After a month of having this beast in my CD player, AND having seen them live recently, it’s time to share my thoughts on the new MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK album Spirit On a Mission. And let me tell you, this thing is like a runaway train hurtling toward the unknown at breakneck speeds. Y’all know how much I loved 2014’s Bridge the Gap. Well this one is a fitting companion piece and an excellent follow-up. Boasting the same line-up as last time with Doogie White on vocals, Wayne Findlay (keyboards and 7-string guitar), and former SCORPIONS members Herman Rarebell (drums) and Francis Buchholz (bass), Schenker has clearly struck gold for the second time in two years. The songwriting is once again strong, the guitar licks are silky smooth, and the solos strike like a cobra.
Opener “Live and Let Live” and “Communion” open things up in hard, fast, and bluesy fashion, the sonic equivalent of popping the cap on a bottle of Moet and saying, “We’re here, bitches!! Let’s go!!” Third track (and Mini-Amps favorite) “Vigilante Man” is one that begs for repeat listens, the whole band locked into such a groove that you simply don’t want it to end. Hearing it live a few weeks ago made it even better for me, and it’s such a killer driving song, too. Speaking of which, much like several numbers from the last record “Rock City” WILL get you speeding tickets from Hell to Breakfast if you listen to it in the car…FACT. “Saviour Machine” has more of a slow, stalkerish pace, and the ongoing riff is just sinful.
Ready to floor it again, are we? Then crank “Something In the Night” and listen to Doogie soar! “All Our Yesterdays” has a seductive mid-tempo rhythm that will pull you in and wrap its coils around you so fast your head will spin, believe me. The solo is one of the album’s best as well; short but effective. The first time I heard “Bulletproof” I knew it would be a favorite. Everything about it SCREAMS metal!! The riffs are Ragu chunky-style, and again Doogie is on fire singing the hooks. “Let the Devil Scream” is the type of song BLACK SABBATH should have written because it totally sounds like something in that 70’s kickass rock wheelhouse.
The thing I really loved about “Good Times” is that it truly invokes that longing for yesterday, that “Where did the time go?” feel. Musically and lyrically it completely captures a yearning for bygone days, something I am guilty of daily, even hourly. “Restless Heart” once again takes off at a sprint leaving us breathless before closer “Wicked” does exactly what the title says. It casts an evil spell over you and before you know it you’re a slave to the rock. It’s such a great track with a YUUUUUUUGE chorus that I can’t believe they’ve been sitting on it till the end, huh? Overall Spirit On a Mission is an absolute home run from start to finish, a contender for my AOTY, and dare I say it’s even better than the debut? I think I just did!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM