"Bridge The Gap"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Nobody can deny the impact of Michael Schenker on hard rock and heavy metal, but I doubt if even Michael himself would argue that his output has been erratic in the last decade or so. There are a lot of sides to the acclaimed guitar maestro and not all of them agree with me. Well, with the Temple of Rock project he's put together, we get the side of Michael Schenker I like best...the blazing guitarist dedicated to quality heavy rock in the classic tradition.

What a pleasure this record is to listen to and what a great band Michael has put together. His old buddies from The Scorpions, drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Bucholz, are backing him up with rock solid rhythm work,  multi-talented Wayne Findlay contributes his own guitar skill as well as keyboards and most importantly, Schenker hooked up with the perfect vocalist for his vision, well-travelled Doogie White, who seems to be the "go to" guy when it comes to melodic metal these days. Doogie's work is absolutely superb here and it might just be the best performance I've ever heard from him, I can almost forgive the mistake he made fronting the faux version of Tank!

This is truly inspired heavy rock and you can tell Michael really enjoys playing the hard stuff again. The music is incredibly catchy and reminds me of the great days of Rainbow when Dio was in the band. There's also a lot of the more modern Uriah Heep as well as a throwback to Michael's MSG days. You can tell right from the opening power chords of "Nepture Rising/ Where the Wild Wind Blows" that you're in a for a treat. What catchy riffing, what great vocal hooks and what a solo from Mic hael! The album continues in much the same manner, with a lot of sizzling fast rockers like "Horizons", "Land of Thunder" and "Behind The Lies" leading the way. Schenker sounds really relaxed and therefore at his can feel the enjoyment he has in playing here. There's also a lot of strong mid-paced rockers like "Land of the Lost and Lonely", "To Live For the King" and "Temple of the Holy" with great Rainbow-like melodies to carry you through. No real ballads here, no fusion or acoustic stuff...this is Schenker and the boys rocking out hard.

This has got to be Michael's best work since "Attack of the Mad Axeman" all those years ago. "Bridge The Gap" is simply one of the best melodic metal offerings of the year!