MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST
Well, here's one I've been looking forward to for a while, ever since last chatting to Michael, towards the end of October 2017, about this reassemblage of MSG alumni... plus Doogie White. And catching one the Michael Schenker Fest shows in November, and witnessing, first-hand, the camaraderie and combined talents of vocalists Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, alongside bassist Chris Glen, sticksman Ted McKenna, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Mann and, of course, Michael himself, it all fared well for their inaugural recorded outing under the MSF banner. "Michael Schenker Family" is what I told him it could perhaps stand for, and he said that it has felt like one big musical family. Such bonding has translated ever so well in the songs comprising the aptly named 'Resurrection'.
The album kicks off with a blast of up-tempo metal energy in the form of 'Heart and Soul'; a track that features the much touted guest soloing from Metallica's Kirk Hammett. And, being a fan of, and influenced by, Schenker's fretboard work in his early days, Hammett's playing feels perfect for the song. But, it's the mainman himself whose guitar shines through just about every bar of music. Be it riffs, licks or leads, clean or distorted, his "spirit on a mission" sentiment can be heard, and felt, emphatically. This, perhaps, is most prominent on the instrumental stunner, 'Salvation' - as good as any instrumental number written by the man - although this German virtuoso's spirit characterises the entire album.
The vocal performances are also first-class, with Barden, Bonnet, McAuley and White blending their voices perfectly with the emotions of the compositions; synthesising their own musicality with Schenker's mission. There are some fantastically arranged and executed backing harmonies under the lead singing, and it's also a sheer delight to hear a polyvocal approach adopted on some of the songs, with all vocalists sharing lead duties within the same tracks. Glen, McKenna and Mann also shine through their performances on what is a masterfully produced album - Michael Voss-Schoen has done a fine job, production-wise... and also songwriting-wise, as he's credited with co-wroting five of the tracks, as well as providing additional backing vocals.
With tempo variance across the songs, there's a predominance of energetic, up-tempo pieces here. And an old school, retro rock/metal feel controls proceedings, but there are also many moments where the songwriting takes on a fresher and more timeless dynamic. And, transcending the songwriting itself, Schenker's playing is a timeless wonder of emotionally-charged bliss. From his succulent lead tone to his fretboard quirks, subtleties and attacks, he is, without a doubt, one of the rock/metal scene's finest and most influential players.
To quote Michael from press blurb, he states: "Time is running out very fast; letís make the most of everybody being alive." 'Resurrection' feels like a celebration. Of life, of music and of the familial comradeship between these talented individuals. He regards himself as being within the third stage of his life; a self-aware, celebratory phase. And his celebrations have continued with this masterful work of rock/metal merriment. Long may the party continue!
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd March 2018
1) Heart and Soul; 2) Warrior
3) Take Me to the Church
4) Night Moods
5) The Girl with the Stars in Her Eyes
7) Messing Around
8) Time Knows When It's Time
9) Anchors Away
11) Living a Life Worth Living
12) The Last Supper
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"'Resurrection' feels like a celebration. Of life, of music and of the familial comradeship between these talented individuals."