With guest appearance levels worth of Slash’s self-titled solo début album in 2010, and Santana’s 1999 smash hit Supernatural, comes the Michael Schenker Fest album Resurrection (Nuclear Blast). The German guitar maestro’s latest project is a star-studded who’s who from his career, including Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley – the three original MSG singers as well as fellow MSG cohorts Steve Mann (guitars, keyboards), Ted McKenna (drums) and Chris Glen (bass). Not forgetting the Temple of Rock trio Doogie White, Wayne Findlay and Michael Voss-Schon, on vocals, guitars, and production duties respectively, and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.
As you would expect from such a huge and wide-ranging cast, the end product covers most of rock’s spectrum from Metal, Power Metal and Hard Rock to AOR and even Celtic flourishes. This broad brush stroke approach yields some good results as the Robin McAuley sung album opener ‘Heart and Soul’ testifies to, a big song with a power metal sense of bombast, a relentless beat and a thrashy guitar – courtesy of Kirk Hammett. Things take a decidedly Van Halen turn with ‘Messing around’, a bluesy nugget of fun with lively honky-tonk piano and Gary Barden’s carefree, David Lee Roth style vocals. Sung by Graham Bonnet, ‘Everest’ is a hard rocker with a rolling riff and occasional stabbing synths, all of which creates a restless sense of urgency. Also sung by the ex-Rainbow frontman is ‘Night Moods’, a smooth slice of 80s AOR that I cannot help but like even though it sticks out like a thumb.
The variety on show here is somewhat refreshing, showing that everyone involved is not resting on their laurels. Not afraid to jump from ‘Anchors Away’, melodramatic Hard Rock with a big set piece of a chorus, to ‘Salvation’, a Celtic inspired instrumental with plenty of fretwork. Ultimately though Resurrection’s rather eclectic nature leaves it feeling like 12 unconnected tracks rather than one coherent whole. Also, whilst Michael Schenker’s skills are undeniable he is guilty of getting carried away with himself, with the guitar histrionics becoming rather tiring after a while – ‘Living a Life Worth Living’ case in point.