they do come up with the right musicians for the project in mind. Sunstorm is a project that that was born in 2006 that features ex- Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen and Deep Purple vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, a voice that at least I can’t get enough of. Since the first time I heard Turner in Rainbow I have been a big fan of his, even though his solo material and other projects he has been involved in have been mountain high, river deep quality wise. But when the first, self-titled Sunstorm album came out, I threw myself over it, hoping it would be an AOR classic in waiting. It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good AOR / melodic rock album with some brilliant singing from Turner, but the songs didn’t move me all that much and it sounded just like every other AOR album out there only saved by Turner’s fantastic voice. I also thought that the album was just a one-off project but three years later, House Of Dreams, the follow-up was released. The album was just a continuation of the debut and therefore it didn’t do that much for me either – good but not great. Album number three was titled Emotional Fire and was released in 2012 and again, it went in the same direction as the previous two. The fact that the best songs on that record was three re-worked tracks, originally recorded by Michael Bolton and Cher, speaks volumes. For album # 4, Turner hasn’t been involved in the song-writing at all, something that don’t necessarily have to be a bad decision. Turner’s song writing skills in his later years on his more recent solo records hasn’t been all that convincing, even though the records hasn’t been bad per se. Let’s see what Turner & co have come up with for this one then.

The album starts out on a good note. “Don’t Walk Away From A Goodbye” is a real AOR jewel. The song has a lot of Journey in it with a little twist of Joe Lynn Turner’s solo stuff on top – I actually get a Revolution Saints vibe from it. If the rest of the album is just as strong, I’d give it a 10/10 rating with the wink of an eye. The title track is also a really good AOR rocker. It’s a nod back to the poppier Bent Out Of Shape (1983) Rainbow sound but there’s also a lot of Turner’s solo stuff on it. “Nothing Left To Say” brings out some pretty heavy riffing and the tune is a bit rougher than expected. It is melodic rock more than AOR, but the melody is still sticky enough – well done! “Heart Of The Storm” takes us back to the last Rainbow years, but I also get a feel of the Swedish project Brazen Abbot (the brain child of guitarist Nikolai Kotzev) in which Turner and a bunch of other singers were involved with and I can also spot early 80’s Europe. It’s a good song, but not great. “The Sound Of Goodbye” is a mid-tempo standard AOR rocker that passes by more or less unnoticed, “The Darkness Of This Town” runs in the same track – mid-tempo AOR that have a big 1987 stamp on it, but it never lifts at all and “You Hold Me Down”, a fast melodic hard rocker that reminds me again of Turner’s solo stuff but also brings Rainbow stuff like “Spotlight Kid” and the likes to mind. Too bad it never gets a grip on me – OK at the most. “Angel Eyes” is a ballad (no shit…) and is just about as original as the title suggests. It sounds just like all of those thirteen a dozen AOR cheese ballads that has been re-written time and time again. Yawn! By now I actually start to lose interest and it doesn’t get any better with “Everything You’ve Got”. It’s a standard melodic rocker that sounds like something penned in a minute or two and it’s one of those tracks that you really don’t care if you ever hear again. Thank God, then, for “Tangled In Blue” then. It reminds me of Bonfire’s “Sweet Obsession”, a tune Turner co-wrote and to me this catchy little pearl is an AOR hit in waiting. Just like the album started, it ends on a good note. “Burning Fire” is a great AOR rocker, reminiscent of “1000 Miles” by H.E.A.T. and a melody line stickier than honey – way to go.

Yes, there are a few really great songs on this album, but not enough to save it from a just ok rating. Everything on it is very professional – great performances, great production and Joe Lynn Turner in his mid 60’s still one of the finest rock vocalists you can find, even though he might sound a bit strained here and there. But as an album, this one is just too standard – there’s no spark, no attitude, no heart and soul, it just reeks of a project. It’s not a bad album, but it’s just no that good either – it just is. See, even when I know that a project is just a project, I still want it to sound like – or at least close to –  a band. Some of the Frontiers projects I mentioned earlier, like Nordic Union or Revolution Saints, sounds just as if they were real bands and that always gets on my plus account. Sunstorm don’t. Sunstorm sounds as if there’s a bunch of songs written and they need a famous voice to go karaoke on them. I’m sorry but this record don’t rock my world too much and I believe that Turner is way too good for this stuff. Form a new band instead, Joe –  a band that rocks – and write a bunch of killer rockers instead.

5/10

Tracklist:

1. Don’t Walk Away From A Goodbye
2. Edge Of Tomorrow
3. Nothing Left To Say
4. Heart Of The Storm
5. The Sound Of Goodbye
6. The Darkness Of This Dawn
7. You Hold Me Down
8. Angel Eyes
9. Everything You’ve Got
10. Tangled In Blue
11. Burning Fire

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