Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records
The magic is still with us. That simple statement is exhibited in a window on the rear cover of the booklet included in Michael Schenker Fest’s debut album Resurrection. It is a fitting statement (and placement) for that message to include in this record. That is because while it may be the new super group’s debut album, it is hardly the first time that the group’s collective members – Michael Schenker (Scorpions, UFO, Michael Schenker Group), Graham Bonnett (Graham Bonnett Band, Rainbow, Alcatrazz), Gary Barden (Gary Moore, Praying Mantis, Statetrooper), Robin McAuley (Grand Prix, Far Corporation, McAuley Schenker Group), Doogie White (La Paz, Praying Mantis, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow), Chris Glen (The Michael Schenker Group, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, John Martyn) and Ted McKenna (The Michael Schenker Group, Rory Gallagher, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band) – have ever performed together. Each has performed with one another in one way or another more than once throughout each man’s career, and that familiarity and friendship shines through here. The result of that long-running friendship is, in this latest effort – the debut LP from Michael Schenker Fest – another positive offering from the group. This is proven throughout the record in its musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. Its lyrical themes do just as much to make it enjoyable, and will be discussed a little later. The bonus DVD that comes with the record’s expanded edition puts the final touch to its presentation. Each element noted here is important in its own right to the whole of Resurrection. All things considered, they make Resurrection not only another solid effort from Schenker and company, but a record that shows without any doubt, that magic truly is still with each member of Michael Schenker Fest.
Resurrection, the debut album from Michael Schenker’s new super group (of sorts), Michael Schenker Fest, shows itself to be another solid offering from Schenker and company. It also shows without any doubt that the magic that has been with the longtime friends and fellow musicians, is indeed still present in this album. That is proven in part through the dozen total arrangements that make up the body of the record. The album’s opener, ‘Heart and Soul,’ is one way in which those statements are supported. The song’s arrangement boasts a sound that will appeal to fans of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and other similar acts from the so-called “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” thanks to Schenker’s talents. The added talents of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett in the song’s “guitar jam” (as it is listed in the booklet) adds even more of that touch to the song’s whole. The addition of McKenna’s solid time keeping and McAuley’s powerhouse, operatic vocal delivery and Glen’s low-end fills out the arrangement and pull listeners completely into the up-tempo rocker. It’s just one of the works that proves the importance of the arrangements to this record.
The full-on instrumental track ‘Salvation’ is another way in which the record’s arrangements prove pivotal to the album’s whole. Whereas the album’s opener was a tribute (intended or not) to the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal,” this more light-hearted arrangement is more akin to fellow guitar great Joe Satriani’s best works than any metal tune. McKenna’s time keeping and Glen’s low-end once again do their own part to play into such comparison, with McKenna’s time keeping having a certain, almost jazzy bounce and Glen’s bass line keeping right in time with McKenna’s beat on the bass drum. All things considered here, the group has crafted a work that shows even more why this record’s arrangements are so critical to its overall presentation.
As if ‘Salvation’ is not enough example of the importance of the records’ arrangements, ‘Night Moods’ shows in its own way, why the arrangements are so important. Where the album’s opener was a decidedly 80s British metal style composition and where ‘Salvation’ could easily be compared to compositions from Joe Satriani as recently as the 90s, ‘Night Moods’ presents in its arrangement, a sound that blurs the line between the guitar-driven rock and roll of the 1970s and the more hair rock sound of the early to mid 80s. That is thanks not only to the song’s instrumentation, but also to singer Graham Bonnett’s vocal delivery style. Bonnett’s delivery is full on 80s hair metal style even in the arrangement’s more 70s rock and roll moments. The pairing of the two sides makes this song another standout work that exemplifies once more the variety of the record’s arrangements. When that variety is considered in the bigger picture of the album’s whole, it becomes even clearer why the record’s arrangements are so important to its presentation. Of course the record’s musical arrangements are only part of what makes Resurrection proof that the magic is still there among Michael Schenker Fest’s members. The album’s lyrical themes do just as much to support that statement as the album’s musical arrangements.
‘Warrior,’ Resurrection’s lead single, is one example of what makes the album’s lyrical themes so important. Penned by Michael Voss-Schoen, the song seems to be a tribute to those military forces who put their lives on the line every day to keep the free world free. This is inferred as Voss-Schoen writes in the song’s lead verse, “If you open the book/Turn the page-take a look/You’ll find the truth right between the lines/Read the story all in one/How it all just begun/We’ll admit it’s one of a kind/Giving protection with love and affection/Standing for honor and pride/Every now and then/It will always be the same/Born to follow and walk a fine line.” He goes on to write, “You’re born into this world/To you/Believe in mankind’s destiny/Marching on the path of glory/When misery is all you see.” This comes across as a statement about someone who serves no matter what. As if that doesn’t infer that tribute enough, Voss-Schoen seems to drive the message home even more as he writes, “Under fire and attack/You hear a never-ending battle cry/the unsung hero stands alone/Waiting for the day to die.” Soldiers, warriors, are those unsung heroes who give that protection even with misery all around them. Keeping that in mind, one can’t help but figure Voss-Schoen was indeed paying tribute to those men and women who put it all on the line (including their own lives) to protect freedom and the free. Sure, it’s not the first time that any act has ever crafted a song that seems to pay tribute to the military. Even with that in mind, it still is just as moving and powerful here as in any other case. It’s just one of the songs included in this album that points at the importance of the record’s lyrical content. ‘Everest,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is another example of the importance of the record’s lyrical themes.
Also penned by Voss-Schoen, ‘Everest,’ seems to use Mount Everest as a metaphor for something far deeper. This is inferred as Voss-Schoen writes, “Holy mountain in the east/High up there where spirits meet/And the shiny clear horizon/Pretends to be the one/Find your destination/Now your trip has just begun/If you knew there was no tomorrow/Would you climb up to the sky?” It’s as if he is writing here about someone trying to reach something perhaps unattainable and whether someone would try to attain that unattainable goal. This is especially the case as Voss-Schoen writes in the song’s second verse that reaching Everest’s peak is called by some a “victory of the human spirit/Satisfaction guaranteed.” He notes that it may be that, though in reality so much might not have been attained. Again, this is just this critic’s interpretation. It’s definitely an interesting lyrical work that regardless of what Voss-Schoen was trying to get across, this song certainly adds its own depth to the record’s presentation. It isn’t the only song that succeeds at creating so much engagement. ‘Messin’ Around’ is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.
‘Messin’ Around’ is the polar opposite of ‘Everest’ and Warrior’ in regards to its lyrical content. Where the two aforementioned songs are deep and certain to generate plenty of discussion, ‘Messin’ Around’ comes across as something far more light-hearted.’ Co-crafted this time by Voss-Schoen and Gary Barden, this song is a celebration of life so to speak very much in the vein of Motley Crue. This applies not only musically, but lyrically, too. Voss-Schoen and Barden prove that as the pair writes, “Some might say I’m nasty/Some might say I’m a fool/But life’s a fight just to stay alive/So I forgot all the golden rules/The clock goes tick tock tick, tick tock tick/So come on guys, gotta get some action now.” What more need be written for the song’s message to be pretty obvious? The song continues, “So I’m cruising down to main street/Checking out the loverly dives/Give me a wall of sound/In this rock and roll town/It’s good to be alive.” The song continues on lyrically in similar, upbeat fashion, and when that upbeat lyrical vibe is coupled with the song’s equally upbeat musical mood, the whole makes the song in whole another great addition to the record, and more proof of the importance both of the record’s musical and lyrical content. When this is considered along with the lyrical content of the other songs noted here, and those not directly noted, that material in whole shows clearly the importance of the record’s lyrical themes. When that importance is considered along with the record’s musical content overall, the two elements do plenty, collectively, to prove again, that indeed, the magic is still with the members of Michael Schenker Fest and that this record is another solid offering from Schenker and company. Of course, it still is not the last of the record’s most important elements. The bonus DVD that comes with the record’s expanded edition supports those noted statements, too.
The bonus DVD that comes with the album’s expanded edition is anchored by a lengthy behind the scenes look at the making of Resurrection as well as an interview held ahead of the band’s performance in Japan for its previously released live recording. Both elements generate their own share of interest in part because of the humility exhibited by each musician. Each man stresses again and again that there is no ego among the musicians. That is made clear throughout the making of featurette. Audiences also learn through this segment, how the album came together, from which vocalist would handle singing duties on which song to how arrangements came together and more. Schenker even offers his own insight on how Michael Schenker Fest came to be, addressing rumors of band in-fighting with other groups playing into it and other items. His Japanese interview offers its own interest, too, with Schenker talking about how Kirk Hammett came to be included in the new record and more. The insights offered through each featurette itself collectively creates its own share of interest, just as does the album’s lyrical and musical content, and in turn insures even more, audiences’ maintained engagement in the album. When this is considered along with the impact of the record’s musical and lyrical content, the end result is a record that once more proves why it is a solid new effort from Schenker and company, and why it also proves that the magic is indeed still among the group. Keeping that in mind, the album in whole proves to be a work that fans of Schenker and his fellow musicians are certain to enjoy, and that they will also agree is deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.
Michael Schenker Fest’s debut album Resurrection is a strong new effort from famed guitarist Michael Schenker and his fellow longtime musician friends included in the album’s creation. Because Schenker and his fellow musicians are such good friends, it is obvious in hearing the album’s songs that the magic truly is with each man. There is a certain magic in the album’s musical and lyrical content, too. The bonus DVD that comes with the album’s expanded edition does plenty to show how alive that magic is among the musicians, too. When this is considered along with the album’s musical and lyrical content, the album in whole proves without doubt why it is a welcome new offering from Schenker and company, and why it is arguably one of this year’s top new rock albums. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Resurrection is available online now along with all of Schenker’s latest news and more at:
Website: http://www.michaelschenkerfest.com, http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com
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