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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.


24/01/01: Rockystar - rockystar@hastajuego.com
Rating: 90
un disco que me sorprendio gratamente por el trabajo realizado por michael schencker y kelly keeling

22/09/00: brian burgess - brianburgess1@yahoo.com
Rating: 77
The Mad Axeman can still kick it on certain songs but once again his overall talent is wasted on this CD. Why can't Michael just let go and let his fingers do the talking like he did on Walk On Water with UFO? Rude Awakening and The Mess I've Made are good tunes but the rest of the song cycle is very inconsistent and either hit or miss. Michael, please return to your exceptional talent of playing the best damn hard, melodic rock around...I'd hate to think that Walk On Water with UFO was your last truly classic effort...

05/02/00: GABRIEL - FLOSTER1@MSN.COM
Rating: 5
Being a huge fan of Michael, I was so disappointed. I listened to it a few times because I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. It still doesn't move me like the older MSG stuff. Bring back McAuley and get the sound back again.
I just can't believe this cd sucked so bad.

05/01/00: Sven - sugarqueen@hotmail.com
Rating: 80
I've never been a huge Schenker fan, I like some MSG/UFO tracks left and right but just never the whole thing. This is pretty different. I wonder if anyone here's ever heard John Norum's last solo albums ... this sounds much like it, and not only because of Kelly Keeling's voice. I admit, this (and the J.Norum albums) strays away from 'happy melodic rock stuff', it's somehow more mature and takes some time to get into. It's generally not very cheerful, sounds rather dark but man does this contain some mighty fine melodies. I heard that this album was different from what Michael's done before, but still I didn't quite feel like buying it. I managed to get it through trading, and I'm glad I did. If you like this then do check out John Norum's 'Destination Anywhere' and 'Worlds Away' cd's...

26/08/99: Matt - m_doeden@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
Love it! Keeling is incredible. Hello Angel is as good a song as I've heard in some time. Tower kicks, so does The Storm. A few of the early tracks sound a little alike, which is the only knock I can come up with. A lot of people say they returned this CD after one or two listens, but that's a huge mistake -- it gets better every time I listen to it. I really hope Schenker and Keeling stay together. Yeah, it may be a different sound, but I think it rocks. This CD alone is getting me back into melodic rock after I'd kind of gotten away from it awle

23/05/99: chris a schilling - caschilling64@yahoo.com
Rating: 30
Michael needs to take a good look at where his music is going. i was highly disapointed in this cd. i hated it so much i returned it the same dasy the same day for i bought it

21/05/99: Kurt Kozyra - kazooba@mciworld.com
Rating: 50
Kelly Keeling has got to go! The lyrics, melodies smack of a throw me together quick job. now maybe if schenker could get a strong writing and vocalist partner, aka Phil Mogg, and stick with a stable lineup, succes would come his way. Plus Mike Varney can't produce his way out of a paper bag. Stick with Ron Nevison. Schenker needs someone to guide him with whats good and whats rubbish, plus a steady band. Kelly Keeling is just a journeyman, perhaps on his upcoming euro tour he could jam with the voice, Glenn Hughes, That would be a dream.

09/05/99: Oscar - cintronf@coqui.net
Rating: 90
I'm a huge fan of Michael, my favorite era is the McAuley Schenker Group. When I listen The Unforgiven for the first time I said "what's this" that's was is too rare but not dissapointed. I think the production is great but the sound is dark. The songs are very different of the another work's but are very goods, my favorites are: THE STORM- a great killer ballad with a majesty solo. ILLUSION- have a great combination of verse and chorus, very rockin. LIVE FOR TODAY- a great progressive rock song. In my opinion I recomended for the MSG fans, and anyway we have to support people like Mike for share with us his talent and devotion to the rock mus.

16/04/99: Darrell - DPFinley70@aol.com
Rating: 98
I thought Mike could do no better after Mcauley,and,I'll admit the first couple of times I listen to it I really didn't care for it much.But after really listening to it,it is some of Schenkers best material.It good solid old heavy metal.About time

14/04/99: David B. - barod@pegasystems.com
Rating: 0
I'm a long time Schenker fan, so I bought this CD, but I listened to it
twice and returned it for a refund. I found the songs horrible. There wasn't a
catchy tune to be found anywhere on this CD. No groove. Just a bunch of riffs
that were scotch taped together. Very disappointed.
Keeling's an excellent singer and Schenker's a god--I thought the
two mixed like oil and water. Keeling is bluesy, and Schenker
just isn't. As good as they are separately, they don't mix well,
as performers and ESPECIALLY as songwriters. I'm sure
plenty of folks will disagree wh

02/04/99: Jos Siemers - siemers@cd-online.nl
Rating: 95
For once I don't agree with Andrew. I must admit I am an Michael Schenker fan, I've got all his albums. But I think I still can be objective. For me Michael Schenker was/is at his best in UFO. The combination with Phill Mogg is unique. I must admit I have never been a great MSG fan. The main problem in my opinion has always been the singer,with the only exception of Graham Bonnett,and the production. The McAuley Schenker albums weren't that bad especially the MSG album (great production), but Robin McAuley sounded too poppy. In my opinion the new album is the exception to the rule. The production is great, the vocals are great, Michael plays at his best. Highlights are "Hello Angel" and "Forever and more". Ballads have always been my favourites. For once I don't miss his UFO pals. To me this is the first mature MSG aum


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