Album review: MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK – Spirit On A Mission

MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK – Spirit On A Mission

Inakustik [Release date – 23.03.15]

I have been lucky enough to see Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock on several occasions over the last few years and I have witnessed the band gelling and getting stronger with each show. The last album ‘Bridge The Gap’ was a great record but I did feel that there were a few tracks which perhaps weren’t quite up to standard, but the intent and promise were clear.

Fast forward to the present and to ‘Spirit On A Mission’ which had a troubled inception as the original master recordings were stolen from the band’s studio along with several of Michael’s guitars. The guys bounced back from this and have managed to produce possibly the album of the year.

The opening track, ‘Live And Let Live’, starts with a short, discordant passage before tearing into the main riff which explodes in a hail of big riffs and double bass drums. This is a relentless, fast paced rocker with a great melody and chorus, a theme that is repeated through all the 12 tracks on offer.

‘Communion’ follows with a bluesy feel and again another huge chorus with Doogie White giving it his all. ‘Vigilante Man’ is next up and will be familiar to anyone who caught the band on their dates at the tail end of last year. This is a fairly straight forward classic rocker but the song writing and structure are spot on which helps it rise above the mainstream.

The pace then hots up again for ‘Rock City’ which races along at breakneck speed. One of the main elements of this record is the drumming from Herman Rarebell which is breathtaking. His frequent double bass work underpins many of the tracks and really enlivens each song.

‘Saviour Machine’ is yet another change of pace with a slower, chugging riff which leads into a quiet mid-section before building again and returning to the heavy riff once more, again the song structure is spot on.

For me though the track of the album is ‘Something Of The Night’. Again Rarebell is on fire but it is the guitar work from Schenker that really makes this track stand out. His riffing sounds like a variation on ‘Flight Of The Bumblebee’, frantic, urgent and highly impressive. Live this track will be a showstopper.

‘All Our Yesterdays’ takes things down a notch again with a far eastern feel to the music thanks to the keyboard flourishes from Wayne Findley. Francis Buchholz and Rarebell then kick off the next track ‘Bulletproof’ with a solid bass pattern that beats you into submission as the track rocks along like a runaway train, yet another monster of a song.

Doogie White is in excellent voice throughout this album and ‘Let The Devil Scream’ is one of his finest moments. His vocal is rich and strong and a perfect accompaniment to Michael’s classic riffs. ‘Good Times’ is a reflective song with White lamenting the good times that have passed by, with this record though I can see many good times ahead for him and the band.

‘Restless Heart’ and ‘Wicked’ then round off the album in fast paced and rocking fashion and bringing to a close one of the best albums I have heard in a long time. From the opening bars to the closing chords this is a masterclass in classic rock and one of the best Schenker albums since the early 80’s.

Michael recently turned 60 and like a fine wine he appears to be getting better with age. I have a feeling that the 2015 vintage may be one of the best yet.  *****

Review by David Wilson

The Best of 2015


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