Sound — 8
Michael Schenker has shaped the way we all look at and play the guitar. Throughout his expansive music career which spans across four decades, Schenker has created music with such groups as the Scorpions, McAuley Schenker Group, UFO, and his own Michael Schenker Group. No matter which band he was performing with his guitar playing was always one feature which could instantly grab your attention, and subsequently made such albums as "Lovedrive," "Phenomenon" and "M.S.G." renowned rock classics. His most recent years have shown Schenker trying his hand at different projects, such as collaborating with William Shatner on his 2011 solo album "Seeking Major Tom." Now Michael Schenker is pulling off an impressive feat with his new solo album "Bridge the Gap" (under the name of Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock), which shows the eccentric guitarist managing to combine the energetic playing style of his earlier years with a more modern metal direction. Joining Schenker on this album is former Rainbow lead vocalist Doogie White, who compliments this new album's darker overtones flawlessly. The album's opening track "Neptune Rising" is an impressive instrumental which could also serve as a great introductory number in Schenker's live performances. Such songs as "Bridges We Have Burned" and "To Live For the King" boast triumphant guitar work paired with a meanousing lead vocal performance, while "Shine On" shows Michael executing a guitar section which falls right in line with his years in McAuley Schenker Group. "Temple of the Holy" doesn't exactly sound like a Michael Schenker track, and in fact sounds more in line with something you would expect to hear from a lost Rainbow outtake. Schenker hits his stride on "Because You Lied," a fast paced pick grinder which is filled to the brim with colorful pinch harmonics and a complex, winding guitar solo. From start to finish, "Bridge the Gap" proves to be a standout effort from Michael Schenker and leaves very little to nit pick about.
Lyrics — 8
Lead vocalist Doogie White has an applaudable vocal range and sinister lyrical delivery, which bears some strong similarities to that of the late Ronnie James Dio. White's performance on "Bridge the Gap" at times acts as the star, and at other times steps back to allow Schenker's guitar work to be the focus of attention. During these latter periods, for example in such songs as the previously mentioned "Shine On" White will provide some melodic vocal harmonies which compliment Michael's bright guitar playing. There are plenty of singers with a captivating range and lyrical delivery, but occasionally we have an album where the vocalist and guitarist almost clash within the mix, almost as though they are trying to "outdo" one another. Thankfully this isn't the case with "Bridge the Gap," and it's Doogie White's willingness to step away at the appropriate moments which makes him one of this album's better qualities.
Overall Impression — 8
Michael Schenker makes a strong comeback with his new studio album "Bridge the Gap." Schenker's guitar playing is solid and skills similarly in top form, while lead vocalist Doogie White is an excellent match for Michael's playing style. In the end we're left with a standout album which any fan of Michael's earlier efforts will be able to appreciate, as well any rock or heavy metal follower.