Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

‘Immortal’ Reminds Listeners Why Michael Schenker’s Influence, Popularity Are Themselves Immortal

Michael Schenker’s latest Michael Schenker Group record Immortal officially entered the world music charts around Valentines Day weekend, and the numbers showed a lot of people loved the album at the time.  The 10-song record, which was officially released Jan. 29 through Nuclear Blast Records, reached #14 on the U.S. Rock chart, #3 on the nation’s Hard Rock chart and #43 on the Top Current Chart.  The band’s 11th album, it has proven just as successful, reaching #3 in Japan, and #8 in Germany, Sweden, and Switerland.  Its results in other parts of the world have put it in Top 25 spots and so forth.  The album’s largely successful first week numbers should be no surprise, considering that Schenker has a record of succeeding in everything he does.  This record is no exception to that rule.  That is evidenced in part through the album’s musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical arrangements builds on the foundation formed by that musical element.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production puts the final touch to its presentation.  It brings everything together, completing the album’s presentation.  When it is addressed along with the record’s content, the whole of the elements makes the album in whole a presentation that rock and hard rock purists alike will enjoy just as much as Schenker’s established fan base.

Michael Schenker Group’s latest album – its 11th – is another successful offering from the group, which is just one of Schenker’s many projects.  It is a presentation whose appeal is far reaching.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements that fill out each of the album’s 10 total songs, give audiences elements of the rock sounds of days gone by alongside today’s pure guitar rock work.  ‘Drilled to Kill,’ which opens the album, is a prime example of that balance.  There is a clear Motorhead influence aligned here with Schenker’s own hard rock/power metal influences.  The powerhouse, operatic vocals of Primal Fear front man Ralf Scheepers add even more to that classic metal sensibility.  On yet another level, the use of the keyboards here lends itself to comparisons to works from Derek Sherinian, adding even more of that modern rock (and even prog) feel.  Simply put, the whole of the arrangement blends the noted elements of rock and hard rock’s past and present for a whole that hits hard.  It makes for a strong start for the album and an equally strong example of how much the album’s musical arrangements have to offer audiences.

Another of the entries that highlights the importance album’s musical content to its overall presentation is ‘Sail The Darkness.’  Rainbow front man Ronnie Romero’s vocal delivery joins with the work of Schenker and company to take listeners back to the age of big riffs and even bigger hair.  The use of the keyboards and the rich sound of the drums conjures thoughts of vintage Van Halen and Iron Maiden.  While the noted influences are clearly there, the arrangement in whole still features its own identity.  The result is that it presents a sound that will appeal easily to the noted audiences just as much as the arrangement featured in ‘Drilled to Kill’ and any of the album’s other works.

As if ‘Drilled to Kill’ and ‘Sail the Darkness’ are not enough proof of the importance of the musical arrangements featured in Immortal, the arrangement featured in ‘In Search of The Peace of Mind’ takes listeners in yet another direction. The sound and stylistic approach taken in its opening bars are akin to works from the likes of Joe Satriani.  That approach soon gives way however, to more of a power ballad approach that itself then gives way to a sort of heavy, plodding Judas Priest style work.  The short and simple here is that what audiences get in this song is essentially a three-movement opus that lifts from influences within a wide range of eras.  The Judas Priest style work sounds like works that the band crafted way back in the 1970s while the Satriani-esque portion could have been just as easily from his 80s and  90s work as from his more modern works.  The other portion is clearly influenced from 80s greats, such as Dokken.  The whole of those influences makes the song in whole yet another interesting work that will reach a wide range of listeners.   When its appeal and variance in sound from that of the other works noted here and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the album’s musical  content leaves no doubt as to the importance of this record’s musical content. That overall content makes the album well worth hearing in itself.  It is just one aspect of what makes the album successful, too.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements makes the album even more engaging and entertaining.

The lyrical content that accompanies Immortal’s musical arrangements adds to the record’s appeal because it is just as accessible as the record’s musical content.  From beginning to end, the record’s lyrical content presents themes and topics that any listener will find familiar.  No less than three of the album’s songs are lyrical works about women.  The come in the form of ‘Devil’s Daughter,’ ‘The Queen of Thorns and Roses,’ and ‘After The Rain.’  Each focuses on a different matter therein.  ‘Devil’s Daughter’ is a simple work about a woman who just drives men wild with her feminine wiles.  ‘After The Rain’ seems to focus on a man lamenting woman who has left him.  ‘The Queen of Thorns and Roses’ meanwhile comes across as being about a woman who isn’t quite what she seems.  These themes are familiar for so many rock and hard rock songs.  On another note, a song, such as ‘Sail The Darkness’ comes across as being a work that lyrically, is about making one’s way through life’s more difficult moment.  This is also a familiar topic, and just as welcome here as in any other act’s songs.

On yet another note, ‘Drilled To Kill’ seems to broach the matter of how people are essentially institutionalized in so many ways.  From religion – the line notes, “Religion is the order/Stick right to the rules/Sail on sailor, anywhere/On this ship of fools/We are on a mission/Questions won’t be posed/Load your gun/We’re gettin’ there/Battlefield is close.” – to the very process of making young men ready for  battle  —  “Mute all emotions/Looking for the thrill/So close to overdosing/We’ve been drilled to kill/Who cares for the enemy?/Already on the hill/Say a prayer/A last will/’Cause we’ve been  drilled to kill/They say you are wanted/A wanted man/Come and sign the paper/Let me count you in/Well,  it looks like a holiday/But we protect the Earth/Sailing distant oceans/It’s all worth.” – the protest here certainly comes across clearly.  To that end, it is yet another accessible song and proves even more how that accessibility plays into the importance of the album’s overall lyrical content.  When it, the other noted lyrical themes here and the rest of the album’s lyrical themes are considered together, they leave no doubt as to the overall importance of the album’s lyrical content.  It is just as accessible as the album’s musical content.  Keeping that in mind, the content in whole does more than its share to make the album successful.  The overall content is just one way in which the   album shows its viability, too.  The production of that content brings everything together and completes the record’s picture.

The production that went into the creation of Immortal is critical to its presentation because of its impact on the presentation of the content.  Thanks to the solid production, no one aspect of the songs’ instrumentation overpowers the others.  At the same time, the vocals never get washed out.  This is especially important because washing out vocals can easily lead to either simple misinterpretation of lyrics or even a full inability to comprehend them without a lyrics sheet.  That applies in so many genres of the musical universe.  Sadly, so few acts take this into account when their records are produced.  On another level, there is a lot going on in each song.  Between the guitars, the vocals, the drums and other elements, the songs have quite a bit happening.  That means a lot of attention had to be paid to every aspect of each song.  Even in the softer, more reserved moments, the simplicity in those works had a lot to focus on in order to fully emotionally impact listeners.  The production succeeds even in those cases.  Simply put, the time and painstaking efforts that were clearly put into the album’s production paid off.  Those efforts made the album sound as good as it appears through its content.  It completes the musical picture painted here and makes the album a presentation that is fully deserving of its own spot on this year’s list of the best new hard rock and metal albums.

Michael Schenker Group’s new album Immortal is a presentation that succeeds just as much as Schenker’s most recent Michael Schenker Fest albums – Revelation and Resurrection.  This latest offering from Michael Schenker Group — its 11th – succeeds in part due to its musical arrangements.  The album’s arrangements will appeal to any rock and hard rock purist as well as any longtime fan of Michael Schenker.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content is just as accessible as the album’s musical arrangements.  The record’s production brings everything together and puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Immortal a record that reminds audiences of the immortality of Michael Schenker’s popularity and influence.  Immortal is available now.

More information on Immortal is available now along with all of Michael Schenker Fest’s latest news and more at:

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About Philip Sayblack