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MSG – Universal

by Metal Wim at 03 June 2022, 12:06 AM

MICHAEL SCHENKER is one of the old masters, and one of the most influential guitar players that ever walked the Heavy Rock and Metal earth. Having started his impressive career in the early seventies with bands like SCORPIONS and UFO before forming his own band, he has made a number of very impressive records. On the other hand, he has also made a number that weren’t that good, but which were usually saved by his manner of guitar playing, and especially his guitar solos. Nobody I know can put so much emotion in a Heavy Metal guitar solo. It is what sets off Michael Schenker from the rest.

The last couple of years he was busy with his MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST, recording and touring with all the vocalists he has used during his solo career. Somehow he must have felt it was time to bring out the original name again, so this is being released under the moniker of MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, MSG for short. And he has done himself proud, as it is another testament of the fact that this man doesn’t know how to stop.

The songs are in the Melodic Rock and Metal vein, and the addition of vocal chameleon Ronnie Romero has secured him that every song will be sung exactly as the big master intended. And, of course our Chilean superstar doesn’t disappoint with his efforts and vocal lines. Neither do any of the other musicians. They all fill in what needs to be done in just the right way, making “Universal” just that, a record that can be universally enjoyed. And a lot of melodic Rock enthusiasts will be doing that, I am sure.

And yes, here I go again, I am missing something. I am missing the typical Michael Schenker sound, in the riffs, in the guitar solos as well as in the songs. This could have been made by anyone. The trademark sound of MSG in general, and Michael Schenker specifically, is missing a lot of the time. It does occasionally rear its beautiful head, but not as much as I would have liked. There you have the reason that my ratings are a little below par. What I do applaud is the homage MSG has recorded for the passing of Ronne James Dio. “A King Has Gone” is a very apt way to remember the best rock singer this world has ever seen.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Emergency
2. Under Attack
3. Calling Baal
4. A King Has Gone
5. The Universe
6. Long Long Road
7. Wrecking Ball
8. Yesterday Is Dead
9. London Calling
10. Sad Is The Song
11. Au Revoir
12. Turn Off The World (Bonus track)
13. Fighter (Bonus track)
Ronnie Romero – Lead & Backing Vocals
Michael Schenker – Lead Guitars
Steve Mann – Keyboards, Rhythm Guitars
Barend Courbois - Bass
Bodo Schopf - Drums
Record Label: Atomic Fire Records


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Edited 04 February 2023

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