There's a saying you hear occasionally, that an album's a 'grower', and that's exactly what I experienced with the brand new release from Michael Schenker Fest, Resurrection. Now, the German guitar legend's new opus is meant to be a reunion of sorts with many of his band bandmates in various incarnations of the Michael Schenker Group over the years, including singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, and current Michael Schenker Temple Of Rock vocalist Doogie White, along with Steve Mann (guitar/keyboards), Ted McKenna (drums), and Chris Glen (bass). All have played important roles in Schenker's line-ups since he left UFO, and here on Resurrection they come together to deliver an album that on initial listen doesn't sound all that outstanding, but slowly begins to reveal itself to actually be a very strong collection of material that sees the mad axeman in fine form and his bandmates willing and able to recreate past glories.
So, let's start with the very good. McAuley, for his part, sounds remarkably just as he did back in the late '80s when he first hooked up with Schenker for a trio of very solid albums, as you can hear right from the outset on the raging power metal thumper "Heart and Soul", which also features a pretty thrilling guitar duel between Schenker and Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, who just so happens to he a huge fan of Michael and he's pretty inspired here wailing alongside his hero. "Warrior" is a fist pumping, memorable anthem that sees all the vocalists taking part in what is one of Resurrection's ultimate highlights, and sure to be a hit in a live setting on the current tour. White is out in full force on the melodic "Take Me to the Church", a tune that could have settled in nicely on Assault Attack, and Bonnett applies his still venomous 'attack' on the heavy "Night Moods", complete with some crunchy riffs and blazing solos from Schenker. The rhythm team of Glen & McKenna dig deep on the raging metal track "The Girl With The Stars In Her Eyes", also noteworthy for another strong White vocal (this guy never disappoints), loads of guitar riffs, and a smattering of keys from Mann. Schenker's acrobatic guitar pyrotechnics weave around Bonnett's fiery vocal on "Everest", another aggressive track here that really works, and McAuley once again steals the show on the dark, riff fueled "Time Knows When It's Time". Mann's thick Hammond organ tones combat some meaty riffs and a soaring White on the excellent "Anchors Away", and the moody "The Last Supper" again sees all four vocalists doing a fine job together, the chorus brimming with rich melodies and Schenker dropping in some tasty solos to top it all off.
Sounds like a real winner right? For the most part, it really is. You'll notice that the one person I haven't mentioned at all is Gary Barden. Unfortunately, his performances here are pretty uninspiring for the most part. Though he's at his best on his small parts on "The Last Supper" and "Anchors Away", when given the spotlight on "Messin' Around" and "Livin' A Life Worth Livin' ", he doesn't show any of the fire, or the range, of his comrades, and kind of sleepwalks through these two songs. Not awful by any means, but considering his low profile in recent years you would have thought he would have tried to put in something extra here. Also, the instrumental "Salvation" is somewhat of a disappointment, and despite some tasty soloing from Schenker, sounds like a rehash of his old favorite "Captain Nemo".
Otherwise, Resurrection is a very solid release that continues on with Michael Schenker's strong showing in recent years. Whether the 'Fest' concept continues on or he goes back to the Temple of Rock remains to be seen, but this is clearly an album that gets better with each listen, and the novelty of hearing his perform with many of his old bandmates again is just too cool to pass up.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
01. Heart And Soul
03. Take Me To The Church
04. Night Moods
05. The Girl With The Stars In Her Eyes
07. Messin' Around
08. Time Knows When It's Time
09. Anchors Away
11. Livin' A Life Worth Livin'
12. The Last Supper