Sound: In 1995, Ritchie Blackmore had just left Deep Purple for good. He had tried to make himself more comfortable in that band by replacing his constant nemesis Ian Gillan with former Rainbow-singer Joe Lynn Turner, but ultimately he was forced to accept Gillan's return after just one album with Turner. So he decided to revive his brainchild Rainbow, with the relatively unknown but talented Doogie White on vocals. "Stranger In Us All" would feature a mix of the different styles Rainbow had tried over the years; both some epic hard rock and some commercial stuff reminiscent of the Turner-era.
The production, while nice and clean, is somewhat lacking of life and sounds quite "indoors", if that makes any sense. Ritchie's guitar sounds great, though; his tone is much less distorted and over-the-top than your usual rock/metal guitarist's, which is a welcome change if you ask me. // 7
Lyrics: The lyrics are just what you'd expect: Doogie White tries his best to emulate both Turner and Ronnie James Duo to fit with the changing character of the songs. Which means that half of them are decent attempts and fantasy, and the rest is your standard, pointless AOR crap.
As a vocalist, White certainly doesn't disappoint; however, neither is performance that impressive. There are some fine screams scattered around the album, and his high range in general gives him some credibility. But when he goes lower than that, he really doesn't stand out much from other singers of his kind. // 5
Overall Impression: Considering that this kind of music wasn't really what Ritchie, deep down in his heart, wanted to do anymore (as would be evidenced a couple of years later, when he formed Blackmore's Night together with his wife), this album is a pretty good effort. I generally skip the boring and predictable "Turner-style" songs, but if you're like me you can still find some classic stuff on here: "Wolf to the Moon", "Hunting Humans", and a new version of "Still I'm Sad" (resembling the live version, with vocals!) all give plenty of bang for the buck. And some songs are absolutely fabulous; "Ariel" brings back the oriental scales from "Gates of Babylon" (and check out Candice Night's spellbinding vocals near the ending! ), "Hall of the Mountain King" is a captivating interpretation of Grieg's classical piece, and "Black Masquerade" is baroque metal the way Malmsteen always wished he could do it.
If you are a metal fan, then you might find half of this album annoying and poppy and the rest too weakly produced to be satisfying. If you are a fan of Blackmore's work, however, then you certainly won't be disappointed by his very last rock album! // 7