Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Album Review: Sunstorm - Edge Of Tomorrow
Joe Lynn Turner is someone who's legacy in rock and roll, if you want to say he has one, is completely predicated on one man; Ritchie Blackmore. If Turner had not been chosen to front Rainbow before it's long-overdue death, I scarcely think we would have ever heard his name. That exposure has allowed him to maintain a career, without ever releasing anything outside of Rainbow that has had any lasting impact. He is one of those people who is talented, but not in a way that captivates an audience. And coupled with his public spat about a Rainbow reunion, where he seemed to negotiate himself right out of the job in front of our eyes, makes it a bit hard to understand why I should care about a new record featuring him.
But I am fair, so I'm more than willing to give his Sunstorm project's new album a chance to impress me. This is billed as being a return to heavier fare for Turner, which is a good move, because his voice is not shaded with the tenderness I would associate with AOR. With his range, and his particular slight strain, he's fully geared to fronting a rock band.
Here is where I have to be honest; despite not being much of a fan of Turner, and despite the pre-release singles failing to capture my attention, "Edge Of Tomorrow" is a far better album that I was expecting. The initial songs coming out of the gate are exactly what they're sold as, moderately heavy melodic rock that have subtle but catchy choruses that do the most with Turner's voice. In particular, I love the deep, layered background vocals on "Nothing Left To Say", which are not only a different take on the usual sound, but give the hook extra 'oomph'. It's the kind of song that satisfies the primal hunger for simple, catchy rock music.
The success of the album lies mostly in Turner's decision not to take up the mantle of songwriting himself. Using Frontiers' in-house songwriters, and a few outsiders, Turner has been given the kind of material I doubt he would have come up with on his own. I don't mean that to sound insulting, but not every singer is a good writer. There's a strain of thought in rock and metal circles that people who don't write their songs aren't deserving the same respect, and that's just wrong. Being able to spot the right songs for you is a talent in its own right. Turner does that here.
These songs hit all the right marks, balancing some heavier guitars with melodic solos and strong hooks for Turner. The title track, and the ballad "Angel Eyes", both excel. There's a slight lull here and there, mostly where the album tries to get a bit heavier, but by and large "Edge Of Tomorrow" is an enjoyable set of songs. Joe Lynn Turner's time in the spotlight has since passed, but this album shows that he still has something to offer, if he understands his role. This was a pleasant surprise.