Michael Schenker is clearly one of those individuals who does not rest easily on his own laurels. Between working with Scorpions, UFO, and his own projects, Temple of Rock, Michael Schenker Fest, and Michael Schenker Group, Schenker has constantly had something new on his proverbial plate throughout his career. Most recently, his Michael Schenker Group project has kept him most busy. That project released its second album in less than two years Friday in the form of Universal. It released Friday through Atomic Fire Records, not even a year and a half after the release of the group’s then latest album, Immortal. Which released in February 2021 through Nuclear Blast Records. Schenker’s latest MSG album is a presentation that most audiences will agree is a welcome follow-up to Immortal, too. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany that musical content makes for its own interest and will be examined a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered they make the album another strong new MSG offering that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Universal, the latest album from Michael Schenker Group, is another positive offering from the group and its namesake founder. Its success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. From beginning to end, the arrangements each take audiences back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair and beyond. The comparisons to works from the likes of Judas Priest, UFO, and so many other bands abound throughout the record. At the same time, there is something about the arrangements that gives them just as much of a modern feel as a classic sense. Case in point is the album’s opener, ‘Emergency.’ The richness and heaviness of the guitar line alongside the vocals here gives the arrangement such a modern hard rock sound. At the same time, there is a subtle touch to that pairing (and the rest of the instrumentation and approach) that gives the arrangement a vintage hard rock sense. That balance works so well here and makes the song a solid first impression for this outing. On a completely different note, a song, such as ‘Wrecking Ball’ is full on vintage rock. The whole of the vocals and instrumentation gives this arrangement a full-on sleaze rock sense. It is hair metal to the nth degree. That is not a bad thing, either. In fact, it is quite infectious from beginning to end. ‘London Calling,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is another example of the importance of the album’s musical content. This is another vintage style composition. The thing is that it is more of a melodic rock style composition. The pairing of the organ with the bass and guitar makes for a rich three-part harmony that will keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout the song. The addition of the specific vocal approach adds even more interest to this arrangement. All things considered here, they make this arrangement its own unique presentation that audiences will enjoy just as much as any of the album’s other works. When all of the record’s musical content is considered together, it leaves no doubt as to the importance of said content to the album’s overall presentation.
The musical content featured in Universal is just on part of what makes the album engaging and entertaining. The lyrical themes that accompany that musical content are just as important to the overall presentation as the record’s musical arrangements. That is because they present their own diversity. ‘A King Has Gone,’ which is the album’s latest single, — for instance – is a tribute to legendary singer Ronnie James Dio. It does this through mentions within the song of his work with Heaven & Hell, Rainbow, and even Black Sabbath, as well as his own solo work, while also stating that “you gave us rock/You made us roll.” The song is a wonderful tribute to the life and legacy of a man who while short in stature, was a huge personality on record and on stage.
On a separate note, the bonus track, ‘Turn Off the World’ is a socially conscious statement. It is that familiar commentary on the state of the world. The role that politicians play in everything happening is there, as are the call to action and unity among the people. The song begs people to “Find the answers/Before it’s too late” along the way before Schenker uses his guitar to sound like an alarm going off, accenting that statement.
‘Long, Long Road’ is yet another example of the diversity in the record’s lyrical themes. The theme here is just as familiar as those in the other songs examined here, and in the record’s other tracks. The theme comes across as one of pushing on through life’s obstacles. It even reminds audiences that there will be a happy ending and that a broken heart will mend in no uncertain terms. The simple, straight forward way in which the theme is delivered is certain to engage and entertain audiences just as much as the message itself. When this theme and the others examined here are considered with the rest of the album’s themes, the whole makes clear why the album’s lyrical themes are just as important to its whole as its musical content.
As much as the album’s lyrical themes and musical arrangements do to make the record appealing, they are just part of what makes the album worth hearing. Its production rounds out its most important elements. The production is important because it plays directly into the album’s general effect. As noted, the arrangements featured in this record blend vintage rock and hair metal elements with just as much modern rock influence from one to the next. The ability of those leanings to all come through and balance as well as they do is due to the record’s production. What’s more, the ability of the musicians’ performances to each be displayed equally from one to the next shows even more, the time and work that went into balancing each performance. The end result of the painstaking efforts taken to balance all of the performances and at the same time balance the vintage and modern sounds and styles creates an aesthetic that is just as certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the record’s content. When that content is considered along with the album’s production, the whole therein makes Universal a record that will appeal to rock and metal fans across the musical universe.
Universal, the latest album from Michael Schenker Group, is a certified successful offering from the band. That is due in part through its musical arrangements. The arrangements are of note because of the way in which they balance vintage rock and metal influences with more modern leanings. From one song to the next, they give listeners the best of the past and present, making each song fully engaging and entertaining. At the same time, they each also boast identities separate from one another along the way. All of this together ensures the important role of the album’s arrangements. The lyrical content featured throughout the album are also of import because they are so accessible and unique from one another, too. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements. It ensures the record’s aesthetic is just as positive as its content. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the record. All things considered they make the album in general another successful new entry from Michael Schenker Group.
Universal is available now through Atomic Fire Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Michael Schenker Group’s latest news at: