Dude, I feel like calling your new album Immortal in 2021 is just tempting some sort of fate. Schenker, as evidenced by the 50th Anniversary banner on the album cover, ain’t exactly a youngster. Maybe something like “I’m Covid Free” or “I Can Stand Without Assistance” would have been a more appropriate title. And, yes, he still embracing that stupid fucking hat and sunglasses as his new trademark look. Is he just surrounded by Yes Men that are scared to tell him that he looks like a giant dork. I just don’t understand.
It’s going to be a little hard to not compare this album to Accept’s new one since these albums came out on the same day and I just wrote the Accept one yesterday. You’ve got two old school classic metal entities that are still kicking here in the year of 2021. MSG has always kind of been more of a Schenker solo endeavor than a true group, but it feels like he has gone even further in treating this as just his creation even more so than the group’s heyday in the 80s. This album has a rotating cast of singers and musicians on each song and feels kind of like Schenker is embracing the whole Michael Schenker Fest idea of bring back past vocalists. This latest release has classic era MSG frontmen Gary Barden and Robyn McAuley and enlists Primal Fear frontman Ralf Scheepers for a couple of burners. Hell, he even locates Joe Lynn Turner to sing on a song. Scoring Derek Sherinian to play some keyboard on the album was also a nice addition.
Overall, this one rocks pretty hard. Unlike the Accept album, which felt like an old group trying to stay grounded in their past youth, this feels like a Schenker who has embraced his age. There’s nothing on here that is in any way groundbreaking. But, with all this dude has accomplished in his career, it doesn’t feel like it really needs to. You’ve got splashes of classic MSG sound, a nice Dio-spiced song and even a Deep Purple sounding opening track. There’s even a song that seriously reminded me of a Queens of the Stone Age song (The Queen of Thorns and Roses). There’s one crappy speedbump of a ballad tucked midway through (After the Rain), but overall the album moves at a fairly crisp pace. The album ends with a cover of Scorpions’ In Search of the Peace of Mind, which feels a bit like a dig in the continuing rivalry between Michael and his brother, Rudolf.
Overall, this is a nice little record. Schenker is still one of the unsung guitar heroes from the 70s and 80s. It’s kind of sad that his name doesn’t get thrown up with some of the other guitar titans of his time. Hell, this album is nice to have simply to hear his effortless and melodic leads on some new songs.
3.5 flip flops out of 5