"Spirit On A Mission"

By Colonel Angus

Let me clear, I am a huge Michael Schenker fan.  I have been following his career since 1978 and have purchased pretty much every item that bore his name.  Being the uber-fan that I am, I have absolutely no problem in giving a review that might some might see as harsh.  When you love music as much as I do, your idols can sometimes let you down with their releases.  Some of the McAuley material was not my cup of tea and some of his late 90s early 2000s material was hit or miss.  But I have to say that since the 2008 release of "In The Midst of Beauty", Michael Schenker seems reborn and has been going from strength to strength.  "Temple Of Rock" (2011) and "Bridge The Gap" (2013) were great albums and I have to say that they come close to rivaling his early MSG work. Now we get another winner in the form of "Spirit On A Mission".

Where do I start?  Try as I might, I can’t really find a negative thing to say about this record.  I have been over it with a fine tooth comb and the album as a whole is as solid as ever.  It is really similar to "Bridge The Gap" and most of that has to do with the fact that it is the exact same band this time around.  Just like the first two MSG records were very interchangeable, so are "Spirit On A Mission" and "Bridge the Gap".  That is not to say that the music is repetitive, it’s more about it being of the same high caliber as the previous album.  After a brief intro, the album kicks in with a heavy fast rocker in “Live And Let Live” and from there, "Spirit On A Mission" is peppered with similar tracks like “Rock City”, “Something Of the Night”, and “Restless Heart”.  The other tracks may be a bit slower but certainly still maintain the heaviness factor.  One of my favorites is “Let The Devil Scream” which has a bit of a modern guitar sound, but still retains the classic Schenker melody.  It’s precisely that melody that Michael Schenker has in his playing that makes fans come back time and time again.  He doesn’t over-play a song and his solos fit perfectly.

As mentioned previously, the band is the same as last time but if you’ve been “out of the loop”, let me give you a breakdown.  Handling vocal duties again is Doogie White.  We first got a taste of what these two can come up with when they released “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” off "Temple Of Rock".  Although I have always been a fan of Gary Barden’s vocals, I have to say that Doogie White’s performance on the last two records (counting this one) have been stellar.  I have followed his career as well and even though I like Rainbow’s "Stranger In Us All" and his work with Yngwie Malmsteen and Tank, I think his work here beats them all.  Wayne Findlay is also back and he really adds to the sound, whether it’s with his 7-string guitar or his keyboard playing.  He has been with the band so long that he has become a permanent fixture in the line-up.  The rhythm section is the one that brought the Scorpions to the world stages.  Francis
Buchholz and Herman Rarebell put in their usual solid performances with Rarebell going the extra mile and showing that there is still life in the older rocker.  Neither is ready for the old folk’s home and judging by their performances, they could show some younger musicians “how it’s done”.

I know, you’re probably saying to yourself “here is another biased review praying at the altar of Michael Schenker”.  True, this is a glowing review, but as mentioned earlier, I have been known to be very critical of Schenker releases.  If this record resembled "Arachnophobiac", I would be giving an entirely different review but thankfully, this is not the Michael Schenker of 2003.  It's 2015 and he is every bit the guitar god.  Now, we are in the early months of 2015 but I can’t imagine "Spirit On A Mission" not being in my top 10 of this year.