It takes a big pair of balls to do what Joe Lynn Turner did, and I am not referring to the revelation of his shaved head, as a consequence of the disease he is suffering from a young age, alopecia totalis.
I am referring to this album where he is trying something different. He cuts the safety net, ignores the little voice in his head that cries: “are you sure about this? Why don’t you make another hard rock record?” and follows his gut that leads him to the heaviest album of his career so far guided by maestro Peter Tägtgren. Joe has been in a heavy metal environment before with Yngwie Malmsteen of course, but this is very much different, the style is different, the sound is much heavier, modern, full of electronic elements and symphonic parts.
“An artist has to change or he dies”, Joe told Rockpages.gr almost a year ago and that’s what he is trying to do here. Is this choice of his justified? No! The album is not bad, but it ain’t good either. His voice, which remains in top form by the way and capable to pierce through all the tons of heavy metal that are laid over it, doesn’t fit to this sound. No matter how unbiased you are trying to approach “The Belly Of The Beast” I don’t think you will find that the combination of the music with that voice match.
However, there is a couple of moments that everything seem to fall into place and “click”, like for example “Don’t Fear The Dark”, but this is only an exception to the rule. If he’d released just a couple of songs with this style, or he was a special guest in a Pain, or Hypocrisy album, then we’d have an entirely different conversation. But, this is a Joe Lynn Turner solo album, which is going to sit next to all the amazing work he had graced us in the past, solo stuff, Sunstorm albums etc.
Finally, the little voice was right, but we’d be doomed if fear, hesitation and insecurity hold us back every time and won’t let us dear and try something new. We should respect an artist with a huge career who is not scared to experiment without the fear of failing. That’s the attitude that leads to greatness, which is something that Joe’s legacy is full of.