Hard rock legends Scorpions have a new studio album out, Rock Believer.
I write a lot about the early days of my heavy music listening, but the hard rock avenue is one I have spoken less about. The three bands in this lane that meant the most to me back in the day where Judas Priest, Scorpions, and Thin Lizzy (they put out a couple of hard rock albums there in a row). Phil Lynott was lost first, and so Thin Lizzy. Judas Priest had a few rough years but they are still tearing up the stage today. Scorpions were more famous by far than the other two, and they had some killer albums I still listen to like Lovedrive (1979), Animal Magnetism (1980), and Blackout (1982). But really, it weas the earlier albums that made the biggest impression on me – Fly To The Rainbow (1974), In Trance (1975), Virgin Killer (1976), and especially Taken By Force (1977). I even have affection for the sometimes-maligned Lonesome Crow (1972). These first few albums were raw, drawn straight from the core of the musicians’ hard rock hive. The later albums are more polished and, as time went on, they became increasingly designed for a broader audience. To me, every album, all nineteen of them, sound like Scorpions music, and on that level I like them all.
After the mega-hits and mega-stardom, the world at large heard less and less about Scorpions music, but fans could tell you that the band continued to produce albums on a regular, but less frequent, cycle all the way through. It has been seven years since Return To Forever, so the universe is more than ready for Rock Believer.
The line-up is Rudolf Schenker (guitar, backing vocals), Klaus Meine (vocals), Matthias Jabs (guitar), Paweł Mąciwoda (bass), and Mikkey Dee (drums). Schenker and Meine, of course, go back to the earliest days, and Jabs has been there since the seventies. Mąciwoda seems almost like a newcomer, even though he has played with the band for nearly two decades. Legendary drummer Mikkey Dee joined a few years back after Lemmy’s passing saw the end of Motörhead. A formidable group of musicians if ever there was one.
As soon as the needle drops on “Gas In The Tank” you know you have stepped into Scorpions world. Layered guitars, catchy melodies, sharp leads, and the unmistakable voice of Klaus Meine, sounding fantastic. “Roots In My Boots” has the raw energy so much in evidence on the Blackout album, updated and refined, while “Knock ’em Dead” is a new creature altogether. There is a lot going on with the new album.
The singles released in advance of the album were the title track and “Peacemaker.” Fans have probably heard these already. The album overall leans a little more toward the “Peacemaker” kind of song with all its raucous energy. There are a few introspective, rock-ballad-type songs (and passages within songs) that serve to balance the music out – something that Scorpions have always been expert at achieving.
Nineteen is a lot of albums, but fans will always clamor for more. This one is a very good one. Recommended.
Rock Believer is out now through Spinefarm Records. You can get it everywhere. Check out the links below, and look for the deluxe edition with additional songs.
Scorpions website, https://www.the-scorpions.com/
Spinefarm Records, https://www.spinefarmrecords.com/usa/