Michael Schenker: Bridge the Gap review

Former UFO and Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker has just set his latest metal monstrosity loose on the unsuspecting minions of devoted fans across the globe. It is entitled Bridge The Gap and is his second album of new material under the Temple Of Rock moniker. Schenker has been active in the music world since 1969 and, at age 60, he has been fine-tuning his craft for nearly four decades and has risen to prominence as one of rocks most respected and revered guitarists. Durning that time, he has amassed an almost unparalleled body of work consisting of three albums with the Scorpions, nine albums with UFO, five as MSG, 17 with the Michael Schenker Group, 12 solo albums and 23 different side projects. The new album was recorded at Kidroom Studios and was produced by Schenker and legendary producer and musician Michael Voss. The resulting album, Bridge the Gap, is a rhythmic attack of sonic diversity that defies convention and is concieved and executed with profound brilliance. The album stands as irrefutable proof that Schenker is still a significant figurehead and a force to be reckoned with in the world of music. It is also the first time since the 1979 Scorpions record Lovedrive album that Schenker has appeared on an album with his former Scorpions bandmates Francis Buchholz on bass and Herman Rarebell on drums. The album comes out swingging hard and delivers an immediate knockout blow with “Where The Wild Winds Blow,” a song chock-full of the Rock N Roll bravado of Dio-era Rainbow or just about anything in the Dio solo catalog. From there the album veers into the power metal territory of Primal Fear or Iron Maiden on “Horizons” and touches on the pure rock swagger of vintage Deep Purple with “Lord Of The Lost And Lonely.” “Rock N Roll Symphony” and “Temple Of The Holy” sound like lost tracks from the Born Again sessions of Black Sabbath, while tracks like “To Live for the King,” “Land Of Thunder” and “Dance For The Piper” pay homage to the NWOBHM sound and more specifically Saxon. Lead singer Doogie White is a vocal chameleon who adapts to the ever-changing grooves that Schenker in dishing out by channeling his inner Biff Byford, Ian Gillan or Ronnie James Dio to tailor fit any given sonic manifistation and is the perfect complement to the lush tapestries and intoxicating riffs created by Schenker. There are further nods to Rainbow and Ronnie James Dio on “Bridges We Have Burned,” while “Shine On” recalls his days in Scorpions. At the same time “Because You Lied” features subtle elements of U.F.O. and assorted flourishes of Thin Lizzy. “Black Moon Rising” is driven by a powerhouse bass line and one of the most infectious riffs Schenker has ever offered up, that not just merits repeat plays but demands them. If you get the deluxe addition, there is a bonus track called “Faith” that is sung by the incomparable Don Dokken that will leve you wondering why such an amazing song would only be a bonus track. Here’s the bottom line- Michael Schenker is a riff master in the league of legends like Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend and Malcom Young and Doogie White’s vocal prowess is stunning and should be in much higher demand. It is also the strongest and most melodic thing he has done in years. Rating: 9/10 -Eric Hunker