As regretful as it is to say, it might be time for Michael Schenker to hang it up because the songwriting well has run dry, now best exemplified by "Temple of Rock". It is a forgettable album that comes off soulless, best efforts notwithstanding.Yes, the soloing is fine and he's a great guitarist; we already know that and continue to sing his praises for his work in UFO, the SCORPIONS, and his own MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP. But that was then, this is now, and "Temple of Rock" is not an instrumental shred album. With a couple of very minor exceptions (e.g. "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" with vocalist Doogie White), "Temple of Rock" is filled with songs that never reach any higher than mediocre. Occasionally you'll hear a decent riff ("Fallen Angel") and/or mildly creative/interesting arrangement ("Miss Claustrophobia"), but mostly the songs sound tired, made worse by vocals from Michael Voss that are better suited for a BON JOVI or POISON album, as well as lyrics on songs like "Saturday Night" that are just embarrassing. "Temple of Rock" for Michael Schenker fans will be the type of album that folks will try to like and keep hoping it'll get better. After a William Shatner spoken "Intro" (not kidding) "How Long" at least serves as a tolerable, yet generic, opener. So you'll hold on and cross your fingers and arrive at a song like "The End of an Era", sure that you've seen light at the end of the tunnel before catching yourself debating whether the track would be best described as bland power metal or second rate hair metal. A short keyboard solo that would in any other circumstance be considered nothing more than solid ends up a breath of fresh air in an otherwise polluted environment. The ballad "Without You" fails and the closing 3 Generations of Guitar Battle Version of "How Long" is redemptive of nothing, even with fine performances from Leslie West and Michael Amott. That brings us to the other notable point about "Temple of Rock". It is packed with numerous all-star players, including main album-musicians Herman Rarebell and Pete Way. In addition to Amott and West, brother Rudolf Schenker lends his axe, while the keyboard cast includes Wayne Findlay (rounding out the proper album lineup), Don Airey, and Paul Raymond; the drummers Carmine Appice, Simon Phillips, Chris Slade, and Brian Tichy; bassists Chris Glen and Neil Murray; and vocalists Robin McAuley and the aforementioned Doogie White. In the way of tribute to a legendary guitarist, the guest list is impressive. Aside from a handful of notable performances though, the additional deck hands can't save a sinking ship. This one just isn't worth anyone's time or money. More like a molehill of rock, "Temple of Rock" is best forgotten, so as not to further tarnish what is for the most part a sterling body of work. At least the SCORPIONS left on a high note and UFO continues releasing quality albums. Here is to hoping the next MICHAEL SCHENKER album is one in which we can all be proud, the guitar god himself included.
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