The news came as a real body blow; Joe Lynn Turner was to leave Sunstorm after producing five absolutely wonderful albums of intense, hard and heavy melodic rock. What began life as a project had become a really vital and fan pleasing band with Turner on top form, rolling back the years and backed by some of the best musicians on the Frontiers label, so what could go wrong? Well, it seems that Mr. Tuner was looking for something a little heavier and left for pastures new which meant a big decision had to be made; either close the band or replace the irreplaceable. Frontiers chose the latter and this could have been disastrous but to unveil a man who is undoubtedly everyone’s favourite hard rock vocalist is nothing short of a masterstroke.
Step forward Ronnie Romero, the Chilean singer whose career path has been truly stratospheric and he truly has the magic touch and equally magical voice to match. I imagine that Romero must wake every morning and pinch himself to make sure he is not still dreaming as his story is truly of legendary proportions and if you wrote it then it would be dismissed as impossible nonsense. The gig with Lords Of Black was big time indeed but to be spotted and recruited by none other than Ritchie Blackmore and chosen to front the newly reformed Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow was surely a once in a life time experience and one that ensured life would never be the same for the ever likeable Ronnie Romero. Since them he has literally gone from strength to strength so it is goodbye Joe Lynn Turner and a huge and most welcome hello to Romero.
There has been some truly amazing musicians involved in Sunstorm over the years and most of the team from the last album, Road To Hell, from 2018 are still involved so there is a definite feeling of continuity and the baton has been passed perfectly. The returning musicians are Simone Mularoni (DGM) on guitar and Nik Mazzucconi (Labyrinth) on bass with the genius that is Alessandro Del Vecchio supplying keyboards and backing vocals as well as being the main songwriter and producer too. You have to check out the emotional Swan Song which has been written by Del Vecchio and Mularoni which shows exactly what Romero brings to the new version of the band and how integral the guitar of Mularoni is to the band and it is understandable why this has been chosen as the album’s lead single. The new man on drums is the incredible and hard working Michele Sanna and he has settled in amazingly well and will prove to be a valuable asset to the band.
Afterlife is definitely a Sunstorm album being a very heavy yet eminently melodic rock album with great songs, superb guitar and a truly outstanding vocalist on the mike and when melodic rock is this good then it simply does not get any better. The sound remains unmistakably Sunstorm but with Romero at the helm then there cannot help but be a taste of Rainbow, Sons Of Apollo and The Ferrymen etc creeping into the mix as his voice is just so distinctive but it is exactly what we would expect as he cements his place in position for, hopefully, a few good years yet. The songwriters have excelled themselves with a thrilling combination of huge and epic tracks with all of the expected melody and hooks to keep you fully enthralled and I say this every time I hear a new Mularoni album but he truly does get better with every release, just listen to his work here and it will blow your mind.
Joe Lynn Turner will return, have no doubt about that, and his new project will be exceptional but he has left Sunstorm in an incredibly safe pair of hands and this is no mere biding time project but a revamp of a great band and in Afterlife they have produced a truly must own album. Fantastic melodic metal, a band truly on fire and in Ronnie Romero they have one of the classiest metal vocalists around.
Afterlife track list
- Afterlife (4:00)
- One Step Closer (3:54)
- Swan Song (5:14)
- Born Again (4:20)
- Stronger (4:55)
- I Found A Way (4:06)
- Lost Forever (3:43)
- Far From Over (4:16)
- Here For You Tonight (4:01)
- Darkest Night (4:23)
- A Story That You Can Tell (3:59)