Title - 'Spirit On A Mission'
Artist - Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock
In all honesty, this highly-anticipated third installment from Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock might just well musically succeed in places that their sophomore release, Bridge The Gap, failed. Not that Bridge was a bad album, far from it, but it was much heavier, whereas Spirit On A Mission is most notably not so much.
Sure this is still straight up, hard rock, and one still firmly rooted within the band’s historic musical background, but there's just something more melodic about Spirit, that's all.
For those not in the know, Michael Schenker is a prolific German rock guitarist, best known for his tenure in UFO, in addition to his solo band. Indeed, he first rose to fame as an early member of the Scorpions, then achieved fame in the mid-1970s as the lead guitar player for UFO.
Jumping to the (relative) here and now, in 2011 Schenker released the album, Temple of Rock and then in 2013 the sophomore follow up, Bridge The Gap. Schenker actually recorded Bridge with his live band at the time, which included Herman Rarebell on drums and Francis Buchholz on bass, both former members of The Scorpions and Doogie White, formerly singer for Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen.
On the third in the series, Spirit's collection of brand new songs steeped in shades of dark and light showcases his Temple of Rock band in such a way that it delivers flawlessly, and with understated genius throughout. With his band still consisting of the aforementioned Herman Rarebell, Francis Buchholz, and Doogie White, they have simply added longtime collaborator Wayne Findlay on 7-string guitar.
The album gently eases itself into life with a little instrumental segment, before catching fire on 'Live And Let Live.' Sounding a speeding train about to leave the tracks at every tight bend, it's just the perfect way to set the scene here. The blues-lite vibe of 'Communion' is next, and is followed by both the standard rocker 'Vigilante Man' and the Scorpions-inspired 'Rock City.' The pop rock of the bands side emerges on 'Saviour Machine', but it's on 'Something For The Night' that Findlay truly comes to the fore. Complete with an epic Michael Schenker duel, the "battle" is royale, for sure. It's also the best track on the album; in my humble opinion.
'All My Yesterdays' allows both Herman Rarebell's and Francis Buchholz's talents to bleed through, with what is probably the heaviest track on the album. As the lyric goes, "Who knows where time goes," which reflects back on this new album with these great musicians perfectly. The 12 track new collection continues on with Rainbowesque 'Bulletproof', with 'Let The Devil Scream' a song that could easily fit onto any Black Sabbath album in a heartbeat.
Doogie White's vocals are tearing things up on this album, and they continue to illuminate the lyrics on 'Good Times,' a track that reminded me so much of Schenker’s old UFO roots. Indeed, every time I get to this track after hitting repeat (which you should do also, of course), I always flashback to those golden days of his. The fast-paced 'Restless Heart' is next, and once the incredible guitar solo has diminished, the album finally comes to a close with another Sabbathesque track, 'Wicked'.