On May 27, 2022 Guitar legend Michael Schenker released "Universal".
It is another excellent studio album that is a direct continuation of his great releases in recent years with the albums "Resurrection" (2018) and "Revelation" (2019), released under" Michael Schenker Fest", and "Immortal" from 2021 released under the classic lineup of "Michael Schenker Group".
The band that accompanies Michael Schenker this time is: Ronnie Romero (vocals), Bodo Schopf ("Eloy") (drums), Barend Courbois ("Blind Guardian", Zakk Wylde) (bass), and Steve Mann (keyboards and guitar). In addition, the album hosts many good artists such as: Michael Kiske ("Helloween") and Ralf Scheepers ("Primal Fear"), drummers Simon Phillips (Gary Moore, "Toto", "The Who"), Brian Tichy ("Whitesnake", "Foreigner"), Bobby Rondinelli ("Rainbow"), As well as legendary bassists Bob Daisley ("Black Sabbath"), Barry Sparks (Yngwie Malmsteen, "Dokken"), as well as keyboardist Tony Carey ("Rainbow").
Anyone who has loved Michael Schenker's recent albums will love this album as well. The Schenker's sound can already be recognized in the opening song "Emergency" the rooted metal with melodic structure and classic solo, the retro sound of "Under Attack" that takes us straight back to the mid-eighties, is Michael Schenker's bread and butter.
But then, in the third and fourth tracks comes the big surprise of this album. One of the most beautiful tributes we have heard to Ronnie James Dio and one of Schenker's greatest songs in recent years. The song "A King Has Gone" and its intro "Calling Baal" are both tributes to Dio and especially to the album "Rainbow Rising" whose name is repeated in the lyrics of the song. Anyone who has read our review of the album "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll", knows that the title of the intro section "Calling Baal" is not accidental either. Remember, Ronnie James Dio said that during the recording of the album the band members performed séance ceremonies, while on one of them they met the spirit of the demon "Baal" who promised to hurt them. The back cover of the album also included the phrase: "No thanks to Baal".
So tribute to legendary singer Ronnie James Dio will be perfect, Michael Schenker enlisted former members of "Rainbow" Bobby Rondinelli, Bob Daisley, and Tony Carey, who also performs the synth-Moog intro section "Calling Baal", which corresponds with the opening track of that immortal album "Tarot Woman". In addition, Schenker is assisted by singer Michael Kiske. By the way, this is not the only song that will remind you of "Rainbow" on this album. Listen to the "Sad is the Song" and you will find sounds and style that will remind you of "Rainbow", especially in the guitar work and "oriental" touches.
But make no mistake, these are definitely not the only good songs on the album. There's the ballad "Long Long Road" in which Gary Barden and Ronnie Romero share vocals, there's the rhythmic and sweeping section "Wrecking Ball" with Ralph Scheepers' vocals, the "Yesterday is Dead" coaxed with Brian Tichy and Barry Sparks, "London Calling" (not that of "Clash") whose lyrics pay homage to the British rock bands from the 80's that brought hard rock into the mainstream, "Au Revoir" in which Schenker showcases his amazing abilities and more ...
The album includes two bonus tracks, including the amazing "Turn Off the World" !!!