There aren’t many guitar players that have the pedigree of the German maestro Michael Schenker. From Scorpions to UFO to MSG, the axeman has paved the way for every guitarist that set ears on his hugely influential body of work. The likes of Kirk Hammett, Dave Mustaine, Dimebag Darrell and George Lynch have all cited him as an inspiration for picking up a six string. The image of Schenker and his trusty flying V is truly embedded in hard rock and heavy metal history.
His latest offering Immortal is the 11th released under the @ moniker and it certainly won’t disappoint his legions of loyal fans. Schenker has assembled an all-star cast with vocal duties shared by Ronnie Romero (Rainbow), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) as well as Barry Sparks (Dokken) on bass, Steve Mann on keyboards, and drum stool duties are shared by drumming royalty: Simon Phillips (Toto, Judas Priest, The Who), Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, The Dead Daisies) and Bodo Schopf (The Sweet). Michael Voss has returned as producer and delivered a punchy and bottom-heavy sound that certainly delivers the goods in the most part.
Opening track ‘Drilled to Kill’ kicks the album off with style, a crunchy riff, thunderous double bass drums and a fist-pumping chorus along with some Jon Lord style keyboard flurries certainly grabs your attention. The melodic lead guitar work adds layers to the song and the dueling keyboards and guitar at the climax are very impressive.
‘Knight of the Dead’ is another highlight with Ronnie Romero showing why he is very much in demand with a fantastic performance on vocals. Another powerful track with the whole band firing on all cylinders. There’s plenty here for classic rock and metal fans to get their teeth into with more fantastic musicianship on show.
We have an obligatory power ballad with ‘After the Rain’, producer Voss takes over vocal duties on this one. There’s a nod to the eighties with this track, it certainly wouldn’t have sounded out of place on one of those ‘Soft Metal’ compilations from the time. There are some decent vocal melodies and of course, the guitar work is great but there’s nothing particularly memorable about it.
There is some filler material as well, unfortunately, with the likes of ‘Devil’s Daughter’ with its dated and inappropriate lyrical content – ‘super-high stilettos’ and ‘lady of the underworld in a red hot dress’ Oh dear….
‘Sail the Darkness’ brings the quality back with a Maiden-style gallop and a catchy punch along chorus. ‘The Queen of Thorns and Roses’ has a great nod along riff with more fantastic guitar work from Schenker. He really knows how to elevate a song with his inimitable style.
Another stand-out moment is ‘Come on Over’ with Romero doing his best Coverdale impersonation with more standout riffs and some superb drumming. It’s hard to believe that Schenker is 66 years of age. His playing is outstanding. MSG have some UK dates penciled in towards the end of the year, let’s hope they go ahead. This album deserves a live airing.
Final track ‘In Search of the Peace of Mind’ is a reworking of a track from the Scorpions debut album ‘Lonesome Crow’ that Schenker wrote when he was 15 years of age. It’s a decent version in all fairness and it brings everything full circle for an artist that has survived 50 years in the music business and is still releasing some strong material. That is a testament to a fascinating character and a legendary career.
Buy ‘Immortal’ Here
Author: Kenny Kendrick