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Michael Schenker Group – Immortal Award winner

Michael Schenker Group
Immortal
by Jean-François Poulin at 23 February 2021, 9:32 AM

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP is a Hard Rock band from London, England by way of Germany. Michael Schenker is better known as a founding member of both UFO and THE SCORPIONS. This latest album called ‘’Immortal’’ celebrates his 40th anniversary as a solo musician and 50th as a musician and artist. This is the first MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP album since 2011’s ‘’By Invitation Only’’Michael Schenker is widely known as one of the main guitar influences of some of the greats out there like James Hetfield, Dimebag Darrell, Slash, Kirk Hammett, Kerry King, Dave Mustaine amongst countless others. His iconic Flying V guitar will always be associated with him and he has been at the helm of other projects like MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST, MICHAEL SCHENKER TEMPLE OF ROCK and mixed in with his solo career as well. The guy has been at it for 50 years and he still tours constantly and goes pretty much everywhere, he is considered as one of the most hardworking musicians out there in all the world and he is relentless to say the least.

This album contains a lot of guests including 3 drummers, the legendary Simon Phillips, Bodo Schopf and Brian Tichy. You also have some awesome vocalists including the incredible Ralf Scheepers from PRIMAL FEAR, Doogie White, Michael Voss, Gary Barden, Robin McAuley and legendary former YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and RAINBOW vocalist, Joe Lynn Turner. And you can add the keyboard wizardry of Derek Sherenian, formerly of DREAM THEATER and now part of SONS OF APPOLO. Michael Schenker was able to back himself with some fine talented gents so let’s see if the album delivers the goods. I have never ever listened to his material, maybe except his stuff in UFO and THE SCORPIONS but I am not familiar with his other projects so this will be a fine first for me. This album is really a celebration for Michael Schenker, he is surrounded by his friends and wants to celebrate his milestones in the biggest way possible. In interviews he said he plays to live and not the other way around. He seems extremely passionate in his playing and it’s really evident on this album. The album is a mix of Hard Rock favorites mixed with a bit of Metal and some mid-tempo songs. He dips his toes in these styles and it makes me for a very solid effort.

His guitar playing is flamboyant and seems more refined that his brother Rudolf. We all know the troubled relationship between both brothers and it’s no fun at all. Michael reminds me of a toned down and expressionist version of Yngwie Malmsteen. He can carry a tune and can go overboard but his playing adjusts to the vocalist at hand. He is not going to play the same way as he does with Ronnie Romero than he does with Joe Lynn Turner or Ralf Scheepers. I enjoyed the fact that no song is alike and his guitar playing is beyond masterful yet it has a certain maturity I hadn’t heard much these last few years. You have some pretty nice highlights like the mid-tempo ‘’Don’t Die on Me Now’’ with Joe Lynn Turner at the helm. It really reminded me of his time in RAINBOW actually and it’s a great throwback to an era of RAINBOW that a lot of people have quite forgotten. We all remember the Ronnie James Dio years but RAINBOW had some great material with the likes of Joe Lynn Turner and other guest musician, Doogie White‘’Drilled to Kill’’ is pretty much better than anything on the last PRIMAL FEAR, an album I reviewed and was really disappointed by it. It was an underwhelming effort from one of my favorite bands but Ralf Scheepers totally redeems himself on this song, channeling a bit of his early GAMMA RAY days and toning it down a bit and it’s one heavy opener. It really gives the listener a big fat kick in the pants and really kickstarts this opus.

He says this album is the most important of all of his decades in music. He decided to end the album with ‘’In Search of the Peace of Mind’’ the very first track he wrote back when he was only 15 years old on his mother’s kitchen table. He says that this song is his pinnacle, his treasured moment and it’s one hell of a closer. The solo is quite amazing and you have to hear it to believe it, it’s that good. He pulls out all the stops and he seems to have fun doing it and that is rare nowadays for an artist. He genuinely loves to play guitar and loves to entertain fans, he is a showman and one hell of an axeman. I will definitely dig deeper in his back catalogue because this album was a real eye opener. You can break down all the tracks and you can see the influence he has had on guitarists from the 70’s and onwards. This album is a case of bringing forth of the very best guitarists of all time to the forefront and showing that heart and determination brings you results. This album is a celebration of an epic guitarist and his continuing legacy, a real immortal in the genre! One of the very best guitar-oriented albums of the last decade.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Drilled to Kill
2. Don’t Die on Me Now
3. Knight of the Dead
4. After the Rain
5. Devil’s Daughter
6. Sail the Darkness
7. The Queen of Thorns and Roses
8. Come on Over
9. Sangria Morte
10. In Search of the Peace of Mind
Lineup:
Michael Schenker - Guitars
Barry Sparks – Bass
Ronnie Romero - Vocals
Steve Mann - Keyboards
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
     


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Edited 07 March 2021
 

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