Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Michael Schenker Group ~ Assault Attack

(Click on heading to visit Michael Schenker's official website.)
Style: hard rock, power metal
Label: Chrysalis
Year: 1982
Home: n/a

Members: Michael Schenker ~ guitars

Graham Bonnet ~ vocals
Chris Glen ~ bass
Ted McKenna ~ drums


Additional: Tommy Eyre ~ keyboards

It had only been a few years since vocalist Graham Bonnet had been unceremoniously dismissed from Rainbow, where he made a name for himself as the replacement of Ronnie James Dio, when he briefly joined MSG. It was the perfect next step for both Bonnet & guitarist Schenker, who'd also not been long out of his own legacy making UFO & the Scorpions. In many ways it continues the nearly over-the-top & highly technical Richie Blackmore-esque wild guitar sound that Bonnet found in Rainbow & perfectly suits his vocal approach. The key with tenor Bonnet is he invests each song with its own personality letting the music possess him like a demon, much in the vein of other distinctive vocalists Alice Cooper & Jizzy Pearl of L.A. Guns, ranging from crooning to shouting with his familiar enunciation, unlike many musicians who seem to treat all songs the same & try to be the dominating instrument singing over the music not with it. Regretfully, Bonnet's legacy has been largely under-appreciated by anyone outside of the metal world ... the same for Schenker. Schenker is a wonderful musical foil for Bonnet, though Bonnet has repeatedly shown great taste in who he's worked as his later albums with Alcatrazz featuring the still largely unknown Steve Vai & Yngwie Malmsteen demonstrated. One of the problems with working with such an array of super talented & highly technical guitarists is that they often take the air itself for a ride ... basically, where ever there is empty air there's a tendency to want to fill it with unneeded flights of fancy. Schenker understands that sometimes it's good just to lay back, relax & take a breath once in a while, which also affects the other musicians in the band who respond accordingly. The result is that Assault Attack has some incredibly hard rock moments ("Assault Attack") while also some of the most relaxed moments in both men's careers, such as "Rock You To The Ground" that sounds so relaxed it's almost orgasmic while the slow groove of "Broken Promises" shows that rock doesn't have to be fast to be rocking. There is some more commercial sounding songs (i.e. "Dancer", "Samurai") that belay the era in which the album was made & now sound a bit dated, "Desert Song" would have been helped if given a more exotic/ethnic sound while the album ends with the unnecessary coda in the instrumental "Ulcer" considering Schenker has already showed off plenty & with more creativity previously. But, if you've only heard their names but not their music Assault Attack is a great starting place for two incredibly diverse but interesting careers & talents that for a moment in the early 80's lit off fireworks.



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