Michael Schenker is back, with his signature guitar wizardry generously spread across another studio release, ‘Bridge the Gap.’ With over four decades of experience within the rock music scene, I’m sure there will be some of you asking, “What exactly is Michael Schenker trying to bridge?”
Schenker’s influence on the music scene is unignorable. Throughout his expansive career he has spent some time behind such bands as UFO, The Scorpions, and McAuley Schenker Group, with his classically-flavored playing style always making sure to capture the listener’s attention.
What Michael Schenker is attempting to do with his new album is to merge the energetic playing style of his earlier years with the more modern, heavier approach to the guitar, which has made its way onto Schenker’s recent efforts. And it’s safe to say that he not only accomplishes this feat, but also creates some standout music in the process.
Filling in the rest of the lineup are Michael Schenker’s Scorpions band mates Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell, alongside former Rainbow lead singer Doogie White and Wayne Findlay on keyboards. For this album Schenker has compiled a formidable backing band which provides a solid backbone for each song, while never taking the attention away from Michael’s guitar playing. ‘Bridge the Gap’ is comprised of thirteen new striking tracks which are filled with memorable guitar licks and consistently commendable vocal performances.
Those of us who were fans of Schenker back in his earlier years are hypnotically welcomed with the album opener “Neptune Rising,” an albeit brief yet triumphant instrumental which allows Michael to show off. Following a handful of elaborate lead licks we transition effortlessly into “Where the Wild Winds Blow,” a moderate riff rocker which boasts occasional cascades of soothing acoustic guitar.
Michael hits the overdrive button as we move into “Horizons,” a fast paced song which shows Doogie White falling comfortably into a snarling singing style which could be compared to that of the late Ronnie James Dio. “Horizons” sets the pace for the next two cuts, “Lord of the Lost and Lonely” and “Rock N Roll Symphony,” both of which are decorated with plenty of wild guitar licks which continue to propel the album forward.
“To Live For the King” falls right in line with something one would expect to hear from a ‘Strangers in Us All’ outtake, with White’s vocal delivery and Michael’s gloomy guitar work teaming together to create a memorable chorus. Michael Schenker returns to a pick grinding pace for “Land of Thunder,” while falling back into the same mindset as he was on McAuley Schenker Group’s third studio album. The same can be said for the soaring guitar playing glamorously boasted on “Shine On,” which also includes some applaudable synthesizer work.
Michael transitions between a clear guitar tone and crunching distortion on “Bridges We Have Burned,” another standout track which makes the use of some excellent dark vocal melodies. “Black Moon Rising” is a rhythm guitar-driven anthem, but what makes this song so appealing is Doogie White’s commanding vocal performance which strongly complements Schenker’s dark overtones. The album is concluded with “Dance For the Piper,” which features another impressive solo from Michael.
‘Bridge the Gap’ is a solid new effort from Michael Schenker, which shows the acclaimed guitarist achieving a strong combination of his previous efforts and a more modern direction. Michael pulls off this stylistic merger so well that the outcome is downright standout, and hopefully this album is just a sign of what we can expect from Schenker in the future.