When re-energized by a short-lived UFO reunion and recording (Walk on Water), Michael Schenker did what he has almost always done since the '70s after any kind of success with a band...that is, he split. In the early days, he would join another group, but later, he took to assembling one of his own, under the confusingly multi-purpose moniker M.S.G. If M.S.G. started to get old, he would promptly fire everyone, go off somewhere remote (like his German homeland, or maybe Arizona), collect his thoughts and some new musicians, and effectively start over. The man loves a challenge. By the time Schenker collected yet another group of players and recorded Written in the Sand (originally released internationally on Zero, then reissued domestically in 1999), business opportunities were probably fewer than in his early-'80s heyday, and as with so many aging rockers, there were likely to be many considerations besides the same old "yearning for creative freedom" influencing the virtuoso's recording schedule. No matter what inspired them, Schenker and his Written in the Sand lineup of Leif Sundin on vocals, Shane Gaalaas on drums, and Barry Sparks on bass deliver some respectable metal reminiscent of the earliest (and best) Michael Schenker Group albums. Listeners who aren't thrilled specifically by righteous guitar-playing need not pay any attention to this or any other Schenker disc. But those who love a well-placed run, a timely trill, or sweat-drenched bend with overdone vibrato will get a real kick out of Written in the Sand, especially the harder, faster material, but even ballads like "I Believe" are progressive, mature, and just plain listenable -- a real accomplishment for the genre. Sure there's some mid-tempo and pseudo-boogie clunkers, but what can you expect from a collection so far removed from an artist's visionary zenith? Written in the Sand is at once a strong effort and a sad reminder that too many metal fans -- due to the guitarist's lack of professional continuity -- never had the opportunity to really appreciate Schenker's guitar abilities.
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson