Michael Schenker Fest – Revelation (Nuclear Blast)
In the past the ego would have landed – five times over in the case of this star-studded supergroup – and a promising project would have imploded before the starting gun even sounded.
But Michael Schenker is a changed man. Collaboration, rather than conflict, is key in 2019. And with the hitherto volatile German leading from the front, the egos have been parked and the passion for anthemic hard rock reignited.
Somehow, Schenker has once again persuaded larger than life personalities and MSG alumni Graham Bonnet, Gary Barden and Robin McAuley to join forces with Doogie White. And by pooling the quartet’s considerable vocal talents in the studio – as he has done to such triumphant effect in the live arena – a rather remarkable record has been spawned.
From the off, Revelation sounds far superior than its predecessor. Rock Steady evokes the very best of MSG’s classic 80s output with all four singers complementing a killer Schenker riff. But less is often more on Revelation and when the various vocalists are given the opportunity to strike out alone the effect can be quite dizzying: White is brilliant on the brooding Under A Blood Red Sky and the reborn Bonnet is the beating heart of The Beast In The Shadows.
McAuley, the ‘M’ in MSG from the late 80s to the early 90s, warms to his task on the somewhat reflective Silent Again while Barden is at his affective best on Headed For The Sun. Individually inspiring, the vocal quartet’s team work is equally compelling.
But forget the mic. What about the Mike? This is, after all, a Schenker album and the electric guitar is, inevitably, out front and ferocious. The blazing solo on Behind The Smile is an obvious reference point and it would be remiss not to refer back to Rock Steady – the man behind the band has rarely sounded better as he picks his way through the perfect rock song.
It would be far too easy to write off Michael Schenker Fest as some kind of vainglorious heritage act. The opposite is true. Masters of their trade and oozing experience, Schenker and his buddies are teaching the next generation a thing or two. And the sensational album artwork? Maybe the ego hasn’t exited the building after all…