MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP – Immortal (2021)
Celebrating 40th anniversary as a solo artist and on his 50th birthday as a musician, legendary guitarist MICHAEL SCHENKER is returning with the indeed immortal MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP. So the album is properly titled “Immortal“, recorded by what is probably the strongest line-up of his long career.
When someone like Michael Schenker calls, they all come. You can hear the sensational voice of young hard rock sensation Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, Sunstorm), Joe Lynn Turner, Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), and Schenker’s loyal accomplice Michael Voss, who produced the record alongside Michael Schenker avoiding common places and delivering a punchy, biting sound.
If anyone were to suggest that Michael should plan a quiet retirement rather than heading back into the studio then the opening track ‘Drilled To Kill’ is the perfect retort. This is a hard and heavy track underpinned with machine gun like drumming and a soaring vocal provided in this instance by Ralph Scheepers from Primal Fear. It certainly grabs your attention with a relentless barrage of furious riffs firing from Schenker’s fretboard and a wave of Hammond organ courtesy of talented Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country Communion).
Next to Michael Schenker caressing his iconic black and white Dean Flying V, we hear bass player Barry Sparks (Dokken), keyboard player Steve Mann (Lionheart) as well as the three drummers Bodo Schopf (Hartmann, McAuley Schenker Group), Simon Phillips (ex-Toto) and Brian Tichy (ex-Whitesnake) pumping gallons of fresh blood through the tracks.
Joe Lynn Turner then steps up to the mic for ‘Don’t Die On Me Now’ which has a chugging riff and a big, melodic chorus. Turner then hands the mic to Ronnie Romero for ‘Knight Of The Dead’ which again charges along at a furious pace. This is classic rock at it’s very best and well worth the multiple rounds of quarantine Schenker had to enduring as he traveled to and from Germany for the recording sessions.
Vocal duties are swapped once more as album producer, Michael Voss of Mad Max, steps from behind the mixing desk to add his voice to the big ballad of the album ‘After The Rain’. A majestic piece that can rightly rub shoulders with the very best epics in classic rock, a real album highlight.
The riff to ‘Devil’s Daughter’ is the closest Schenker will get to writing a country song but the double bass drum attack makes sure that this is an out and out rocker. ‘Sail The Darkness’ is next up with Romero back at the mic giving this a very ‘Ronne James Dio period Rainbow’ like sound.
Things then take a lighter, almost AOR, turn on ‘The Queen Of Thorns and Roses’ which adds another element to the album and provides a breather before you plunge back into the full on rock of ‘Come On Over’ with Michael producing one of the best solos on the album in the mid-section.
That only leaves two songs to round off the album and what a fantastic pairing they are. ‘Sangria Morte’ is first up and is a real Schenker classic with excellent six string dexterity throughout.
The final song though is one very special to Michael as it was the first song he wrote at the tender age of 15. ‘In Search Of The Peace Of Mind’ was first released on the Scorpions ‘Lonesome Crow’ album and it is perfectly reworked here to great effect. The song twists and turns gently leading to a big final flourish complete with more stunning fretwork from the maestro.
I was slightly disappointed by the last two Schenker Fest album releases as they sounded like they were constrained and made to fit the musicians in certain parts.
However, here Michael has been freed to cut loose and explore all avenues and this is his best release since the ‘Temple Of Rock’ albums.
He says in the accompanying blurb that on this album he has ‘played from the heart, as always’ and I am glad to report it is beating stronger than ever.
“Immortal” may be pushing it but there is plenty of life left in Mr Schenker yet!.
01. Drilled To Kill (feat Ralf Scheepers)
02. Don’t Die On Me Now (feat Joe Lynn Turner)
03. Knight Of The Dead (feat Ronnie Romero)
04. After The Rain (feat Michael Voss)
05. Devil’s Daughter (feat Ralf Scheepers)
06. Sail The Darkness (Feat Ronnie Romero)
07. The Queen Of Thorns And Roses (feat Michael Voss)
08. Come On Over (feat Ronnie Romero)
09. Sangria Morte (feat Joe Lynn Turner)
10. In Search Of Peace Of Mind
(feat Ronnie Romero, Gary Barden, Doogie White, Robin McAuley)
Michael Schenker – guitars
Ronnie Romero – vocals
Joe Lynn Turner – vocals
Ralf Scheepers – vocals
Michael Voss – vocals, bass
Barry Sparks – bass
Steve Mann – guitar, keyboards
Derek Sherinian – keyboards
Bodo Schopf – drums
Simon Phillips – drums
Brian Tichy – drums
Gary Barden, Robin McAuley, Doogie White – vocals