Too Many Lies, Too Many Masters

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Castaway on the Moon
02. Mountain of Light
03. I've Been Losing You
04. Too Many Lies, Too Many Masters
05. Girl, Don't Listen to the Radio
06. Crossroad
07. Not Just a Nightmare
08. A Distant Shore
09. Chase By Shadows
10. Vengeance

Devoted fans of melodic metal will have struggled to avoid RONNIE ROMERO over the last 15 years. The Chilean singer's output over that time has been varied, dynamic and relentless, with his voice a key component on albums by LORDS OF BLACK, SUNSTORM, THE FERRYMEN, CORELEONI, ELEGANT WEAPONS and numerous others. Oh, and he was RITCHIE BLACKMORE's choice for the revived RAINBOW. That's a pretty impressive resume by anyone's standards, but Romero was always destined to have a solo career, and "Too Many Lies, Too Many Masters" is its true starting point.

After hedging his bets somewhat, with two albums of rock and metal covers, the singer has finally taken the plunge and made a record that represents him in his most natural habitat. Pleasingly, these songs are rooted in traditional, melodic heavy metal, with occasional theatrical flourishes and a neat line in penetrating, AOR hooks. As one might expect, Romero was born for this stuff and sings the absolute living crap out of each and every one of them.

The beating heart of this record is Romero's songwriting partnership with guitarist Jose Rubio and drummer Andy C."Too Many Lies, Too Many Masters" has been crafted to give the singer the best possible launchpad for that extraordinary voice, but with an absolute commitment to big choruses, blazing solos and crisp succinctness. As a result, from the opening "Castaway On The Moon" onwards, the formula is near perfect, both for Romero and the necessary establishing of his solo career's primary direction. Never less than floridly melodic, these are simply big, memorable songs. "Castaway…" comes out with all guns blazing, brandishing that melodic creed like a weapon of war. Romero always sounds great, but here he sounds liberated and rejuvenated. "Mountain of Light" is the kind of song Ronnie James Dio would have nailed with aplomb — mid-paced, melodramatic and definitively metal — and the Chilean's ability to sing at that same, preposterous level, landing every chorus with effortless skill, says it all. The more measured and glossier stomp of "I've Been Losing You" sees Romero switch to the bluesy, soulful rasp he employed to such devastating effect onstage with Blackmore a few years ago. This time, he has a razor-sharp radio-rock chorus to sink his teeth into, JOURNEY-like keyboard stabs included. In contrast, the title track is an out-and-out classic metal rager, with strong echoes of both DIO and JUDAS PRIEST and a deliciously pompous chorus.

As enjoyable as Romero's two covers records ("Raised On Radio" and "Raised On Heavy Radio") were, they lacked the authority that this, the real debut solo album, has in abundance. Whether it's the thuggish, post-METALLICA chugging of "Girl, Don't Listen to the Radio", the earthy blues metal of "Crossroad" or the cantering power metal pop of "Not Just a Nightmare", everything sounds heavy, punchy and passionate. "A Distant Shore" offers a slight deviation from the shiny hard rock norm, with downbeat, alt-rock undercurrents and a surprisingly raw and vulnerable vocal from the Chilean; while "Chased By Shadows" and "Vengeance" bring the curtain down, with bonus unapologetic DIO vibes on the former and nuts-to-the-wall speed metal thrills on the latter. Romero sounds phenomenal on both.

Watching his career to date has been fascinating, but it's time to get down to serious business. "Too Many Lies, Too Many Masters" has the songs, the smarts and, critically, the voice of a heavy metal angel.

Author: Dom Lawson
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