Michael Schenker Group, Universal (Atomic Fire 2022)

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.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://michaelschenkergroup.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://michaelschenkerhimself.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MichaelSchenkerRocks

Atomic Fire Records, https://label.atomicfire-records.com/project/michael-schenker/

© Wayne Edwards

Michael Schenker Group, Universal (Atomic Fire 2022)

Brkn Love at The Vogue, April 30th

Brkn Love wrapped up their current tour this past weekend, including the penultimate stop at The Vogue in Indianapolis.

Brkn Love (฿ Ɽ ₭ ₦ ⱠØVɆ) has been on the road for the past few weeks supporting Badflower on an arc of shows that traversed a winding path, leading finally to the toe-stub stop in Broad Ripple on Saturday night. While lightning flared outside, Justin Benlolo and the band threw down their music with accustomed gusto to the swelling crowd.

My first time seeing Brkn Love was a couple years back at Aftershock in Sacramento. I was impressed by performance and the sound they put together. The music they play is hard-edged rock that sometimes gets labeled alternative. To me there is a classic vibe in it, updated and extended through the eccentricities and urgencies of the composers.

The tour has ended for now, so here are a few pictures to help remember the show at The Vogue. The follow-up to the band’s self-titled 2020 debut album can’t be too far away, and when it arrives it will be big news. Until then, stream the current single “Like A Drug” and think back to the last time you heard them play live.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

BRKN Love, https://www.brknlove.com/

Spinefarm Records, https://spinefarm.merchnow.com/catalogs/brkn-love

The Vogue, https://thevogue.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Brkn Love at The Vogue, April 30th

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

The axe swings again with a new four-CD set of the first albums from iconic metal band AXE.

I remember buying those early Axe (often stylized as AXE) albums in the 1970s and early 1980s. It is entirely possible that I bought the first one on the strength of the cover art alone – I was young. What you heard when you listened to the music was something that was very different from other contemporary bands. Melodic vocals and keyboards, which might make you think of bands like Styx or even Kansas, but with surprisingly sharp guitars. That’s what I remember most about Axe, those big guitar riffs that were so prominent in the mix.

The original Axe line-up (emerging after the demise of the band Babyface) was Bobby Barth (guitar, vocals), Edgar Riley, Jr. (keys), Mike Turpin (bass), Teddy Mueller (drums), and Michael Osborne (guitar). At the beginning, many band members traded off on vocals, but eventually the singing focused on Barth. Axe was growing in popularity with each passing year, and sales of their albums were increasing. They were well known as an energetic touring band and it looked like the sky was the limit. Tragedy struck in 1983 when Michael Osbourne died in a car accident that also badly injured Bobby Barth, and the band broke up immediately after. Axe did reform in the 1990s and have released several albums since. It is those first four that are stuck in my head, though, and they are the ones in the new set.

The clamshell box the new CDs are issued in hold individual sleeves with the original album artwork for all four releases: Axe (1979), Living On The Edge (1980), Offering (1982), and Nemesis (1983). The Offering CD has six bonus live tracks, and there is a 16-page booklet with an essay about the band by Dave Thompson, and liner notes. Lots of photos as well.

The new set is out now on the Dead Line imprint of Cleopatra Records. I am a big Axe fan so it was an easy choice for me. Listen to a few tracks at Bandcamp or Spotify if you want to test the waters before taking the plunge, but it is a solid bet the physical products won’t be available for long. Get them while you can. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://therealrockaxe.bandcamp.com/album/the-albums-1979-1983

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/axeband1979

Cleopatra Records, https://cleorecs.com/store/shop/axe-the-albums-1979-1983-4cd/

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

Gods Of Decay, Collective Psychosis (Sliptrick Records 2021)

Tokyo-based metal band Gods of Decay release their first full-length album, Collective Psychosis.

The musicians in the band are listed as Anna (vocals), Frost (guitar), and Yorke (bass). Regarding the new album, Anna remarks: “On this album we scattered a myriad of shards of meaningfulness lost in the abyss of absurdity of our day and age. We hid them with metaphors and double entendre and we hope that our listeners enjoy the ‘treasure hunt’ on their journey through the mesmerizingly sinister spaces that make up the world of Gods Of Decay. Seek, and ye shall find.” That tells you a little something about the band, too. The music is a modern metal amalgam.

Listening to these songs in order is like walking down the aisles of a flea market in an aging armory – there are all sorts here. “Self-Castigation” is a club music intro. In “Collective Psychosis” you can really feel the mental state fray as the song progresses. The vocal harmony, which gets regular use on the album, is a deep enhancement. “Metamorphosis” has a great groovy riff and a somewhat squealy vocal. There’s that harmony again in there, too. “Plague” starts on a rolly-polly riff with a sting plus a shock vocal. After the bracer, clean vocals propel the story on. And then the very next track is something else entirely, and on and on.

Different looks; different takes. According to the band, that is the conscious intention. Some of the music reminds me of a smoother version of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black but with considerably more polish and far greater detail in its assertions. There is a center to all of this that the galactic material orbits. You can hear it in every song. No matter how different one is to the next, you can feel that gravitational pull towards the essence of the band. That is where the cohesion comes from and why I recommend this album. It is heavy and delightfully variegated throughout.

Collective Psychosis is out now from Sliptrick Records. Give it a spin.

Links.

Website, https://www.godsofdecay.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/godsofdecay

Sliptrick Records, https://sliptrickrecords.com/gods-of-decay/

Gods Of Decay, Collective Psychosis (Sliptrick Records 2021)

Splintered Reality, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, September 12, 2021

This band is a high-energy amalgam of rock, thrash, groove, and a whole lot more. Jump in with them and shake it up.

All photos by Wayne Edwards

Links.

Website, http://splinteredrealitymusic.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/splinteredreality

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZs23_O7VwG3ZyOyCy-V6_A

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazinehttps://www.ryze-up.com/music-2/blue-ridge-rock-festival-2021/

© Wayne Edwards.

Splintered Reality, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, September 12, 2021

I Prevail ~ Frame 42 ~ Inner Image Photo Gallery

Here is another cache of three bands I took a few photos of grouped together for an eclectic rock gallery. I Prevail at Blue Ridge Rock Festival (Danville, Virginia), Frame 42 at Higher Ground (Burlington, Vermont), and Inner Image, also from Blue Ridge Rock Festival.

Here we go. The musical styles of these bands range far and wide, and they all gave us fantastic music to listen to in 2021.

All photos by Wayne Edwards

I Prevail
I Prevail
I Prevail
Frame 42
Frame 42
Frame 42
Inner Image
Inner Image

Links.

I Prevail, https://iprevailband.com/

Frame 42, https://www.frame42.com/

Inner Image, https://www.innerimagemusic.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazinehttps://www.ryze-up.com/music-2/blue-ridge-rock-festival-2021/

© Wayne Edwards.

I Prevail ~ Frame 42 ~ Inner Image Photo Gallery

Miss May I ~ Volbeat ~ The Lonely Ones Photo Gallery

Sometimes I don’t get enough usable photos to throw up by themselves. Totally my fault, but sometimes shit happens. Still, there might be a couple good ones and I hate to leave them in the vault. This is one of those.

Three completely unrelated bands: Miss May I at Blue Ridge Rock Festival (Danville, Virginia), Volbeat at Louder Than Life (Louisville, Kentucky), and The Lonely Ones at Higher Ground (Burlington, Vermont). The Volbeat photo is a crowd shot but I like it so I have included it anyway. Rock on.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

The Lonely Ones
The Lonely Ones
The Lonely Ones
Volbeat
Miss May I
Miss May I
Miss May I

Links.

Miss May I website, https://missmayimusic.com/

Volbeat website, https://www.volbeat.dk/us/

The Lonely Ones website, https://thelonelyones.net/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazineBlue Ridge Rock Festival 2021 – (ryze-up.com)

© Wayne Edwards.

Miss May I ~ Volbeat ~ The Lonely Ones Photo Gallery

Clutch, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 10, 2021

Clutch never disappoints. This was the first time I had seen them since the international slow-down, and it was a fantastic show. I can’t recommend them enough.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, http://www.pro-rock.com/

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/6tqGMedAtDADU5mJulYhSj

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialClutch

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Clutchband

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage in Ryze-Up magazine, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2021 – (ryze-up.com)

© Wayne Edwards.

Clutch, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 10, 2021

Joyous Wolf, Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground, Burlington, Vermont, October 29, 2021

Orange County, California rock band Joyous Wolf made a pass through the Northeast in October on their Fearless tour. I never get enough of the bluesy rock delivery that they create so fluidly.

Check out Joyous Wolf’s music on streaming platforms, including the latest release, Fearless. Links appear below the photos.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, https://fearless.joyouswolf.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/joyouswolf

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7W3_dDSqeHZCny8ZBumofg

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/48vfT7i3EmuNEDAVRhzxpp

© Wayne Edwards.

Joyous Wolf, Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground, Burlington, Vermont, October 29, 2021