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Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock: Spirit on a Mission

As someone who has been a fan of legendary guitarist Michael Schenker for 35 years, I've been waiting patiently for the last decade or two for the mad axeman to finally get settled in a band that rivaled the success he had with the Michael Schenker Group in the early '80s after he originally left UFO. It's taken him a while to get there, but a few years back he put together the Temple of Rock with vocalist Doogie White (Rainbow, Tank), guitarist/keyboard player Wayne Findlay, and his old cohorts in the Scorpions, bassist Francis Buchholz & drummer Herman Rarebell.Spirit on a Mission is the second album from this line-up, and picks right up where 2014s Bridge the Gap left off.

The most important thing to note with this band is that Schenker has now found himself some great writing partners with White & Findlay, resulting in some spectacular classic sounding hard rock & metal songs. Tracks such as "Live and Let Live", "Rock City", "Vigilante Man", and "Something Of the Night" are all classic Schenker tunes, filled with raging riffs, screaming guitar solos, and catchy hooks that are delivered powerfully by White. Buccholz & Rarebell have not lost a step, delivering the rhythmic goods throughout, driving chunky rockers like "All Our Yesterdays" and the speedy, tumultuous "Bulletproof" to lofty heights. However, it's the crushing "Saviour Machine" that's the real surprise here, possibly the heaviest tune Schenker has ever recorded, as the band approach almost Black Sabbath territory, a feat they come close to again on the slow, grinding "Let the Devil Scream". These crisp, energetic heavy rockers are supplemented by more melodic fare such as "Communion" and "Good Times", featuring some stellar vocals, tasty guitar licks, and atmospheric keys, while "Restless Heart" nears speed metal intensity and "Wicked" sees the band pummel the listener with massive groove metal not unlike vintage Pantera, but with an epic flair that reminds of early Rainbow. It's an interesting combination, and it really works.

Throughout, Schenker dazzles with blazing guitar solos as you would expect, but Spirit On a Mission comes across as a complete band effort rather than a solo album, the songs instantly memorable and hard rocking. Here's hoping he continues to go strong with the Temple of Rock, as this band really seems to be jelling now and there's no telling what more they might have in store for us in the future.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
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

Added: March 22nd 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2918
Language: english

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Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock: Spirit on a Mission
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-03-22 11:00:36
My Score:

If, ten years ago, you'd have asked a group of greying, been there, seen it all and barfed on the t-shirt Classic Rockers, which of their heroes would be flying the flag for their favourite type of music in the mid 2010s, then odds on Michael Schenker of Scorpions, UFO and MSG fame would have been very near the bottom of the list. However with his 2011 solo release Temple Of Rock, the man in question suddenly seemed to relight the Hard Rocking fire within. Taking that album's name for his new band (and when you can boast Herman Rarebell (drums) and Francis Buchholz (bass) both ex of Scorpions, Doogie White (vocals) ex of Rainbow and Wayne Finldlay as your cohorts, why not call the band Temple Of Rock?) Schenker treated us to the excellent Bridge The Gap in 2013, and now we have Spirit On A Mission. The ethos is honest and simple, Schenker and his band determined to pay homage to the era of music they had a hand in creating and so far they've done just that. Spirit hits more akin in style to Rainbow than UFO or Scorps, making for a good album but one which doesn't make an instant impact, or as lasting a mark as the previous Temple album.

Between them Schenker, White and Findlay wrote all of the tracks and with a punchy production/mix from the Michaels Schenker and Voss (Mad Max) the twelve tracks (thirteen if you buy the vinyl or deluxe edition) roar when required and shimmy when the mood takes. "Good Times" is possibly the most Scorpions like on the album, a buzzing riff of melody breaking into staccato stabs for the chorus, while "Wicked" and its hammer blow guitar is possibly the heaviest and at times most Dio like. White thrives here, a powerful, yet relaxed vocal fitting the bill with ease. However the best tracks sit somewhere in between, "Bulletproof" finding Findlay and Schenker firing wildly off each other as Rarebell nails the beat in place, "Live And Let Live" possessing one of those riffs that acts as a clarion call to all Classic Rockers, a rip roaring pace maintained throughout. While the jostling hustle of "Rock City", which sounds like UFO played at 45rpm (one for the vinyl junkies out there) and pulsating sing along "Vigilante Man" may well top the lot.

It's to the credit of Michael Schenker, and those now round about him that his output has gone in just a matter of years from being as run of the mill as Classic Rock got, to being as vital and captivating as Spirit On A Mission is. It maybe isn't quite up to the standard of his recent output, but this is still Schenker near his best. Long may it continue. All hail The Temple Of Rock!

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