Review SCORPIONS ‘Rock Believer’

The artwork of Scorpions longplayers often created some attention and sometimes even led to controversial discussions. What is remarkable with their new album ‘Rock Believer’ is the screaming person on the cover, reminding of the iconic artwork of the ‘Blackout’ album from 1982. The good thing is, that it isn’t only the artwork that reminds of the glorious days of the Hannover-based metal band.
After having released the milestone album, Scorpions remain being commercially successful and even increased their popularity. At the same time the music entered more and more the mainstream. The rock roots moved into the background and it’s not just a coincidence that the biggest hit of the band is a ballad with bells and literally whistles.

40 years after having let ‘Blackout’ off the leash, the quintet returns with ‘Rock Believer’ as strong as the title of the album indicates. One might wonder where this extra energy boost comes from, a push that directed the band back to the more fundamental roots of rock’n’roll.

One of the reasons could be the fact of having with Mikkey Dee a drummer on board that inhales rock and metal with every breath he takes. Dee, having been the Motörhead drummer for many years, is a beast behind the drumkit. With him providing a powerful heartbeat the band had the chance to create a rock and metal feast. Scorpions could prove that they are firm rock believers and they made use of this opportunity.

What also added to the strength of the record is the fact of the quintet recording in their hometown Hannover. While the studio in L.A. was already booked, travel restriction forced the band to change plans and record in Germany. They worked on the album as a band, had time discuss music and focus on the essence, the songs for the new album. This situation helped to revitalize the ‘80s spirit that breaks through many times while spinning ‘Rock Believer’.

It is significant that ‘Peacekeeper’ has been released as a single in November 2021. The song is with less than three minutes the shortest one on the album. Boiled down to the essence, ‘Peacemaker’ was a first sign of the new record becoming the best Scorpions album in years, maybe even in decays. The expectations, driven by ‘Peacemaker’, will be confirmed by the album.

It feels like the band has some gas in their tank and therefor the opener can also be seen as a bold statement. ‘Gas in the Tank’ is a straight rocker that provides an excellent start into the new album. Hardness and melodies are well-balanced and the following ‘Roots in My Boots’ takes a similar direction. The latter is a dynamic rocker that reminds of the sound of the early ‘80s.

A strong Mikkey Dee drumbeat starts off ‘Knock ’em Dead’ with the title track being next in line. ‘Rock Believer’ is a rhythm-driven song with a lot of ‘80s references, especially when it’s about the starting riff. It’s a good song on the album, but there are better tracks too. One of those is the gloomy ‘Seventh Sun’. ‘The Zoo’ and ‘China White’ are songs that come to my mind while listening to ‘Seventh Sun’.

The upbeat ‘Shoot for Your Head’ ignites a rock firework and ‘Unleash the Beast’ is another interesting song on the album too. The chorus is more of an average kind while the verse with Meine’s partly spoken vocals is something that works extremely well. The thundering ‘When I Lay My Bones to Rest’ brings the essence of rock’n’roll to the plate while the obligatory ballad is entitled ‘When You Know’. The softest part of ‘Rock Believer’ fits into the context of Scorpions ballads but is less cliché-loaded than some of the early emotional excurses.

‘Rock Believer’ is the best Scorpions album in years. The German metal pioneers go back their roots when it comes to the sound of the album and at the same time unveil a freshness and dynamic that positively surprises. Everybody that lost the passion for Scorpions music after the release of ‘Love at First Sting’ should give this album a chance. It is worth it.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Gas in the tank
  2. Roots in my boots
  3. Knock ’em dead
  4. Rock believer
  5. Shining of your soul
  6. Seventh Sun
  7. Hot and cold
  8. When I lay my bones to rest
  9. Peacemaker
  10. Call of the wild
  11. When you know
  12. Shoot for your heart (Bonus Track)
  13. When tomorrow comes (Bonus Track)
  14. Unleash the beast (Bonus Track)
  15. Crossing borders (Bonus Track)
  16. When You Know (Acoustic) (Bonus Track)

Label: Vertigo Berlin (Universal Music)

Genre: Heavy Metal

Release Date EU: February 25th, 2022

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