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Ronny Munroe’s debut solo CD following the folding up of Metal Church, ‘The fire within’, was one that impressed in fits and starts but just couldn’t find the level of consistency needed to make a proper impact. It offered a handful of genuine power metal firecrackers, but much of the material hovered just above or beneath the mediocrity equator and a couple more plunged well below it, leaving a well-intentioned but wholly unremarkable CD.
But here’s the good news – ‘Lords of the edge’ is a considerable improvement. There may not be any more obvious stand out attention-grabbers, but this time around the material that is less than stellar is built of far sturdier stuff, making for a solid, thoroughly enjoyable CD.
With a totally different band behind him this time, the biggest reason for the improvement is probably the decision to pair up with Aussie guitar wizard Stu Marshall in both songwriting and production, and the Empires of Eden mastermind’s dextrous playing and overall experience are a big contributing factor to the success of ‘Lords of the edge’.
The star of the show is the man with the mic, of course, and Mr. Munroe has dug out another potent mix of operatic, yet still nicely rough-edged vocals to front the ready-steady U.S.-style power metal that Marshall has cooked up. Still, his performance on ‘The fire within’ was every bit as good, with the key difference this time being that he has the tunes to back it up.
Marshall’s music (along with a couple of key contributions from Rick Van Zandt and Chriss Caffery, both of whom adding a bit of shredding excellence to the mix as well) remains chiefly in the old-school mould, but the songs are generally more developed than they were on the debut, not suffering from the stuttering, repetitious drums patterns or starving on only a couple of riffs apiece. The guitar solos are resolutely excellent as well, with the rejuvenated Michael Wilton again getting in on the act along with the other luminaries already on board.
Amongst all the galloping riffs and squealing solos though, Munroe stills manages to hit those key emotional notes, both on the faster efforts such as the opening “Just breathe” and on the softer moments that crop up towards the end. Indeed, the closing pairing of the acoustic ballad “Still alive” and the lengthy, cathartic “Goodbye to the black” see the CD off in fine fashion, ending things on a different but altogether welcome note.
Though there isn’t really a great deal to be said about many of the songs in their own right, it shouldn’t be taken as a damning indictment, as the greatest strength of ‘Lords of the edge’ was the debut CD’s biggest weakness – the consistency of quality. The songs may all be cut from a similar cloth, but together they make for a rock-hard power metal CD that should more than please fans of Metal Church looking to the former frontman for a continuation of his old band’s legacy.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)