Browsing through my local venue’s ‘What’s On’ literature recently I was pretty excited to see Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock on the cards for this coming January. I play a little guitar, and so does “Mini-hoops”, so the opportunity for us to see a genuinely great player up close and personal in a small venue is not to be missed. The only problem is that while Schenker‘s output over the years has been prodigious, for me personally a lot of it has been stuff I can either take or leave; music that I never mind hearing but would never actively search out and buy. However, after hearing this preview, I’m very happy to say the new Temple Of Rock album, Spirit on a Mission, is one I certainly will be buying (I thoroughly recommend you do the same through the Decibel Geek amazon link in the sidebar) and therefore giving me a massive ‘in’ by the time that show rolls around.
The album features Schenker’s Temple of Rock band, consisting of ex-Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Buchholz, ex-Rainbow vocalist Doogie White and Schenker stalwart (since 1999), Wayne Findlay on 7-string guitar & keyboards …and while Schenker‘s guitar-God credentials were, and are, never in any doubt, the band is every bit up to the task providing a powerful and dynamic backing, which makes this sound very much like A Band rather than some-band-plus-A VIRTUOSO.
Of the album Schenker says, “I always write in the same way but this time, especially driven by a precise concept. The picture was album balance for me and combine many years of emotions in one. I wanted lots of double bass drum to keep the fast songs rolling like a train with lots of energy covered with interesting elements, a couple of my UFO days-type of mid tempos and the 7 string low sound to get a very wide range of sounds and emotions.”
In all truthfulness, he’s achieved what he set out to do and more. White‘s vocals have that sweeping Dio-esque delivery as he steps up time and time again to stamp his personality on the album. Rarebell‘s drumming is rock-solid, locking into the groove AC/DC-style, and his double-bass use, when he breaks it out, is tasteful as hell. Buchholz‘s bass parts are similarly solid and root-driven into the floor, which is all good in this context. Findlay‘s riff-making on the 7-string behind Schenker, which let’s face it must be a daunting task, is at times awesome along with tasteful keyboard work and, as with the whole band, it contributes interesting dynamics to the overall sound and drive of the album. Between the performances and the production, handled by Schenker & Michael Voss, they deliver an album of seriously hard rocking tracks. There’s some real face-melting riffs and soloing on songs like “Let The Devil Scream” & “Saviour Machine”, while tracks like “Something Of The Night & “Restless Heart” recall the best days of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. As for the man himself, Schenker‘s playing is incredible, of course, but is always dedicated to the needs of the song; no wank-fest-shredding here, buddy. Overall, this is an album I would urge every rock and traditional metal fan to listen to, and it’s already down as one of my favourites of 2015 so far. That show in January can’t come quick enough, but at least it gives me time for some more research….
3. Vigilante Man
4. Rock City
5. Saviour Machine
6. Something Of The Night
7. All Our Yesterdays
9. Let The Devil Scream
10. Good Times
11. Restless Heart