Revelation is the second album from German guitar legend Michael Schenker under the moniker of Michael Schenker Fest, which is basically a gathering of many ex-members of MSG, including vocalists Gary Barden, Graham Bonnett, Robin McAuley, and Doogie White, bass player Chris Glenn, drummers Simon Philips & Bodo Schopf, guitarist/keyboard player Steve Mann, and guest vocalist Ronnie Romero (Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow/The Ferrymen). The album follows Resurrection from 2018.
With a cast of characters this large, one would hope that everyone gets their moment to shine, and as with last year's Resurrection, that is indeed the case here again. All four ex-MSG vocalists get to share equal parts together on the opening anthem "Rock Steady", a real '80s styled commercial hard rocker, as well as the ultra memorable "Sleeping With the Light On", a beefy rocker chock full of hooks and potent vocals from all involved. White takes the full reigns on the lethal "Under a Blood Red Sky", a tune with a memorable hook and plenty of tasty Schenker guitar work, while the still formidable McAuley shows off his terrific pipes on the accessible "Silent Again". Bonnett takes over for the chugging, slightly moody "The Beast in the Shadows", another tune with a memorable chorus, though Graham is straining for parts of the song and the arrangement is nothing spectacular despite a blazing Schenker solo. Doogie is back at the helm on the crisp hard rocker "Behind the Smile", another highlight here that has some crunchy riffs and tasty synths from Mann, as well as a powerful vocal from White, followed by "Crazy Daze", an unmemorable track that contains an equally mediocre vocal from Barden. "Lead You Astray" fares much better, nimble licks from Schenker and a scorching McAuley vocal highlight this fast paced heavy rock song brimming with hooks, acrobatic drum work, and vintage sounding guitar work. The suddenly very much in demand Romero appears on "We Are the Voice", a power packed number featuring potent vocals, organ, beefy riffs, and a sizzling guitar solo. "Headed For the Sun" is another Barden vehicle, and while this one is more successful than "Crazy Daze" thanks to a memorable chorus and one of Schenker's more explosive solos on the album, his lack of range is still readily apparent. "Old Man" is another tune featuring all four singers, and out of the three it's my least favorite but still a decent tune, with McAuley handling the chorus and the other three the verses. Bonnett is back for the frantic "Still in the Fight", complete with some occasional moments of brilliance from Schenker but otherwise fairly generic sounding. Revelation closes out with the instrumental Ascension, another speedy rocker with some fleeting Schenker solos, but it's way too brief to really pick up any steam.
Overall, a bit of a mixed bag from Schenker and the gang- when it's good, it's actually quite good, when it's not, well, it's fairly forgettable. McAuley and White sound quite strong here, Bonnett has his moments, but Barden doesn't seem to have much left in the tank at this point, something I saw first hand seeing this outfit live a few months back. Romero's inclusion here is quite interesting, and you have to wonder if this special guest appearance might lead to a future collaboration with Schenker at some point. As for the Mad Axeman himself, he's fairly contained on this outing, his solos coming in short bursts and only on a few occasions does he really wow the listener with impressive flights. There's also not a great deal of memorable riffs on the album, Schenker instead seemingly content with having the singers stand out more while he takes a back seat through most of the album. Despite all this, some good songs & memorable melodies, but it could have been better and seems like a step backwards from the fine Resurrection. Oh, and that album cover...not sure what he was thinking there.
1. Rock Steady (feat. Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley & Doogie White)
2. Under a Blood Red Sky (feat. Doogie White)
3. Silent Again (feat. Robin McAuley)
4. Sleeping with the Light on (feat. Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley & Doogie White)
5. The Beast in the Shadows (feat. Graham Bonnet)
6. Behind the Smile (feat. Doogie White)
7. Crazy Daze (feat. Gary Barden)
8. Lead You Astray (feat. Robin McAuley)
9. We Are the Voice (feat. Ronnie Romero)
10. Headed for the Sun (feat. Gary Barden)
11. Old Man (feat. Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley & Doogie White)
12. Still in the Fight (feat. Graham Bonnet)