Album review: SUNSTORM- The Road to Hell

(Release Date 08.06.18)

The Sunstorm studio projects, now over a decade old, can be viewed in two distinct phases. A vehicle for legendary singer Joe Lynn Turner, the first three records were a showcase for his more AOR side with a series of songs largely penned by outside writers, many of which had been previously recorded by other artists.

‘Road to Hell’  follows its predecessor, 2016’s ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ in teaming him with Frontiers’ resident keyboard wizard and songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio and other Italian musicians, including guitarist Simone Mularoni, for a sound more akin to the melodic hard rock of Rainbow and Deep Purple, perhaps the two acts the veteran singer is most remembered for.

Recorded before his recent heart scare, the good news is that JLT’s voice sounds sharp and crystal crisp and clear, to best effect on the stately, menacing title track which has the air of a more melodic Dio. The fact he has co-written all but one song gives the album a more coherent identity but, while well constructed, the songs are let down by a rather sterile production with a weak drum sound that feels like an afterthought.

The likes of ‘Blind the Sky’ are reminiscent of what for me was one of his finest hours with the Hughes Turner Project in the early 2000’s, the only complaint being that the tempo and style of the songs are too similar, although ‘State of the Heart’ harks back to the more melodic direction of the earlier albums.

Finally midway through there is a change of pace in ‘Everywhere’,  an epic,  piano led ballad with many of Del Vecchio’s hallmarks of his writing for the likes of Hardline and Revolution Saints.

In contrast the following track ‘Resurrection’ is faster paced and the Purple and Rainbow comparisons come thick and fast. It is also one of the songs on which the Hammond organ is the prominent keyboard sound. Personally I think the overall vibe of this album would have benefited from the balance being tipped further in this direction.

While a solid release which shows off JLT’s evergreen voice, its rather generic feel and disappointing production mean that it fails to stand out from a crowded field.

*** 3/4

Review by Andy Nathan

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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