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(Hard Rock) MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP - Immortal album review

Release Date: January 29, 2021 (Nuclear Blast)

Written by Jeff Tighe

Immortal is the 11th album released under the Michael Schenker Group (MSG) name, but there are others under associated names. Two things MSG have in abundance are talent and change. Dozens of musicians have played for MSG, with Schenker implementing enough regular turnover to make Ritchie Blackmore look like a rock of stability. On this album alone there are two keyboard players, three drummers and four lead vocalists, with three more making guest appearances. This is not a band so much as it is Schenker and a rotating group of friends and associates.

Despite the lack of consistency in personnel, Schenker has put together perhaps the best MSG album since the under-rated Built to Destroy in 1983. Immortal contains a collection of catchy, well-written hard rock songs that have that patented MSG sound that was prevalent on the band's first four releases.

There are seven songs that are, for the most part, quick-to-fast paced rockers that are heavy enough to satisfy the old school metal heads who were listening to MSG, UFO and Scorpions back in the early 80s. To name just a few, "Drilled to Kill", "Don't Lie on Me Now" and "Devil's Daughter" are stand out tracks, but all seven are classic MSG.

Of the remaining three, "After the Rain" is a power ballad, but again, it is so well written that it won't make you rush to push the skip button...and that is difficult to do since power ballads suck as a rule. "The Queen of Thorns and Roses" is a bit of a pop-rocker, and Michael Voss' vocal style doesn't help, but it too is catchy and not hating it is a surprise guilty pleasure. The final song on the album, "In Search of Peace of Mind", is a remake of a Schenker song off the first Scorpions' album back in 1972. It is a progressive rock ditty with blistering guitar work at the ending, and even those who aren't much into prog rock will find something to like in it.

Schenker's guitar work is superlative throughout as usual, and that is simply to be expected. This reviewer would have preferred if the album had one main vocalist to give it some consistency; of the four main vocalists, either current Rainbow singer Ronnie Romero or former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner would have been the best choice. But if a variety of talented musicians is the weakest part of an album, then you are producing something pretty damned good. (8)

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