Built with breathtaking precision, Scorpions are a relentless rock machine. Here we are, five decades after their 1972 debut Lonesome Crow and a career that has seen them go from playing tiny clubs all over Europe to selling out stadiums, celebrating an album that is arguably their finest since the incendiary Blackout.
Scorpions – Rock Believer (Spinefarm Records)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Having weathered the storms and passing trends, a global pandemic was only going to slow them down a little in a brief respite from a touring and recording schedule that has been nothing short of ferocious. Rock Believer is the sound of a band unleashing a caged tiger; hungry, claws sharp and roaring as it tastes long-awaited freedom and is out to prove its sovereignty.
The first album to feature Mikkey Dee on drums, the former Motörhead and King Diamond skinsman perfectly locks into the groove with bass player Paweł Maciwoda, the pair providing the engine room driving the beast. This rock-solid rhythm section gives free rein for both Matthias Jabs and Rudolph Schenker to swoop and soar with coruscating riffs that flash from the speakers whilst the ageless strength and soul of Klaus Meine’s vocals provide the titans with a suitably god-like voice.
They may have been around for a long time, but they’ve never sounded fresher, the self-belief in both their skills and this new material a tangible thing. Everything is poured into this album.
As much a statement of intent as a collection of new songs, Rock Believer is an unbelievably strong release that never disappoints. This is not a band resting on their well-earned laurels but one that shows the class and penmanship that has seen them write some of the most exciting rock anthems of the past fifty years.
Similar to the release of Iron Maiden’s Senjutso last year, a new Scorpions album is an event for all lovers of quality hard rock and the lyrically ‘anthemic’ theme runs throughout, a blast against the naysayers.
Gas In The Tank kicks things off as they mean to carry on, a foot to the floor blast that leaves a shower of sparks and clouds of dust in its wake, the guitar work of Jabs absolutely searing. The stentorian, chopping riff of Roots In My Boots is an adrenaline rush, Meine’s declaration “It’s simply in my blood” never truer for the band.
The muscular title track is possibly the most anthemic thing Scorpions have written since Wind Of Change, encapsulating the zeitgeist in a time when music has been one of the most powerful forces for good and unity throughout the current global catastrophe.
Scorpions aren’t a band afraid to take some chances either, eschewing the need to play it safe, and the gentle reggae feel under mid-paced but powerful rock ballad Shining Of Your Soul dovetails perfectly into its heightened emotions.
Seventh Sun mirrors the feel and start of Van Halen’s Running With The Devil before the big and ballsy melody kicks in and the run of fast-paced rockers Hot And Cold, When I Lay My Bones To Rest, and single Peacemaker show that age will not wither Scorpions, their intent to rock as hard as possible not letting up one bit.
After the thunder and mayhem of some ferocious solos by Jabs, Call Of The Wild brings in some very interesting touches into both the guitarwork and the overall structure, mixing some Beatlesque sounds into the warp and weft of the track.
The album closes with the huge and classy ballad When You Know (Where You Come From), the sort of titanic work that Scorpions have made their own and follows in the footsteps of so many greats before it.
An expanded version includes another four heavy hitters, including the swaggering blues of Crossing Borders, plus an acoustic version of When You Know… that is tastefully stripped back but still retains the power.
Even though the band aren’t interested in anniversaries, this new release marking their five decades together couldn’t be a bigger or greater testament to the power of the Scorpions and the quality that has seen them stand astride the big leagues like a colossus.
A genuine cause for celebration, Rock Believer is destined to be considered as one of the finest hard rock albums released this year and should be lauded by both the faithful and new converts. I’m a believer.