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MSG / THE UNFORGIVEN
LABEL: SHRAPNEL (USA) / ZERO (JAPAN)
OVERALL: 79%
Produced by: Mike Varney
  1. Rude Awakening
  2. The Mess I've Made
  3. In And Out Of Time
  4. Forever And More
  5. Fat City
  6. Tower
  7. Pilot Of Your Soul
  8. Hello Angel
  9. Turning Off The Emotion
  10. Illusion
  11. Live For Today
  12. The Storm
I am still a little undecided about this album.
I like MSG and I have most of the bands' recent product and have enjoy them, but haven't found anything to be essential since Robin McCauley left.
Something about the combination of the two I really liked. Maybe it was the blatant commerciality of it! But it was good. Perfect Timing was huge, Save Yourself great and the Unplugged album is still one of my favourite unplugged recordings of all time.
Contraband was a bloody good record. That was probably more because of Richard Black though.
The UFO album was also brilliant. Loved that and played it heaps.
But the recent works of one Michael Schenker have left me a little cold. I thought Written In The Sand was pretty weak. Not sure if it was the production or the vocals that I thought were too thin. After the likes of Save Yourself and Walk On Water, it didn't stack up.
So here we are with the new album and another new singer. But this time we have the very cool Kelly Keeling (Blue Murder, John Norum, Baton Rouge) on vocals.
Now I like Kelly a lot, he has sung some great tunes over the past 2 years with John Norum and Baton Rouge. Initially this album sounds too relaxed, but on repeated listens it does grow considerably. Keeling certainly gives it his all.
The production on The Unforgiven is certainly a lot better than on Written In The Sand. It has more life to it and is beefed up somewhat with heavier bass and rawer vocals.
It's just that the album doesn't really warm up until it is half over.
That's probably where I am a little disappointed. While an improvement for sure - I was hoping for something a little heavier or more traditional hard rock. It carries the same vibe as the last album and manages to over pass it, but it still could be heavier I think.
Rude Awakening opens the album and straight up the style is obvious Schenker, progressing basically from what was the sound on Written In The Sand. The song is beefy enough but has little urgency to it. Keeling's vocals are raw and welcome, but he also doesn't have to stretch any to do the job.
The Mess I've Made is better. A little more rocking and full of guitars and organs beneath the obvious bass/drum/vocal pattern.
In And Out Of Time is a moody mid paced rocker. Nice guitar and some fairly laid back vocals from Kelly. The track moves from hard to soft and in and out. Kinda like the title I guess!
Forever And More is the first ballad and has a Never Ending Nightmare kind of intro and feel. Keeling lends from his last Baton Rouge album for the vocals. Laid back chorus, but good song.
Fat City speeds things up from the fairly restrained first 3 tracks. This is classic MSG and rolls along at a good pace with Keeling doing his best Gillan vocals. Extended solo and good style.
Tower has the same intro as about 4 other tracks so far. A click of a drum stick and a guitar riff intro. This time it's another moody piece, with Keeling singing low and heavy. Quite heavy guitars also, but slow and without sounding like Napalm Death.
Pilot Of Your Soul uses that intro again but is a very good uptempo rocker. This and the next track are finally livening things up! A cool anthem chorus.
Hello Angel is melodic anthem rocker that rocks harder than anything else on the record. This is how the whole record should be. Both guys going off a little! Best rock track and quite original.
Turning Off The Emotion is proving that the second half of the record is better than the first. Another fairly lively pop rocker and another good track.
Illusion has that intro again!! A slightly faster track that is needed as things were getting a little same-ish. A mid paced rocker.
Live For Today is a cool moody track with multi layered drums and some softly sung, but dark vocals. The verse has 2 parts with one faster than the other. The chorus doesn't stand out too much though.
The Storm is a real moody electric ballad with Keeling now in David Coverdale form and Schenker very quietly playing behind him. Nice moody sorrowful ballad.
And then it is all over. The album gets off to a medium start, really warms up through the middle and then ends with a couple of softer tracks.
Schenker obviously shows his age here with the tempo of the tracks, but that does not deter from the fact he still plays his ass off over some of the tracks.
For me the tracks are a little long and a little too similar in their delivery and tempo. If there were more tracks like Pilot Of Your Soul and Hello Angel, this would have been a killer. As it is it is more a heavy mugging.
Buy it if you want a beating, but if you want your head kicked in, go for either Baton Rouge's self titled album of 1997 or go for Save Yourself or Perfect Timing from MSG.
Seriously though, I think most MSG fans will come away pretty happy with this.
PRODUCTION: 82%SONGS: 79%VIBE: 75%ATTITUDE: 76%
ESSENTIAL FOR: Michael Schenker and Kelly Kealing fans.



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