Michael Schenker has had quite the storied career. He has recorded and performed with both UFO and Scorpions over the course of his decades-long career. He has also recorded and performed with his own band, Michael Schenker Group. The music that he has crafted with both UFO and Scorpions is considered some of the greatest in rock’s modern history. The music that he has crafted with his own band has proven to be just as enjoyable for his fans. Now with the recent release of Spirit on a Mission, the new album from his latest project, Temple of Rock, Schenker can add another mark to his already extensive resume. This album is a one more album that every rock purist should have in his or her own music library. The twelve-track album mixes the bombast of his former bands’ arena rock sound with something heavier and more focused. The end result of those sounds is a record that could potentially be another of this year’s best new rock records. The proof for this argument comes early on in the album’s second song ‘Communion.’ This is such an interesting song because its blues-infused rock sound is a direct contradiction to its lyrical content. Another piece that makes Temple of Rock’s new album so interesting is ‘Saviour Machine.’ Anyone that is a fan of Black Label Society will like the song’s familiar, heavier sound. The song’s lyrical side makes it just as interesting. The song’s lyrical content comes across as a personal commentary of sorts. Both elements together make it yet another example of why this record stands out in an increasingly crowded field of rock records. While both ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ each present their own proof as to what makes Spirit on a Mission so enjoyable for rock purists, they are just part of what makes this album stand out. The aptly titled ‘Rock City’ helps make the record stand out just as much. This full-on rock song throws back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair with its musical side. Its lyrical side is just as classic with front man Doogie White’s subject singing to a girl that he’ll give her everything. Those classic lyrics and straight-forward, driving tempo will put a smile on any rock purist’s face as he or she sings along. Whether for this song, the others noted, or those not noted, audiences will agree in listening to Temple of Rock’s new album that Spirit on a Mission more than succeeds in its mission.
Spirit on a Mission is a solid follow-up to Michael Schenker’s 2011 album Temple of Rock. From start to finish, this twelve-track record succeeds in its mission as it will both entertain listeners and have them thinking with its mix of music and lyrics. This is made clear early on in the album’s second track ‘Communion.’ It is such an interesting song because Schenker’s blues-infused rock sound is a direct contradiction to the lyrics penned by front man Doogie White. The song’s lyrical content comes across as presenting the standard story of a broken relationship. The situation for the couple in this song seemingly starts out fine, as White sings, “Watch as the candle gives out the light/Show me the pages/On which the ink won’t dry/Tell me your secrets as the candle burns low/Whisper you love me/Then it’s on with the show.” It doesn’t take long for things to go south and White’s subject to end up alone. White sings in the song’s final verse, “Now that it’s over/I cried in my sleep/Woke in the morning/With the secrets you keep/Give you my best/I gave you a little bit more/A slap in the face when you slammed the door/I don’t belong here no more.” Considering these lyrics, one wouldn’t think this song would have the solid blues-infused sound that it boasts. It’s definitely not the pairing that one would expect when thinking about such lyrical topics. Having such an uncommon dichotomy, it more than proves itself on of the most notable of this album’s songs. Thus it definitely stands out as at least one piece that makes this record well worth the listen.
The surprisingly entertaining musical and lyrical dichotomy presented in ‘Communion’ makes it a clear example of just what this latest effort from Michael Schenker has to offer listeners. Considering that not many acts would take such a chance as that taken here says quite a bit. That the chance taken has paid off here says even more. It’s just one of the album’s many smaller successes that make Spirit on a Mission its own success in whole. ‘Saviour Machine’ shows in its own way why Spirit on a Mission is such a success. This song is one of a pair of pieces that displays a different side to Temple of Rock on this record. It is a much heavier tune than others musically speaking. Those that are fans of Black Label Society will especially enjoy its slower, heavier sound. Lyrically speaking, it is just as certain to have listeners talking. Written by Doogie White, Michael Schenker, and Wayne Findlay, the song’s lyrical side comes across as a commentary of sorts. This inference can be made `as the trio writes, “We passed the point of no return/We stood and watch as cities burned/The sound of laughter cuts the night/Destroyed your world with my despite.” The trio goes on to write in the song’s second verse, “The soldiers marching off to war/Wonder what the hell they’re dying for/So speaks the tongue of the liar/As mountains crumble to the seas/Their hearts are crushed by man’s disease/And now they bathe in the sorrow.” As the song’s chorus states, this is coming from the vantage point of a very cynical figure. The figure almost says with a grin, “Your world is shakin’ and I don’t hear you call/Just scream my name/Hail the saviour machine.” It could be argued that the message presented here is a commentary about people’s indifference to everything going on in the world until things get to their absolute worst. That’s when people seem to really turn to a higher power. As always, that interpretation could be entirely off. It is merely this critic’s interpretation. Right or wrong, it proves in the end to be a really heavy piece both musically and lyrically. Being so heavy both musically and lyrically, it shows clearly why it is yet another prime example of why any rock purist should hear both this song and Spirit on a Mission in whole even if only once.
Both ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ are important additions to Spirit on a Mission. They both exhibit a certain heaviness in their own way. The same can be said of the band’s full-on tribute to the golden days of rock that is ‘Rock City.’ This song will take listeners back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair right from its first strains. Its straight-forward, driving tempo and classic lyrics about a man wanting to give a woman everything will put a smile on any listener’s face. In all honesty, anyone that knows their music history will instantly equate the song to Judas Priest’s hit song ‘Freewheel Burning’ thanks to those opening moments. This applies both to Schenker’s work on guitar and drummer Herman Rarebell’s solid time keeping. On the lyrical side, White sings, “Your broken heart, girl/Can still be mended/Stay with me until the morning comes/It’s a long road to nowhere/Believe me when I say you gotta give me some more/We’re gonna rock this city/This city of love.” Considering this and some of the song’s other lyrics, one would actually associate this song more with the classic love ballads of the 80s. But thanks to the juxtaposition of the song’s full-on musical side to these lyrics, it gives the song a whole other identity. The pairing of the two elements within the song makes the song come across as that of a man who really wants to make things work and make a woman happy. Compared to so many overly sappy, over-the-top ballads that were crafted by the bands of the 80s (and even 90s) a song such as this is a great contradiction to those songs. And it is also just as great of an addition to Spirit on a Mission. It is one more way that this album proves Schenker and his Temple of Rock band mates definitely succeed in their mission with this record, one of the best new rock records of 2015.
‘Rock City’, ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ each show in their own way why Spirit on a Mission succeeds in its mission of entertaining audiences. They do so through the combination of both their musical and lyrical sides. While all three of the note songs each show in their own way that Spirit on a Mission succeeds in its missions, the album’s other tracks should not be ignored in that argument. ‘Bulletproof,’ ‘Let The Devil Scream,’ and ‘Wicked’–the album’s closer–each could be used to make that argument, too along with any of the other songs that make up this album. Regardless of which song(s) one picks, the result is the same. Listeners will agree that Spirit on a Mission succeeds wholly in entertaining audiences from its first track to its last. They will agree, too that that same entertainment makes it a solid candidate for any critic’s list come December for the year’s best new rock records. Spirit on a Mission is available now in stores and online. More information on Spirit on a Mission or any of Michael Schenker’s other projects is available online at:
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