SUNSTORM – The Road To Hell

I love Joe Lynn Turner. The guy is one of my all time favorite singers and his efforts in bands such as Rainbow, Yngwie J Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Deep Purple, the Hughes Turner Project and of course, his own solo albums – at least the first few ones – are magnificent. Both Rescue You (1985) and Nothing’s Changed (1995) are awesome and even though many of his other solo efforts – he has made 10 of them – are a bit uneven, there are always some really good stuff on them. Also, his effort on Avantasia’s The Mystery Of Time (2013) was brilliant. But there have been some misadventures along the way. The self titled album with the band Rated X that he recorded with Carmine Appice, Tony Franklin and Karl Cochran was good but the project never took off, Mother’s Army was a disaster and the Brazen Abbot project, created by the Bulgarian Swede Nikolo Kotzev, was uneven, even though Turner always did a good job on them. And then there’s Sunstorm.

Now, Sunstorm are not by any means a band as such. The whole thing started out in 2006 as another one of Frontiers’ celebrity projects but when I saw the musicians and song writers involved, I instantly took an interest in the project with some high expectations following. I was a bit disappointed in the self-titled debut but I also found it good enough – and Turner was awesome on it. Apparently, the album was enough of a success for Frontiers to motivate a follow-up. That one came out in 2009 and was named House Of Dreams – and it did little impact on me. And that’s what the Sunstorm journey has been for me since then – good albums (Emotional Fire, 2012 and Edge Of Tomorrow, 2016). And what’s worse, the albums have turned out less and less Turner-involved and more and more as the usual Frontiers projects – write some songs and bring in a well-known name to sing them, not that Turner was the main song-writer in the first place. Maybe that is where the problem lies – Turner haven’t been enough involved. Well, album number five is out and I still hope for a big time improvement.

The album’s opener “Only The Good Will Survive” is a surprisingly good tune. This one runs in a more blues-rocky way, the kind that we’re used to when it comes to JLT, but it never moves away from the Melodic Rock that we’re also very used to when it comes to JLT’s solo stuff. The groove is intense, the chorus is very strong and the song takes on a band-vibe. I wonder if JLT had a hand in the song-writing here – it sounds that way, at least. The title track follows and it also lies more on the 70’s meets early 80’s Hard Rock groovy side. The Melodic Rock melodies are never far away but it’s edgier and raunchier than I remember Sunstorm ever been. It brings Turner’s solo material to mind and that’s a good thing. It’s a catchy number but not radio-friendly at all – very good. “On The Edge” is an uptempo rocker that follows the title track in style and while it’s bouncy and rhythmic it also contains a huge Pop vibe, especially in the chorus. Still, The song doesn’t go all the way for me – it’s a decent track, but that’s it.

“Blind The Sky” provides us with some real Arena Rock signed the late 80’s. The refrain is bombastic AOR with a smooth melody but it just comes across like another one of all those Frontiers’ celeb projects, not even Turner’s voice makes the tune that personal. It’s ok but fails to grab me. But “My Eyes On You” sure breaks the mold here – it’s heavier and darker with chugging Hard Rock guitars and a ballsy rhythm all of which brings on a real contrast when the AOR-laden chorus comes along – and it works splendidly. The chorus is one of those that’s impossible to get out your head even if you for some reason would want to. It’s a great tune with big hit potential. “Future To Come” gets back to Rainbow’s 70’s – when Turner didn’t sing with them – and also some Deep Purple vibes here and there. I love the big keyboards that holds a dark sound and the big groove plus the catchy refrain makes the tune a winner – very good.

“Everywhere” is a full-blown power ballad, big, bombastic and a bit syrupy, the way that JLT’s ballads usually sounds like but on the other hand, Turner sings the living daylight out of it and he does those ballads so damn well so I just have to surrender. I think it’s a great track and he/they should release this as a single – the hit potential is enormous. “Resurrection” is faster and harder and it rocks all the way, both punchy and pounding. It reminds me of the Hughes Turner Project and it kicks some major butt – very good. “Calling” is an uptempo Arena Rock song with big AOR tendencies, style wise much in the vein of how many of the Frontiers projects sounds. Come to think of it, it pretty much sounds like a Revolution Saints tune with Joe Lynn Turner singing – very smooth with a catchy refrain. It may be pretty standard but I like it.

“State Of The Heart” is a pretty punchy yet smooth and silky Melodic Rock tune with big AOR undertones – and a very memorable refrain. Again, I get the feeling that I have heard this before on some other Frontiers project but I can’t put aside the fact that it’s a good tune. And a good song is, as we all know, a good song. Sunstorm – Turner, Simone Mularoni – guitars, Nik Mazzucconi – bass, Edo Sala – drums, Alessandro Del Vecchio – keyboards – closes the album with “Still Fighting”, an uptempo Hard Rock meets AOR rocker. It’s pretty punchy with a good drive and a quite meaty sound – and a refrain that comes with some big catchiness, a really good album closer.

My first impression after listening to this record was that it was a lot better than its predecessor. Fact is, I thought it was the best Sunstorm album so far. But. The thing with all Sunstorm albums is that none of them have been bad per se, all of them have been good while you’re listening to them but the minute they’re done, that’s exactly what they are – done! Here’s the deal, while I was listening to this album I found a lot of really good tunes, better tunes than usual when it comes to this project, but afterwards I couldn’t remember almost any of them, the songs just won’t stick with me. As for Turner, he’s a brilliant singer and whatever project he puts his voice on benefits from it but to me Sunstorm keeps on being an uneven project. The way I see it, it’s time for Turner to put his efforts into a real band or a new solo record – the last time any of that happened was in 2014. Bring it on, Joe!

5/10

More Sunstorm reviews:

Edge Of Tomorrow

Tracklist:

1. Only The Good Will Survive
2. The Road To Hell
3. On The Edge
4. Blind The Sky
5. My Eyes On You
6. Future To Come
7. Everywhere
8. Resurrection
9. Calling
10. State Of The Heart
11. Still Fighting

 

 

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