MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP - Universal (2022) full

The long awaited new album from German guitar hero MICHAEL SCHENKER, “Universal”, will be released on May 27 via Atomic Fire Records. Staying true to tradition, Schenker has once again featured an impressive list of musicians for the MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP on the forthcoming record.
Among them, main vocalist Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, Vanderberg), who will also be MSG‘s frontman on their upcoming tour.
Michael Kiske (Helloween) and Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), keyboard player Steve Mann (Lionheart), drummers Simon Phillips (Toto, The Who), Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Foreigner), Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow) and Bodo Schopf (Eloy), as well as legendary bassists Bob Daisley (Black Sabbath), Barry Sparks (Yngwie Malmsteen, Dokken) and Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian, Zakk Wylde), with Tony Carey guesting as well.

Working again with producer Michael Voss seems to be at last part of the magic here “Michael Voss is happy to wait until I have worked out an idea and takes the time to really get to know the song, simultaneously developing ideas for the vocals,” Schenker describes the fruitful collaboration which has one cog intermesh with the other.
“Then we work out the drums, bass and some keyboard parts together. He always has plenty of great ideas up his sleeve.”

If you’ve enjoyed Schenker’s recent output then you’ll love this. Opening with the brooding ‘Emergency’ and the more melodic build of ‘Under Attack’ there’s a defined retro sound that pitches you nicely into the mid-Eighties.
And after that two first numbers we find ourselves face to face with what some are even citing as one of Schenker’s most important tracks in recent years…

“The rock anthem ‘A King Has Gone’ and its intro ‘Calling Baal’ both have a special significance: The track, sung by Helloween frontman Michael Kiske, is a tribute to the immortal Ronnie James Dio, in particular to his performance on the 1976 hard rock classic Rainbow Rising.
For this reason, Schenker has brought together an original Rainbow rhythm section consisting of Bobby Rondinelli and Bob Daisley, additionally enlisting keyboardist Tony Carey, who also played on Rainbow Rising, for a terrific Moog synth intro – a direct reference to the iconic intro of the 1976 album opener ‘Tarot Woman’.
The impressive result ‘Calling Baal’/‘A King Has Gone’ is already considered to be one of the most important and successful songs in Schenker’s career to date, both musically and lyrically.”

Indeed it’s hard not to be impressed even just at the sentiment let alone the reassembling of the musicians who made such a wonderful album, but the song itself and its preceding intro have a wonderful passion and the sort of keyboard and guitar interplay that made albums like ‘Rising’ timeless. It’s a wonderful tribute.

‘The Universe’ has the hard act of following that and rather go full pelt we instead land in a soft ballad that sees Gary Barden and Ronnie Romero share a duet. ‘Long Long Road’ has an initial feel of Thunderstruck with the smooth vocal driving it forward majestically.
And if your love the vocals of Ralph Scheepers then you’re in for a real treat with ‘Wrecking Ball’ a real highlight here and the most driven offering so far – this one will sizzle live!

The final four might even edge it – first ‘Yesterday is Dead’ comes as a nice gritty headbanger before ‘London Calling (No not the Clash song – imagine that!) pays homage to the 80’s UK rock bands that put Hard Rock in the mainstream, it’s a great song and very reminiscent of Scorpions.
‘Sad is the Song’ that follows is more statuesque and definitely gives off a Rainbow vibe especially in the verses which are vaguely Eastern and the guitar work. The final word goes to the red hot fretwork of ‘Au Revoir’ the paciest fretwork offering here and another of the best. As they say, it’s a nice way to say see you later…

The album features two bonus tracks: ‘Turn Off the World’ which with that opening guitar is actually one of my favourites on the album a stomping mid-tempo rocker that comes with a message and is hard to see how it only made it as a bonus cut. The second bonus ‘Fighter’ is a mid-tempo rocker that would be worth inclusion just for the solo!
There’s no slowing Michael down these days and here’s yet another treat for fans.


1 Emergency (feat. Barry Sparks & Simon Phillips)
2 Under Attack
3 Calling Baal (feat. Tony Carey)
4 A King Has Gone (feat. M. Kiske, B. Rondinelli, B. Daisley & Tony Carey)
5 The Universe (feat. Gary Barden & Barry Sparks)
6 Long Long Road (feat. Michael Voss)
7 Wrecking Ball (feat. Ralf Scheepers)
8 Yesterday Is Dead (feat. Brian Tichy & Barry Sparks)
9 London Calling (feat. Michael Voss)
10 Sad Is The Song (feat. Barry Sparks & Simon Phillips)
11 Au Revoir (feat. Barry Sparks & Simon Phillips)
12 Turn Off The World (feat. Brian Tichy)
13 Fighter (feat. Brian Tichy & Barry Sparks)


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1 Response

  1. Jayman ERRR says:

    Thanks For this one

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