B-Mac Album Review: Michael Schenker Group, Immortal

Photos by Mathis Rethmann

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

Do any of you Uncivil Revolters remember a cable talk show dedicated to hard rock and heavy metal called That Metal Show? It featured a Radio DJ and two comedians (Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine) that loved to chat about our favorite genre with different guests like Tony Iommi, Kerry King, and Adrian Smith. Unfortunately, it was cancelled in 2015 after 15 successful seasons, but at least I got to attend two tapings. I remember in one episode during the 10th season, I saw guitar god Michael Schenker perform as the guest musician. It was my first time I ever heard that name, and I was mesmerized by his shredding capabilities. Performing with his Gibson Flying V since the age of 11, he has been in famed groups such as U.F.O. and the Scorpions, where he played with his older brother Rudolf. Today, the Mad Axeman is still making waves as a virtuoso machine with the Michael Schenker Group (MSG), and they have just finished their first record in 13 years, Immortal. 

Photos by Mathis Rethmann

“Drilled to Kill” gets the album off and running. Primal Fear’s Ralf Scheepers handles the vocals, and he delivers a dominant set of pipes. Schenker is spellbinding with his classic, melodic hard rock style riffs that made him a legend. Keyboardist Derek Sherinian of Sons of Apollo heats up the song with hellacious melodies as he battles Schenker in a solo showdown. “Don’t Die On Me Now” revs up the engines as Rainbow’s Joe Lynn Turner gives it a go on the mic. He is tamer than Scheepers, giving the song a more pop, sensible feel. To be honest, it feels like a throwaway song, as if written only to fill in the record. It is not a bad song as Schenker performs terrific riffs especially towards the end, but I did not get a great vibe from it as a whole. “Knight of the Dead” is a much better song to get behind. Lords of Black Ronnie Romero is aggressive on the mic, soaring viciously high with his soprano voice. The bass and drums are electric as Schenker lights up the room with his up-tempo licks that blaze brightly. “After The Rain” features an epic, power-ballad riff that Schenker pulls off beautifully. Producer and singer Michael Voss conveys an emotional, divine vocal contribution that is very blissful. “Devil’s Daughter” speeds things up again with Scheepers returning. Both Scheepers and Schenker play off each other’s talents impeccably, making them an explosive team. Bassist Barry Sparks is dynamite with his mighty beats that scream classic heavy rock.

Photos by Mathis Rethmann

Halfway through Immortal as we come to “Sail The Darkness.” Romero returns to the mic and kills it. The drum work is non-complex, but its simplicity is what makes the tune very impactful thanks to Bodo Schopf. When I listen to this song, I can visualize sailing into the dark and unknown. “The Queen of Thorns and Roses” is an all-around rock ‘n’ roll splendor. Voss comes back in with a mid-tempo flow that is beguiling. Schenker is razor-sharp with his riffs and solo that oozes greatness. Honestly, this is one of the best riffs off this album. Romero gets in touch with his Dio side in “Come On Over.” One of the more heavy tracks, I was getting into the classic 80s hard rock vibe. The solo Schenker displays is exhilarating and charismatic. It has the chops to be a crowd-pleaser at either Madison Square Garden or the House of Blues in Anaheim. This is a personal favorite of mine. “Sangria Morte” features Turner once again on vocals, and I honestly see this tune as his redemption. It is more progressive and the flow of the music goes with his singing more smoothly. Sparks impresses me with his appealing bass licks that play along with Schenker’s chops. Immortal gets closed out with the Scorpions classic, “In Search Of Peace of Mind.” Romero, Gary Barden, Doogie White, and Robin McAuley each lent their voices to retell the iconic song that Schenker wrote for Lonesome Crow at just 15 years old. It has not lost any of potency as the Mad Axeman slashes through riffs with ease.

This album has the perfect title in Immortal because it shows that Schenker will be immortalized as one of the greats. The great mixture of guest vocalists helped capture the essence of each song and its moods. No matter how old he gets, he never loses his love or lust for making bombastic heavy metal. Though there was a couple of songs I thought could have been better, I enjoyed listening to album, and I am sure the guys from That Metal Show will enjoy it too. To the Michael Schenker Group, I salute you. Horns up!!!

8.7/10

Track Listing:

1 Drilled To Kill
2 Don´t Die On Me Now
3 Knight Of The Dead
4 After The Rain
5 Devil’s Daughter
6 Sail The Darkness
7 The Queen Of Thorns And Roses
8 Come On Over
9 Sangria Morte
10 In Search Of The Peace Of Mind

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