Raised On Heavy Radio

rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Battle Rages On
02. Metal Daze
03. Turbo Lover (feat. Nozumo Wakai)
04. Hallowed Be Thy Name
05. Fast As A Shark
06. No More Tears (feat. Gus G)
07. The Shining (feat. Chris Caffery)
08. A Light In The Black
09. Kind Hearted Light (feat. Roland Grapow)
10. You Don't Remember, I'll Never Forget
11. The Four Horsemen

Having sung with Ritchie Blackmore 's RAINBOW to great acclaim and, more recently, taken on the frontman role with MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, Ronnie Romero could reasonably claim to have little to prove at this point. Fortunately, the Chilean has a voracious appetite for doing what he does best.

A sequel to last year's excellent "Raised On Radio", this second solo venture again comprises a selection of classic tunes, all sung by the man himself with the expected level of wild-eyed enthusiasm. Where the first volume focused on a varied selection of hard rock and AOR classics, "Raised On Heavy Radio" is Romero's full-beans metal showcase. Arguably in his most natural habitat while wailing for LORDS OF BLACK and SUNSTORM, he has a phenomenally powerful voice that lends itself to hard-edged but intensely melodic metal. As a result, while this could easily descend into a bloated exercise in carbon-copy karaoke, the sheer character in Romero's multi-octave bellow saves the day each and every time.

In truth, these are faithful and sometimes overly respectful versions of much loved songs, and so Romero really has to work to justify the whole enterprise. It is to his credit that "Raised On Heavy Radio" is much more convincing than it should be. Everything from a meaty stomp through DEEP PURPLE's "The Battle Rages On" to a concluding rampage through METALLICA's "The Four Horsemen" is served up with passion and power, and Romero's voice is such an undeniable force that he frequently breathes new life into the somewhat overly familiar.

Also, taking on some of these songs is undeniably ballsy. Nobody wins in a singing contest with Eric Adams, but Romero's take on MANOWAR's "Metal Daze" is more than impressive. Both "Turbo Lover" (JUDAS PRIEST) and "No More Tears" (OZZY) are tailor-made for his grand range and rasping snarl, and even IRON MAIDEN's most revered song, "Hallowed Be Thy Name", benefits from a zingy, box-fresh rebuild. RAINBOW's "A Light In The Black" is as imperious and epic as such a monumental piece of music demands, while covers of tunes from MASTERPLAN and YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN scratch a different kind of itch for Romero. He sounds as comfortable soaring across balls-out power metal as he does over the atmospheric trad doom of "The Shining": an exquisite cover of the opening track from BLACK SABBATH 's underappreciated 1987 masterwork "The Eternal Idol". Noble in intent, it also serves as a timely reminder that (a) Tony Martin is an absolute fucking legend, and (b) Ronnie Romero can match him note for note and scream for scream.

Yes, this is another covers album and therefore ultimately inessential, even within Romero's growing discography. But just listen to that voice, singing those songs, and the world momentarily seems like a pretty cool place to be. Sing on, Double-R!

Author: Dom Lawson
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