Michael Schenker, a man who needs no introduction to us metalheads, has given us a treat in the form of his new album Bridge The Gap, under the moniker of Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock. That’s actually a perfect name for this project, as it boasts a line-up of heavies who have played in The Scorpions, UFO, and Rainbow. Vocalist Doogie White, Wayne Findlay (keyboards and 7-string guitar), and the rhythm section of Herman Rarebell (drums) and Francis Buchholz (bass) deliver an album that is solid all across the board with nary a stinker in the bunch.
After the brief intro of “Neptune Rising”, “Where the Wild Winds Blow” marches into battle like a heavy metal Panzer tank battalion looking to crush everything in its path. This is one of many songs that have a modern metal sound without resorting to noise, as well as a classic flair without being a cheesy nostalgia act. Schenker doesn’t overplay here, or anywhere else for that matter and he and Findlay make a formidable guitar duo. But when he solos, man…LOOK OUT!! This is most evident on my favorite track “Lord of the Lost and Lonely” where he just friggin’ goes to town on, not only on the solo, but the riff and driving tempo might have you weaving in and out of traffic going way too fast!
“Horizons” is just a pure, fast, balls-out number that I also deem dangerous while driving. White’s voice is perfect for these kinds of songs, and both his vocal delivery and the arrangements are very DIO-esque, which is a wonderful thing, because I miss Ronnie terribly. This is especially noticeable on “To Live For the King” and the first time I heard it I was just grinning ear-to-ear because I could feel Ronnie’s spirit in the music. Some of you may call me crazy, but I don’t care. It’s what I feel. “Rock and Roll Symphony” is another standout with a driving rhythm that has Buchholz’s big bass tone pounding up your wazoo, and “Land of Thunder” harnesses a fury (especially from Rarebell) that bands twenty years younger strive for, and only wish they could get, little bastards. All the solos are great, but this one is truly outstanding!
“Temple of the Holy” ushers in a change of pace for a bit, also heard in “Shine On” and “Bridges We Have Burned”, both of which definitely have a touch of DIO-era Black Sabbath in them. Again, how could this be a bad thing?? White’s singing is top-notch on “Bridges” as well. Then, all of a sudden, as if from nowhere, this jackhammer of a song called “Because You Lied” comes on that I had to repeat several times. The megaphone vocal effect is an interesting choice and really enhances the singing. The thickest, meatiest riffs are found on “Black Moon Rising”, a dark, ominous hunter stalking its musical prey, and closer “Dance For the Piper” is a swirling mix of guitar and vocal melodies over a tribal drum beat, leading us home.
I figured this would be a good record. After all, it’s Michael Schenker. I had no idea it would be a thousand times better than good; it rocks…HARD! And if not for its January 7, 2014 release date, it would have made my Top 25 of 2013, easily. But, rules are rules. Either way, I recommend this album highly, guys.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Lord of the Lost and Lonely”, “Rock and Roll Symphony”, “Land of Thunder”, “Horizons”, “Bridges We Have Burned”, “Dance For the Piper”