Sunstorm – The Road To Hell (Album Review)

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Joe Lynn Turner has returned with yet another installment of the Sunstorm project. What began back in 2006 as a bit of a vault opening and rediscovery of some unreleased AOR songs that Joe Lynn Turner had sat on has evolved into a successful, ongoing series.

The Road to Hell features the surprisingly still-solid voice of Turner paired with crunchy guitars and instantly accessible rock songs that walk the line of being easy to access while still having some balls. This release fits comfortably in the Frontiers Records wheelhouse. A few of the songs, such as “Blind the Sky” and “State of the Heart” sound like they were originally written for a Jorn Lande project, which is a decent reference point for categorizing the vibe of this album.

There’s much to like about this record if that’s your thing. Turner has always had a very smooth, effortless sounding voice, and despite the number of years he’s been singing solo, as well as for the likes of Rainbow, Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen, he’s managed to maintain the essence of his younger man’s voice. Some of his contemporaries have released music lately that frankly is a bit depressing because it highlights the difference between the now and then. Not so with Joe.

The songs themselves have hooks and catchy choruses that, while might affect the long term shelf life of the recording, make it easy to get your head around and instantly enjoy. The band’s performance is solid, with some splashes of really tasteful playing in the predictably positioned guitar solos provided by Simone Mularoni. None of the instrumentation, however, manages to distract the listener from the core understanding that this a Joe Lynn Turner, not a band project. You have to like his voice to like the record.

“The Road to Hell” Album Artwork

There is a consistency to the individual tracks that make the record cohesive, albeit perhaps also a tad one dimensional. “Everywhere” stands out as the ballad amongst the rockers, but it manages to avoid delving too far into cheesy or wimpy territory, in part because of the polished, soaring guitar solo. Sonically, the record sounds a bit compressed and would have benefitted from some additional sonic diversity and dynamics, but the production doesn’t get in the way of the listener’s enjoyment. Lyrically, while there’s not a lot of poetry to process, there’s a positive, energetic tone that slots in nicely with the music. If you liked tracks like “Death Alley Driver” by Rainbow with Turner at the helm, you’ll probably enjoy more than half of this album.

To be honest, I expected to like The Road to Hell less than I do, and I’m glad for that. There’s no real big surprises or left turns. It’s simply a good collection of accessible rock songs, well performed, that while maybe aren’t challenging, they are enjoyable. Top tracks  “The Road to Hell,” “On the Edge,” “Blind the Sky,” “Calling” and “State of the Heart.”

It’s good to hear a guy still rocking well 40 years after I first heard him performing “Stone Cold” on MTV as a teenager. Time takes its toll on us all, and sadly, Turner suffered a heart attack recently while performing in Russia. These songs should be heard live. If he were playing in my area, I’d certainly be in the audience, and I hope that’s a possibility. Our thoughts and prayers are with him for a speedy recovery.

Released By: Frontiers Records SLR
Release Date: June 8th, 2018
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock

Band Members:

  • Joe Lynn Turner / Lead vocals
  • Nik Mazzucconi / Bass guitar
  • Simone Mularoni / Lead Guitar
  • Alessandro Del Vecchio / Keyboards
  • Edo Sala / Drums

“The Road To Hell” Track-Listing:

  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

7.5 Very good

A solid, predictable collection of melodic rock songs that shine in the vocals and guitar solos department, while losing a tad of luster for lack of originality and production excellence. If you dig classic European hard-rock, this is a no-brainer addition to your collection.

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 6
  • Production 7
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