Michael Schenker has long been one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. The sheer amount of albums the former Scorpions and UFO albums the Mad Axeman has been releasing in recent years speaks for itself. Be it Michael Schenker Group, McAuley Schenker Group, a solo album, Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, or Michael Schenker Fest, the man is that rare musician who has continued to keep busy, churning out a ton of new material that’s shockingly good.
And he’s back with another new album!
UNIVERSAL is the latest from Mr. Schenker, who seems unlikely to stop recording albums anytime soon. But if they’re this good, is that a bad thing? Schenker has assembled a band this time around that features Ronnie Romero on vocals, Bodo Schopf on drums, Steve Mann on keyboards and guitars, and Barend Courbois on bass. One thing’s for sure; no matter what band Michael plays with, he’s always got an all-star band of musicians backing him up. The UNIVERSAL album is no exception.
While I don’t know that UNIVERSAL will take a place in my all-time favorite recordings Schenker has ever played on or even if it’ll stand the test of time the way those older records have, what I won’t deny is that this is a damn good record with some fantastic players. The riffs of opener “Emergency” will melt the listener’s face, prepping them for what’s to come. “A King Has Gone” is the latest in a long line of Ronnie James Dio tribute songs those admired him have been cranking out, and certainly one of the best of the lot. “London Calling” (surprisingly NOT a cover of the Clash song) is a great anthem dedicated to English rock. “Au Revoir” has some great riffs that are reminiscent of the classic instrumental “Captain Nemo” from the old MSG days, albeit with lyrics this time around. From start to finish, fast and slow, heavier and more melodic, it’s never a boring record.
Bless the Mad Axeman for never letting up when it comes to delivering the goods musically. Michael Schenker is still on fire, and fans won’t be disappointed in his latest effort. Highly recommended!