Michael Schenker Group follows up last year’s album Immortal with the new studio record, Universal.
If Michael Schenker doesn’t have legendary status in rock and roll then nobody does. He was one of the earliest members of the Scorpions and, past-group-wise, he is probably most frequently remembered for his work with U.F.O. But really, after all this time, he is best known for being Michael Schenker and for the group that bears his name. A tireless purveyor of riff and hook and melody, Schenker is on the short list of iconic rock guitarists. Along with Michael Schenker on guitar, of course, the band for the new album is Ronnie Romero (vocals), Bodo Schopf (drums), Steve Mann (keys, guitar), and Barend Courbois (bass).
The set starts out dramatically with “Emergency,” offering a tense riff and a warning structure. The vocals are melodic and urging, and the guitar lead is an excellent probing, exploring ranger that emerges from a classical underpinning. “Under Attack” keeps the tone but slows a touch. Sporting a memorable chorus, it is the guitar again that seals the deal.
“Calling Baal” is an intro piece for “A King Has Gone,” a song that pays tribute to Ronnie James Dio. In particular, you can hear Rainbow in these pieces, and to show even more respect, Tony Carey, Bobby Rondinelli, and Bob Daisley – like Dio, all Rainbow alum – play on the sequence. It is worth getting the album just to hear this.
Other stand-out tracks for me include “Wrecking Ball,” a growling road tune, and “Sad Is The Song” because it has such a great build and wondrous guitar work. This album is another exceptional effort by the Michael Schenker Group. They are on tour right now so make sure you go out and see them. I know I will. Recommended.
Universal is out today, Friday, May 27th through Atomic Fire Records on digital, CD, vinyl, and earbook. You can get it just about anywhere.
Atomic Fire Records, https://label.atomicfire-records.com/project/michael-schenker/
© Wayne Edwards