SUNSTORM Sunstorm (2006) Locomotive Records Produced by: Dennis Ward For the Genre: ***** (5/5) Compared to the Era: ***** (5/5) Summary: An epic release from the 2006 Melodic Rock Renaissance. Channeling the power of Heaven Tonight on “Odyssey” by Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Mr. Joe Lynn Turner opens up your speakers with the hot radio-friendly “Keep Tonight” – such a passionate track with all of the depth and power we’ve now come to expect from a Dennis Ward production—the Ron Nevison of the 21st Century. Sounding just as fresh as when he wrote these songs in the mid-1980s, Turner is the champion of the heart and soul of tracks like “Fame and Fortune,” with a hook so catchy, it should be criminal this song did not dominate rock radio throughout the world. While he also wrote “Love’s Gone Wrong,” the secret ingredient to this record is Jim Peterik (Pride of Lions, Lifeforce, Survivor, etc). You really hear his influence on songs like “Strength Over Time,” “Another You” (a song you could easily imagine Lisa McClowry singing during a Lifeforce set), especially due to its interesting chord combinations, and the way the chorus ends. While I’ve never been a big fan of covers on studio albums, if well executed, they can be incredible. Indeed, drummer Chris Schmidt and Jochen Weyer on keys nails every phrasing on “Night Moves” while carrying greater strength on the timbre of JLT’s masculine vocals. Then there is “Fist Full of Heat” which is an old-school, bad-ass rock and roll song with plenty of attitude. We can thank Dennis Ward for his extra contribution on the record at bass guitar for the growling tone and solid timing that really drives songs like that home. But I would be remiss in not discussing Uwe Reitenauer’s technically accomplished guitar work with great feeling. While there are plenty of enjoyable leads and solid rhythm parts, he added Jake E. Lee-style accents to take songs like “Danger of Love” and “Fist Full of Heat” beyond the minimum expectations. It’s hard to pick a favorite off this album because there are some definite ties for each position. Fame and Fortune is why I bought the record, but it ties with Keep Tonight. Then, I love Danger of Love, especially for its gorgeous acoustic introduction, but I think I like the arrangement and overall sound of Fist Full of Heat better. Sunstorm’s eponymous release just isn’t the source of album you can take one single at a time off of iTunes, or somewhere. You really need the whole thing. It’s worth it too. Outside of the one misprint I found, the packaging is pure eye-candy and outside of the kick bass drum sounding a little clicky from time to time, the uncompressed digital audio mastered by Jeurgen Lusky simply shines. Sunstorm is, without a doubt, a “must own” for any fan of Melodic Rock, period. This top-shelf product represents the genre well, blowing the competition out of the water without breaking a sweat, and making albums like “Daughtry” sound like garbage in comparison.