Ronnie Romero – Raised on Heavy Radio (Frontiers Music)Friday, 27th January 2023
Best known to many in the hard rock/metal community for his work with bands/projects like Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Lords of Black, The Ferrymen, Sunstorm, and Michael Schenker Group, vocalist Ronnie Romero issues a companion album to his Raised on Radio record for Raised on Heavy Radio. This time delving into probably more of his natural metal register and influences from the 70’s/80’s/90’s, listeners may not be surprised by the mix of artists chosen (Judas Priest, Accept, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Rainbow among others) but should be pleased by some of the ‘deeper cut’ philosophy employed.
Opening with “The Battle Rages On”, the title track from Deep Purple’s 1993 effort, probably is the first surprise of many – certainly a natural though for Ronnie’s soothing, multi-octave prowess that is epic, bluesy, and classy all the way. Most ardent Judas Priest fans can be split on “Turbo Lover”, but there’s no deny the futuristic nature that helped expand the sound of metal that still infiltrates the modern take with newer bands. The record then ping-pongs between natural choices like “Hallowed Be Thy Name” or “Fast as a Shark” with a few more twists – “The Shining” a Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath cut shining light on that severely neglected era of the group in terms of high quality stuff, while “Kind Hearted Light” reaches into the early Masterplan catalog off their self-titled 2003 record to prove Ronnie can spot strong songwriting from any time period. Guests include Gus G, Chris Caffery, Roland Grapow among others – embracing a community of musicians who want to position this fine voice in the most direct light possible.
Producer Alessandro Del Vecchio pulls all the working parts together in a cohesive fashion – and in keeping with the family ethics, Ronnie’s wife adorns the front cover. Favorites for Raised on Heavy Radio change by the day – you can never go wrong with “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, or when needing that energetic early thrash charge “The Four Horsemen”. Tributes like this expose listeners hopefully to not just strong, timeless material but the talent of the musicians within – in turn bringing new listeners to their original works.