What is there left to do for a seventy one-year old heavy rock legend, whose career spans over four decades singing for bands such as Deep Purple, Rainbow and Yngvie Malmsteen? Release one of the most impressive albums of his career, of course. Obviously I’m talking about Joe Lynn Turner, who struck up a seemingly unlikely partnership with the Swedish melodic metal mastermind Peter Tägtgren. The result of this match made in heavy metal heaven is “Belly of the Beast”, announced back in August and released this weekend.
“Belly of the Beast“, the album’s titular opening track as well as its first promotional single, dropped my jaws on the floor and raised the expectations sky-high at first listening, and I’m more than happy to say the rest of the album clear’s the bar set for it with flying colors. Already the opening track lays down the law with fiery riffing, powerful vocals and thought-provoking lyricism, and at no point does the album lose its grip during the fifty-minute ride. This is not to say the album would be relentless pummeling throughout, as there are power ballads such as “Tortured Soul” and “Dark Night of the Soul” to break the mould, and overall the tunes are moderately paced. All the album tracks clock in around four or five minutes, giving them enough room to grow without growing boring at any point.
“Belly of the Beast” draws to a close with two contemplative tracks “Living the Dream” and “Requiem“, leaving the listener with a genuine bittersweet feeling. This sense arises both from the lyrical content as well as the fact that the musical journey is over. The collaboration between Joe Lynn Turner and Peter Tägtgren was sparked in 2017 in an accidental meeting, and what a lucky break that turned out to be. It is simply amazing to think that two prestigious musicians from such different backgrounds could come together and produce such seamless excellency as “Belly of the Beast”. Besides serving as the record’s producer, Peter Tägtgren is credited as co-songwriter on six songs, and his contributions on the album are as easily apparent as they are appreciated. “Belly of the Beast” is one of the most positive musical surprises of the year, and an obvious recommendation for anyone who might enjoy gritty, groovy, melodic and well-articulated heavy metal.