Apparently hell bent on single handedly bringing back the Deep Purple brand of “Hammond Organ Heavy Metal,” Storm at Sunrise has thrust upon the music community their latest release, the pretentiously titled Garden of Forgotten Ideals. Let me first say that this band has two things I never thought I’d see in a rock band:
A rock guitarist named “Ernie” (no, the bassist’s name isn’t “Bert”...)
Once I got past those two anomalies, I settled in to give the CD a spin. After a few listens I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re into long Hammond/guitar jams, then you’ll probably like Garden.... If you enjoy vocals that sound like the singer is in the middle of eating breakfast and has just graduated from the “Linda McCartney School for Vocal Training and On-Key Singing,” then you’ll like Garden.... If you like Spinal Tap-ish lyrics and overly long songs with cursing in them, you’ll like Garden.... In other words, if your idea of the perfect musical journey is a concept album about big breasts and death by Deep Purple with a bar band vocalist taking over singing duties, then this release is your dream come true. (Actually, I think I’d pay for that!)
In all seriousness, the guys in Storm at Sunrise have some pretty decent musical chops. Guitarist Ernie “Rubber Duckie” Myers and keyboardist/drummer/physicist Dave Gryder lay out some pretty tasty solos, and interact with one another well. Bassist John Chesterfield also does a nice job in keeping up with the others while they noodle on their instruments. The problem with Garden... is two-fold. First off, all the songs sound pretty much the same – consisting of a heavy metal riff, some John Lord-esque Hammond, screaming vocals, topped off by a long instrumental jam. Rinse, repeat. It gets a bit tedious after the first couple of songs; it’s not necessarily due to any musical shortcomings of the players – I just think pigeonholing one’s self into the “biker rock” category is inherently limiting.
One of the problems with this release is Dave Gryder’s vocals. His off-key, muddled voice is very difficult to listen to and is only acceptable because of the type of music the band is playing. You don’t really need an operatically trained singer to perform on songs titled “I Just Wanna Celebrate” and “Heavy Rock Revival,” but it would still be nice if the notes coming out of Gryder’s mouth matched the notes the instruments are playing. This then brings us to the most notable aspect of Garden... - the lyrics. Allow me to quote from a track called “Top Heavy” which starts off with the lyric “Mounds of flesh, warm, soft and real/They really turn me on, dig that sex appeal”. Or perhaps you’d prefer the following selection from “Pussy Cat” – “Your purr box needs a pat/Come on woman, let me feed your pussy cat”. If it’s deeper and more meaningful lyrics you’re looking for, then try this excerpt from “Hellspawn” on for size – “So good I will feel when you’re dead/Endless torment your peace had fled”. Once again, the musical genre saves the band as it’s not necessary to have a degree in Mythology and Literature to write lyrics for Steppenwolf-style music. So the lyrics wind up being simply amusing rather than embarrassing.
So the bottom line is this - although their musical talent is apparent and Storm at Sunrise does indeed have the ability to “kick out the jams” when they want, I feel they’ll need to broaden their musical horizons a bit before they achieve success. While Garden of Forgotten Ideals is a serviceable attempt at leather-jacket, ripped blue jeans, workin’ man rock and roll, it’s not going to hold anyone’s attention for very long.
Track Listing: [Untitled](1:01), Jaded (7:29), Ageless (6:04), Moonrock (5:53), Heavy Rock Revival (6:05), No Good For No One (6:42), Hellspawn (4:43), Top Heavy (3:51), Morning Sun (7:30), Pussy Cat (5:07), I Just Want to Celebrate (4:54), From Cradle to Grave (8:33)
Personnel: Dave Gryder: Drums, Keyboards, Lead Vocal; Ernie Myers: Guitars; John Chesterfield: Bass