Whenever we mention bands like UFO or SCORPIONS, we think of one person who made his mark. After more than 10 years of silence, the legend Michael Schenker, known not only for his music, riffs, and solos but also for his unique style of holding his Flying V guitar between his legs for vibrato and bending strings. A guitar hero to many, he has returned to form MSG (the MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP). This new album, “Immortal,” released on January 29th, 2021, via Nuclear Blast Records, marks the 50th anniversary of the German guitarist’s career. In relation to the MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST, Michael Schenker has renewed its lineup by inviting a lot of guest musicians, such as Ronnie Romero, Joe Lynn Turner, Ralf Scheepers and Michael Voss on vocals; Simon Philipps and Brian Tichy on drums; Barry Sparks on bass; and Steve Mann and Derek Sherinian on keyboards.
Michael Schenker is an absolute legend and he packed this MSG record with incredible stars like Ralph Shapers, Ronnie Romero, Michael Voss, Doogie White, and Simon Phillips among others. Once you get into the musical structure of this album, it feels like a good ’80s hard rock/metal work. The first thing that sticks with you is that it’s a rollercoaster ride, changing directions with every single track. Furthermore, the quality of the sound is the glue that holds this record together. This is a great album to listen to, once you get into the soundscape, which is warm and rich.
From MSG, we obviously expect great guitar playing and that’s exactly what we get, but this time with two different elements within the guitars. The aforementioned rich and warm sound creates a really incredible volume that makes the listener very comfortable. It makes you take your guard down so you can really enjoy everything that’s coming at you. As well, the sound feels like it gets bigger and bigger with every single song. The second element is the wonderful balance with the rest of the instruments, such as the keyboards, which blend very nicely, creating warm consistency and melody.
The album, as mentioned, offers from hard rock ballads as well as heavy songs. “Drilled To Kill” takes MSG to speed metal horizons. Ralf Scheepers’s powerful and melodic voice works wonders and fits perfectly with Michael Schenker’s riffs, and there is a fabulous duel with Derek Sherinian’s molten keyboard.
With a more classic sound and great melodic guitar work throughout. “Don’t Die On Me Now” follows vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. Very standard and you get what you expect from Michael Schenker‘s trademark playing. With “Don’t Die On Me” and “Sangria Morte,” Joe Lynn Turner‘s vocals are remarkable, bringing a warm voice with a catchy feel and great melodic power.
In the spirit of the ’70s, Michael Voss delivers beautiful soft songs like “After The Rain,” a beautiful epic ballad full of feeling, while “The Queen Of Thorns And Roses” is a good direct and catchy mid-tempo song.
The track that most caught my eye – or perhaps ear – is “Knight of the Dead.” Powerful drums and guitars come in together to create a really big wall of sound, coming at you thick and strong. The vocals really guide the direction that it needs to go and it’s really an interesting dynamic.
The next stand out is “Devil’s Daughter,” a pure rock track from start-to-finish. The opening riff is very gritty and raw and that sound stays true throughout the track, while in the verses, you really feel the guitar pushing the song forward, then you get into the catchy chorus.
Overall, this album is powerful and doesn’t depend on the guitars alone; all of the different elements play their role in the overall soundscape and no one is slacking off. This is a record that does all the heavy lifting for the listener. You don’t have to do any work – just sit back, enjoy the ride, and let the music take you on this journey.
Written by Peter Jerman
- Drilled To Kill
- Don’t Die On Me Now
- Knight Of The Dead
- After The Rain
- Devil’s Daughter
- Sail The Darkness
- The Queen Of Thorns And Roses
- Come On Over
- Sangria Morte
- In Search Of Peace Of Mind
Michael Schenker – Guitar, Vocals
Ronnie Romero – Vocals
Ralf Scheepers – Vocals
Joe Lynn Turner – Vocals
Michael Voss – Vocals
Barry Sparks – Bass
Steve Mann – Guitar, Keyboard
Bodo Schopf – Drums
Simon Phillips – Drums
Brian Tichy – Drums