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'Spirit on a Mission' is the latest, introspectively named album to be released by Michael Schenker alongside his Temple of Rock troupe - namely, ex-Rainbow/ex-Malmsteen singer Doogie White; guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay; Herman Rarebell and Francis Bucholz (drummer and bassist respectively; both ex-Scorpions). And the titular introspection is because, during a moment of self-reflection, that's precisely what Schenker realised he was: "a spirit on a mission, spreading the joy of music from a place of pure self-expression." In fact, that's always been the case although he claims to have realised such much later in his career. So here he is, once again, to spread that "joy" with twelve new cuts.

Whereas it was claimed that the album preceding this one, 'Bridge the Gap', was called as such to reflect its fusion of the old with the new, it swayed more discernibly towards the old, with retro rock underpinnings remaining predominant throughout. However, this time, the old/new fusion is more pronounced on a record that does, at least on the surface, provide a much more varied listen. Apparently, Findlay took a more active role in the creative process this time around, with Schenker tasking him to write some 7-string riffs. And it's on those very tracks (five of 'em, to be precise) that the blend of old versus modern is more pronounced. The low-end sonics of that extra B string provides more of a heavy dynamic that combines neatly with Schenker's layer of more 70s rooted retro rock ('Wicked' is a prime example of this). Elsewhere, 'Something of the Night' adds a little fretboard eccentricity to proceedings with his much touted 'Howler' technique; 'Saviour Machine' has a kind of stoner vibe to its down-tempo, heavy, low-end sonics; there's a little Teutonic speed metal with tracks like 'Restless Heart' and 'Rock City' (albeit each song's key riffs do sound a little too similar); and material with flavours of Schenker's past, such as the UFO-esque 'Good Times'.

As with 'Bridge the Gap', each musician shines on the album, but it's White's ever-awesome vocals, and Schenker's incredibly lush guitar tone that shine through the brightest. Also of note is that, during the album's production, a break-in at the studio resulted in some recordings being stolen as well as four of Schenker's guitars. Seemingly unaffected by the bad experience and knock-back (the results are here to be heard), it's commendable that the five musicians still marched forth to make such a fine album. But, of course, Schenker is a spirit on a mission, so who could ultimately stand in the way of that?! And his mission continues here with another dose of fretboard virtuosity and musical panache. Great stuff.
Review by Mark Holmes
23rd March 2015
1) Live and Let Live
2) Communion; 3) Vigilante Man
4) Rock City
5) Saviour Machine
6) Something of the Night
7) All Our Yesterdays
8) Bulletproof
9) Let the Devil Scream
10) Good Times
11) Restless Heart
12) Wicked
"...his mission continues here with another dose of fretboard virtuosity and musical panache."