Ronny Munroe, The Fire Within, 2009
Speaking of Vanderhoof, on this record he engineers and produces. And with guests like Michael Wilton of Queensryche fame en Randy Cooper of the Texas Hippie Coalition, you will have a clue as to what is on offer here.
Munroe is a singer who has a rough edge to his voice. Maybe one can compare him a little to the mighty Jon Oliva. He wrote all the songs with collaboration of some of the players, except for album closer Man On The Silver Mountain, which is obviously a Rainbow cover.
Pure guitars and galloping drums, this is a metal record if ever there was one. Still it is melodic enough, though it takes some time to get used to it. This because the voice is pretty dominant in the mix. The songs are not all instant but grow upon you with repeated play. To me this means all too obvious routines have been avoided. Yet a constant fire of double kick is at times a little tiring. Tracks like Rebuild The Ruins or Delirium or Across The Sea Of Souls really hit home for me because of more progressive arrangements (and a little keyboard).
Conclusion, not essential, but a nice one anyway.