Readers of this site know I sometime lament over those bands I failed to fully embrace over the years, instead relying on the radio hits for an acquaintance. Always late to the party and Scorpions probably top that list of neglect.
I thought my chances to see the German rockers ended in 2010 when they announced their final album and tour but they closed the book on that stinging tale shortly thereafter, then a few years later released another album and earlier this year dropped their 19th in Rock Believer.
As a general rule I try to get new album reviews out the day of or at least within a week. Like I said, always late… But I did initially try listening to Rock Believer and kind of sort of dismissed it until I got tickets for their show and really dialed in on the album.
Close call. Rock Believer has all the elements of a modern classic rock album that mostly shines from start to finish. A great blend of hard charging rock and slower melodic pieces that serve as finishing touches fill Rock Believer as the band has crafted a number of premium tracks that belong in the Scorpion’s Song Hall of Fame while others function a bit better than filler.
Rock Believer hits the gas with the opening song “Gas In the Tank” and the high-paced energy continues with “Roots In My Boots” the first of two quick-paced garage punk rock sounding songs, the other in “When I Lay My Bones to Rest” where guitarist Matthias Jabs lays down a ripper of a solo. “Peacemaker” is a fun out-of-the-box rock song but some of the best moments from this album come courtesy Klaus Meine’s deliberate soft vocal delivery on the title track, “Shining of Your Soul,” “Seventh Sun,” and the stellar album closer “When You Know (Where You Come From).”
(The Deluxe Version of Rock Believer includes an acoustic version of “When You Know (Where You Come From)” that is worth your time.)
Undoubtedly, Meine retains commanding vocals tinged with that German drawl that serves as an immediate ID for a Scorpions song. A superb peerless tone fully accentuated when not competing with his bandmate’s instruments. Meine has been singing for more than 50 years and the rest of Rock Believer shows no difference from his thirty-something self.
“Seventh Sun” reminds of Def Leppard’s great “Paper Sun” and likely an eventual gem off this album. The subtle reggae influence in “Shining of Your Soul” should also result in another Scorpions classic and “Call of the Wild” works into an awesome finish proving the timeless nature of 80s rock much thanks to Jabs’ fret work. Gritty guitar on “Knock ‘em Dead” prevents this one from being filler but “Hot and Cold” though not a bad song makes me want to listen to Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded.”
Today’s Scorpions consist of founder (in 1965!) and rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schemker, Meine, who took over on vocals in 1969, Jabs on lead guitar since 1978 along with newcomers Pawel Maciwoda on bass for 20 years and drummer Mikkey Dee joining in 2016. Schemker and Meine turn 75 next year. Jabs is in his mid-60s. I don’t have a musician’s brain thus I cannot appreciate the amount of thought, focus and determination required to make one song let alone an album but Rock Believer should encourage anyone of us to push away the old man and live to rock another day. Because…
None of the remnants from the classic Scorpions lineup seem ready to blow away with the wind of change.
Scorpions Rock Believer Songs:
- Gas In the Tank
- Roots In My Boots
- Knock ‘em Dead
- Rock Believer
- Shining of Your Soul
- Seventh Sun
- Hot and Cold
- When I Lay My Bones to Rest
- Call of the Wild
- When You Know (Where You Come From)