Frontiers [Release date 03.06.10]
Sunstorm have never been a band as such, but the name given to a Frontiers Records studio project which is now four albums strong over a decade, the one common link being Joe Lynn Turner’s evergreen vocals.
Past efforts have been a vehicle for him to explore his more AOR side, often by revisiting songs originally recorded by others or lying in the vaults of noted songwriters. However this album sees a change of tack, with all but one song written or co-written by the omnipresent Alessandro Del Vecchio, an all Italian band, and a shift in musical style.
That is not immediately apparent from the opener ‘Don’t Walk Away From A Goodbye’ which has a strong air of Survivor, not least in JLT’s Jamison-esque vocals, but the title track and ‘Nothing Left to Say’ showcase a tougher side.
The best comparison will be with that generation of European acts who have taken the blueprint of two of JLT’s former bands in Deep Purple and Rainbow and made it their own, with Axel Rudi Pell and Jorn reference points that came to mind.
‘Heart Of The Storm’ is rapid fire and heavy yet also has a stirringly melodic chorus, while ‘Darkness Of The Dawn’ has a great menacing feel.
The album is predominantly guitar heavy with keyboards playing a supporting role, though there is the odd surprise such as what sounded like a moog solo on closing song ‘Burning Fire’. There are occasional breaks from the dominant theme with ‘The Sound of Goodbye’ also having. the dramatic Survivor feel you would expect from a Jim Peterik composition and ‘Angel Eyes’ a ballad.
However the faster tracks, such as ‘You Hold Me Down’ with a lengthy guitar solo from Simone Mularoni, and ‘Everything You’ve Got’ come over like a modern day Rainbow.
My favourite track was probably the penultimate one, ‘Tangled In Blue’, with a huge chorus I could see going down well in the unlikely event they ever performed live.
Often an album like this, with his vocals recorded in a different continent to the music, could be a disaster but on this occasion they hang together cohesively and JLT seems to be enjoying a reversion to a heavier style.
With the change of musical direction, this album may disappoint fans of the first three Sunstorm projects and a collaboration under another name may have been considered. However, to me it worked a treat and the album is recommended for lovers of classic European hard rock. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
Joe Lynn Turner (3-part audio interview)
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