Although not exactly a household name, Ronny Munroe is the third generation of vocalists for quasi-legendary act Metal Church. The band itself may be past it’s creative peak and none of the Munroe-era albums are what I’d consider essential listening, but he’s always been a solid and dependable vocalist blessed with above average pipes seemingly made for metal. Electric Wake is his third solo outing, and though the prior platters sported a few interesting tunes, neither fully served Mr. Munroe and his quality vocals were often wasted on underwhelming and passé numbers. Like its predecessors, Electric Wake is straight up, no nonsense, meat and taters American heavy metal fairly close to his Metal Church endeavors, but with a bit more focus around his voice. The style suits his delivery and range well enough, but once again, the songs themselves are not very impressive or memorable. Despite a wealth of guest appearances, much of the material feels like outtakes from his main act and only a few songs manage to resonate. The man just can’t seem to catch a break.
What makes Electric Wake a frustrating listen is that Ronny sounds really cracking on most of the songs. He’s commanding and forceful on opener “Burning Time” and makes the song work, though it truly feels like microwaved Metal Church leftovers. “Ghosts” rips off the lead riff from Kreator‘s “Golden Age” almost note for note, but it’s a passable song that features some decent solo-work from George Lynch of Dokken fame (and I know you loved rockin with Dokken) and Ronny sells the simple chorus very effectively.
“Turn to Stone” is simple metal without pretense or artifice and it works well enough as such. “Sleepless Mountain” feels a bit more grand and epic and though it won’t amaze anyone, it’s certainly listenable. The standout of the litter is “The Others,” which is rather jaunty and sports a big cheese-bomb of a chorus, Maiden-esque riffery and some cringe-inducing vocals by Pamela Moore (aka Sister Mary from Operation:Mindcrime).
The rest of Electric Wake falls between generic and boring and songs like the title track, “Not You Not Me” and “Ritual Damage” are the very definition of filler. In fact, the album often feels like a collection of filler and bonus tracks that sat on a shelf for obvious reasons.
To his credit, Ronny does his best on every song and his performance is worthwhile, even when the songs are not. He walks the line between former Metal Church singers David Wayne and Mike Howe, channeling the high pitched lunacy of the former and the tough raspy bellows of the latter while mixing in a bit of Jorn‘s hard rock gloss. His delivery is about as metal as it gets and the guy is easy to root for.
While Ronny sounds fine, much of the backing music is painfully nondescript and cardboard. There’s an interesting solo here and a decent riff there, but this sounds more like a session band than anything I’ve heard in a long time. There isn’t much feeling to the playing and it’s all very workmanlike.
I respect the man, but I can’t recommend the album except to die-hard Metal Church groupies. There just isn’t enough meat on the bones to make a proper meal, and nobody likes feeling underfed. Better luck next time, Ronny.