Joe Lynn Turner – Belly of the Beast Review

If someone were to ask me for my favorite classic-era vocalist that doesn’t get enough credit, for sure I would say Joe Lynn Turner. I absolutely love his voice, and the three Rainbow albums he sang on are, to me at least, underrated hard rock gems. So it is with great shame I admit that I haven’t listened to a single minute of his post-Rainbow work. Being apparently out of the loop, when I heard Turner was releasing his eleventh (!) solo album this month, I jumped the queue and grabbed it. Okay, turns out nobody else wanted it anyhow, but I made sure to eliminate that option. And here I sit with Belly of the Beast, an unlikely collaboration with Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain) that is far heavier than anything Turner has recorded to date (I assume).

There are no credits to be found for Belly of the Beast, so we are left assuming Tägtgren handled all the music in addition to production. And one can certainly hear influence from Pain and Hypocrisy amongst other acts, from the over-processed, industrial drums to the thick chugging guitars and the synthetic orchestral flairs. The title track roars out of the gates with a sound and style that could fit in with Painkiller-era Judas Priest. Musically, it’s a rager. “Black Sun,” the second track, is the only moment that harkens back to Joe Lynn Turner’s Rainbow days, with an organ intro and a dialed-back vocal that highlights the smoky soul I love about the man. “Requiem” is also a great closer, featuring slightly more subdued performances and Turner’s most emotional delivery on the album.

Being Turner’s heaviest album to date (probably) doesn’t necessarily make it a great album. Too often the tracks are generic cookie-cutter metal with Tägtgren’s fingerprints far too obvious. Turner’s selling point is his feel and soul, two facets of his voice that are more often than not absent here. Beyond the three songs mentioned above, I struggle to recall many moments. The bulk of Belly of the Beast comes off as a record company-created collaboration. “Rise Up,” “Tears of Blood,” and “Fallen World” are all basically the same song, just with varying (but barely) lyrics. Turner has foregone his strengths and gone full metal here, and to be fair he does a very admirable job. He’s still a great singer; it’s just that on this album he now sounds like a million other singers.

As well, Mr. Turner is not a happy camper, and it seems like a lot of his rage stems from the pandemic. Oh, another album inspired by COVID? Shocking!1 But this doesn’t come off as an occasional rail against the issues we all faced. Listen to lyrics like “Take the vaccination, kill the population” and “Die on your feet or live on your knees, we’ve been betrayed” and it’s easy to see that this dude has gone down a few rabbit holes too many, and wants us all to know about it. It’s all a bit cringy, and combined with less controversial lyrics about corporate greed, overpopulation, and literally every other issue in the world today, it adds up to a stress-inducing, bitter listen.

Is this “Disappointing” rating personal? Sure, but I am actually a person. Expecting and hoping for some classy AOR but instead getting some chugging generic metal leads to disappointment. Cap it all off with some over-the-top rants, and you’re left with a tepid outing that could have – no, should have – been so much more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got several olde Rainbow albums I need to go snuggle up with. It’s also far past time to dive into Joe Lynn Turner’s solo discography and hear what I might have been missing out on.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Mascot Label Group
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 28th, 2022

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  1. I’m so tired of these. Hopefully next year bands can start writing songs about sex and dragons and stuff again.
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