SUNSTORM – Afterlife
What a pleasant surprise this one is. While its two predecessors were above average records and contained some good material, the latest Sunstorm output featuring Rainbow vocalist Ronnie Romero on vocals is a thoroughly enjoyable and solid mixture of hard rock and melodic heavy metal, and I was immediately struck by just how huge and memorable the choruses are and how hook-laden the overall affair is the first time I spun the disc. Luckily, there is more to it than that, and the more one listens to this 11-track offering, the more textures, layers, and subtle details reveal themselves along the way.
With a crisp, powerful production and plenty of energy, Sunstorm have in fact released their most accomplished and musically rewarding album to date. Ironically, Romero replaced former vocalist Joe Lynn Turner in the project but there are aspects of "Afterlife" that are slightly reminiscent of Rainbow’s "Difficult to Cure" and "Straight Between the Eyes" – both of which were sung by the aforementioned Turner. However, this particular opus sounds fresh and relatively modern thanks to its thick heavy production, and I think we can all agree that superbly written hard rock with an abundance of glorious melodies and sharp riffs never goes out of style and is as timeless as Keith Richards apparently is. Uplifting pieces such as "Darkest Night" and "Stronger" as well as the epic title track and the gripping "Swan Song" are the highlights of the disc, but the bluesy, Whitesnake-esque "I Found a Way" is a memorable track too. I love how the keyboards are interwoven with the guitars and vocal melodies while simultaneously adding depth and texture to the material.
The only low points are the mediocre and cliched "Lost Forever" and "Here for You Tonight" – the rest is fucking great!