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Michael Schenker Fest – Revelation (Album Review)

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There are some names so pervasive in the hard rock scene that they have become a foundational component of the genre’s historic identity, inseparable from the very core of such an enduring sound, and Michael Schenker is one of those names. With the same musical genius that built the early legacies of the Scorpions and UFO, Michael Schenker Fest delivers the timeless magic of 70’s rock with the stylistic flair of crisp, modern production. 

The group’s sophomore album, “Revelation,” offers lofty promises to listeners just by consequence of the legendary name that adorns its cover, and by the long-lived footprint of the group that was its predecessor. In the same way that Michael Schenker Group (MSG) served as a vehicle for Schenker’s explorative musicianship as he aged out of the spotlight, “Revelation” proves itself Schenker’s latest endeavor to revive the flame of his musical prowess on the stage of the twenty-first century. 

To build the throne upon which “Revelation” sits, the album utilizes the vocal talents of Gary Barden (MSG), Graham Bonnet (MSG, Rainbow), Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group), and Doggie White (La Paz, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force). While these musicians have nearly two centuries of experience between them, “Revelation” is a demonstration of the principle that quantity is not necessarily more valuable than quality. With songwriting that seemingly intends to bridge styles of rock both past and present, it’s uncertain if the abundance of vocalists was a necessary investment for an album that relies heavily on the roots of hard rock to draw its listeners. 

That’s not to say that the array of vocal talents are wasted on this well-crafted work of art; the song “Sleeping With the Light On” is made distinct by a vibrant, melodic chorus that invites listeners to sing along. Accented by the signature guitar style that Schenker has refined through decades of experimentation, “Sleeping With the Light On” brings flawless musicianship alongside voices of unmatched power. Both this track and “The Beast In the Shadows” showcase the ability of “Revelation” to pit guitars and vocals against one another in beautiful harmony. At first listen, it may seem like vocals and guitars are fighting for dominance with one another, but upon a more careful listen, it’s clear that both sides have an equal amount of time in the spotlight. What may at first seem like dueling is actually a careful, yet playful balance of the technical skills that these talented musicians bring to the table. 

“Revolution” Album Artwork

Despite the brief forays into a more polished, highly-produced sound characteristic of modern rock groups, much of “Revelation” fell into the well-worn comfort of rock in its earliest form. As much as Schenker has continued his solo work as a way to carry on his ceaseless creative passion, it’s clear that on tracks such as “Headed For the Sun” and “Crazy Daze” that it was simply more comfortable to settle back into the style that was born of his early work. As comforting as it may be in its familiar closeness to rock of yore, this choice in songwriting has led to a high degree of predictability in a number of tracks. Modernity rears its head in the thrilling speed of technical guitars, particularly on “Ascension,” but the model on which Michael Schenker Group produced their sound clearly endures in this latest incarnation of rock. 

Sitting and listening to “Revelation” is like picking up a new copy of a book that’s been read many times before; the words and rhythms inside are familiar and comforting, but it’s dressed in a well-balanced modern mix with indomitable technical musicianship at thrilling speed.

Released By: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: September 20th, 2019
Genre: Hard Rock / Heavy Metal

Musicians:

  • Michael Schenker / Guitar, Vocals
  • Gary Barden / Vocals
  • Graham Bonnet / Vocals
  • Robin McAuley / Vocals
  • Doogie White / Vocals
  • Steve Mann / Guitar, Keyboards
  • Chris Glen / Bass
  • Bodo Schopf / Drums

“Revelations” Track Listing

  1. Rock Steady
  2. Under A Blood Red Sky
  3. Silent Again 
  4. Sleeping With the Light On
  5. The Beast in the Shadows
  6. Behind the Smile
  7. Crazy Daze
  8. Lead You Astray
  9. We Are the Voice
  10. Headed For the Sun
  11. Old Man
  12. Still in the Fight
  13. Ascension
8.0 Great

Built by masterful hands that crafted the sounds of a generation, “Revelation” delivers the familiar comfort of well-crafted rock with the technicality, speed, and production to meet the growing demands of the modern musical arena

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 7
  • Production 8
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