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Sunstorm - Afterlife Award winner

by Mike McMahan at 06 June 2021, 10:29 PM

It would be extremely difficult for me to effectively review SUNSTORM’S latest release, “Afterlife”, without talking about the controversy surrounding its release, and the replacement of original lead singer Joe Lynn Turner with journeyman vocalist extraordinaire Ronnie Romero. It is an almost unenviable task, from my point of view, being a fan of both vocalists’ bodies of work and a huge fan of the first five SUNSTORM releases. Turner and Romero, despite the obvious similarities that parallel their careers (with both vocalists being hired by Ritchie Blackmore for his various RAINBOW lineups), are distinctly different singers. Turner has always had a more classic AOR tone, smooth as silk, and Romero is a bit edgier with his presentation, gruffer in his tone, and probably a little heavier in his overall sound. Both are fantastic singers, and both are very underrated.

The true controversy comes to play with the name SUNSTORM, and its use on the “Afterlife” project; with the question I have heard posed as to whether you can justify using the name without one original band member left from the original 2006 release… JLT has left an impressive body of work with the band from that original release to 2018’s “The Road To Hell”, and those records will be remembered over time very fondly. Frontiers’ President Serafino Peragino was originally responsible for the formation of the project, centered around Turner’s return to the Melodic Rock format, and if there is name ownership to be had, I’m sure it falls to him and Frontiers Music. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. “Afterlife” stands pretty tall in its own right, and Ronnie Romero stands as tall as he ever has. So, with all that shit behind us, on to what has proven to be a great record, controversy or no.

From the heavy hitting title track forward, I found a lot to like about this album. The first single release, “Swan Song”, is an exceptional piece of music, very well written and full of fire on all levels. Del Vecchio has, obviously, a lot of input here, and his organ work on the track is exceptional. Romero’s voice is, as always, top shelf. Simone Mularoni is a fantastic guitarist, and he makes his presence felt on this cut, as well as on the remainder of the album. All these tracks have an edgier feel to them, partly due to Romero’s aggressive vocal style, I am sure.

“Stronger” may be my favorite cut on this record. It has Del Vecchio written all over it, sounding almost as if it could have been a leftover from the EDGE OF FOREVER “Native Soul” project. Again, Romero is more than capable of delivering the goods.

If you are a diehard fan of Joe Lynn Turner (as I am), and you TRY to pick this release apart, that is 100% on you. As for me, I will stand on the side of solid Melodic Hard Rock, regardless of who is in the driver’s seat.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Afterlife
2. One Step Closer
3. Swan Song
4. Born Again
5. Stronger
6. I Found A Way
7. Last Forever
8. Far From Over
9. Here For You Tonight
10. Darkest Night
11. A Story You Can Tell
Ronnie Romero – Vocals
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Backing Vocals
Simone Mularoni – Guitars
Nick Mazzuconi – Bass
Michele Senna – Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Music srl


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