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Casually flipping through your local classic rock stations, you are more than likely to hear one of three songs, maybe even multiple times. One obviously being Stairway to Heaven. Another being Sweet Emotions. The last will most likely be Rock You Like A Hurricane. Sadly, as is the case with most bands who become massively big for just one hit song, Germany's Scorpions suffered the same double sworded fate. Most folks will not know that they have a blasting heavy metal catalogue, and ironically just one album prior to the breakthrough. In majority, Scorpions' are mostly know for their obvious anthemic hit, and their ballad "Wind Of Change". But, just one short look into their previous works, you will get two things. Heavy, hard and aggressive rock/metal. and quite possibly some of the most controversial album covers ever. Luckily, on "Blackout", Scorpions hit a stride. Matching the idyllic harshness of AC/DC and Judas Priest with the capturing melodies of pop rock of the time. The album just rolls along. All the songs have a similar feel, yet none sound the same. If it were as most would have it, Scorpions would be known for their major hits "Can't Live Without You", or to some extent " No One Like You", which is already a big song. The point, you ask? This album rocks, period, and slays on every tier.
If you don't like classic rock infused heavy metal, you will not like this album. Not whatsoever. Scorpions may have been a lesser known contender for heavy metal kings in the 80's, but in so many ways this idea is criminal. Is it too much to say "Blackout" stands in competition with "Screaming for Vengeance", or even "Number of the Beast". In all honesty, some parts of this sound much heavier than anything Priest, Maiden, Saxon, or even Ozzy were doing at the time. Furthermore, "Blackout" is the pioneer work to a decade full of copycats and lameness. Released in 1982, the glam metal scene was just getting off the ground, with Motley Crue's debut still only one year old. Heavy metal was still taboo at the time, in the States at least. To hear a song as violently aggressive as "Now", or as pissed off as "Blackout", must have been some trip for the music world. You get it all on this album. Klaus' voice is really stellar here. The balding doppleganger to Dio has never gotten the credit he deserves for his vicious strong singing, and his soft, melodic singing as well. Take a song like "Dynamite". The pace is proto-thrash, seeing as thrash was still in it's demo phase at this time. Klaus' vocals are incorporating three styles. Singing, rapid fire delivery a la Rob Halford, and full on falsetto ear splitting. Eclectic as it is, "Blackout" as an album is seriously heavy, and seriously full of balls, yet just kind enough for the non-headbangers to give a listen to. "Arizona" is proto-glam, the groundwork for the soon-to-be exhausted style of metal, and full of the trademark multi-layering hair bands would so adore. Look no further than this album for two things. You want balls-to-the-wall rock and the traditional metal sound, you have found an album you will love. If not, tastes are subjective, no love lost.
In all, "Blackout" is catchy, hard, fast, angry, and yet still pop like enough for anybody to really take a liking to. Does it feel as though this album is overlooked by many? Of course. Metal is such a vast land. You can find anything you want, and in abundance if you so please. But it's not common, anymore at least, to find just some straight up heavy metal to blast. Scorpions' music is made for the headbanger. Or for the guy in the bar who loves to air guitar along to his favorite solos. This album is a full on fun time, enhanced by a deep devotion to the heaviness of heavy metal. Take note retro metallers, this is the benchmark for melodic heavy metal.
Scorpions are one of those classic bands I never checked out until recently, so I won't try to make this review sound like I know everything about the band - rather, I'll be writing this from the perspective of a new listener who has not yet become familiar with all incarnations of the band. Blackout was the band's eighth album, the newest at the time in a long line of innovative hard rocking glory. Well, as was par for the course at the time, Scorpions did not do the same thing they did on the last album, changing gears yet again and still retaining their signature German rocking charm. However, unlike previous changes in style, Blackout was the band's first nose-dive into the 1980s, so the order of the day became shinier, catchier hooks and a sparklier production. Out went the drug-induced haze of Hendrix and Sabbath and in came this new sound.
Blackout, though, is not a shameless sell-out record. The band got a little dumber lyrically, and they started repeating the title of the song more often for their choruses, but does that make this any less of a killer? Fuck no, this is about as good as it gets with commercial Heavy Metal. Virgin Killer is a little better, but this just rules. The thing I like about this album is that while it takes on a very streamlined, basic approach, it never begins to wallow in the realm of the dreaded pandering that so many later bands did. It is a near perfect marriage of the budding 80s brand of poppy commercialism and the traditionally energetic and complex Heavy Metal that had been thriving in the underground for about ten years at the time. The hooks are crystal clear and sticky as hell, the vocals are high-pitched and saccharine, and the riffs are ass-kicking hard-rock-drenched slabs of metal that I just love, galloping along with ease and making you bob your head and tap your feet while you sing along. And yet Scorpions never become too asinine or silly in their simplicity. These guys are honest, never sounding sleazy or watered down, never slowing down the tempo and never playing with anything but 100% energy and heart with that unique Scorpions flavor layered over it like honey.
So, yeah, the title track starts out with a classic, jumpy riff and a chorus that will never come out of your head - this is the definitive Scorpions sound right here! "Can't Live Without You" is another direct hit on the rock radar with its even more upbeat and poppy chorus, drilling itself into the listeners head with ironclad syncopation and a beat for the ages. The album hits a bit of a dead spot with the next two songs, which sort of repeat the exact same formula as that song does (and they even sort of have similar names...), but then the explosive "Now!," with its high-octane chorus, kicks up, and the album soars straight to the stratosphere. "Dynamite" is a straightforward ass-kicker in the same mold as the title track with blazing leads and a heroic chorus, and then "Arizona" is a more staunch and mid-paced jaunt, with a wide-open, roaming sort of feel to the music - definitely the most 70s sounding song on here. "China White" is a real surprise, as it is a total Iron Maiden-esque epic, with a booming vocal performance from Klaus Meine and some nice, searing guitar melodies, and then even the ballad of the album, "When the Smoke is Going Down" isn't sappy or over-done at all (rather a very quiet song, closing out the album with grace); very nice for this sort of music!
I really do wish more bands had taken this sort of path, but alas, even Scorpions themselves would become wrapped up in a proto-Def Leppard/Motley Crue sort of sleaze with the follow up to this one, that I just don't like as much at all. So we're left with Blackout, a shining gem in the rough, full of pep and muscle both, sparkling with a vivid and charging intensity that will provide for many more afternoons of fun. Get this one if you like quality metal or rock music in general, you will not regret it.
Yes, the catchiness is the main charcteristic of this record. It's incredible how the Scorpions know how to write infectious choruses and guitar riffs. Really, after hearing this album I had almost every chorus of “Blackout” in my head... Yeah, it's that damn catchy!
Klaus Meine, with his distinctive voice, is one of the most important musicians on this album. He has an amazing range and voice, and that impresses me even more because he had some kind of problem in his throat during the recording of “Blackout”. It's really spectacular how he still sounds amazingly well with his throat damaged. The two guitar players are also very good on this album, playing catchy guitar riff after catchy guitar riff. The solos are all memorable too (have I already mentioned that this record is very very CATCHY?). The drumming is very predictable and simple, unfortunately, and the bass inaudible on the majority of the songs (meh). The lyrics are.. Well, you certainly don't expect good lyrics from Scorpions, do you?
This record is flawed though. It's main flaw is the lack of variety, since every song follows the same structure and every tune is very focused on the choruses, so better don't expect any interesting instrumental sections within them. The only song that really is a bit more ambitious and complex than the others is “China White”, the longest and heaviest track of “Blackout”. That track absolutely screams “heavy metal!”, thanks to the crushing and powerful guitar work. Really, the riffage would make Sabbath (or Priest) proud.
The title track is among the stand-outs too, a powerful song driven by the crazy vocal acrobacies of an inspired Meine. “Dynamite” is an absolutely essential song too, I just love the parts where Klaus is singing just accompanied by the dynamic drum work... great stuff, indeed. “Now” is a nice little headbangable piece too. Finally, “Can't Live without You” is another relatively aggressive song, but definitely the weakest of the bunch.
The remaining three tunes, “You Give Me All I Need”, “No one Like You” and “When the Smoke is Going Down”, are definitely calmer than the afore-mentioned songs, but only the latter can be labeled as a true ballad. The first two very weak, unfortunatey, mainly because I don't like their choruses, I think both are extremelly annoying. On other hand, “When the Smoke is Going Down” is very underrated, an amazing little emotional tune that works perfectly well as the closer, after the bone crushing “China White”.
So, a good catchy metal album, all in all. The two flaws of it are the lack of durability and variety. After listening to this record five times, I've never touched it again, that can give you an idea of the poor durability of “Blackout”. An influential and important record, though, if you like early heavy metal/hard rock check this out, this might interest you.
One last word to the production, which is pretty damn good if you bear in mind that “Blackout” was recorded during 1982.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the first time the heavy riffs of “China White” are played.
-the chorus of “When the Smoke is Going Down”, sung by an emotional Klaus Meine.
-the parts of “Dynamite” where we just hear Klaus singing, accompanied by the drum lines.
Another excellent release by German metallers Scorpions in a fine moment. This one is specially remarkable, because it meant the move of the band into true metal, definitively. Along with Accept’s “Restless And Wild” (from the same year, 1982, a great period for metal), “Blackout” became a masterpiece of German metal, and had a huge influence on bands like Destruction, Kreator, Running Wild, Warlock, Rage or Blind Guardian. Also, like Accept’s one, this album contributed to the birth of thrash and speed metal, with killer tracks such as “Dynamite”.
“Blackout” features a great and powerful production by the legendary Dieter Dierks, and obviously the result is great. The sound, just solid, aggressive and fast. The classics “Dynamite”, the title track “Blackout” or “Can’t Live Without You” show an new attitude, stronger, harder and aggressive, as the cover also demonstrates. Klaus Meine’s voice sound sharp and dirty, but melodic and sophisticated at the same time. Matthias Jabs attacks with awesome shredding solos and Rudolf Schenker’s incredible virtuosity and riffs also contribute to build a legendary metal sound. The rhythmic parts are also played with passion and efficiency by Hermann Rarebell and Francis Buchholz, one of the best tandems of German music. “Blackout” is a wall of metal sound, filled with strength and raw attitude. “No One Like You” and “When The Smoke Is Going Down” are the ballads of the record. Both are from the best stuff ever released by Scorpions, although, in my opinion, I think the last track is slightly underrated. “Arizona”, “China White” and “Now!” aren’t considered classics by, anyway, what matters is that also shape a metal classic album.
In conclusion, this album is essential, It can’t be missed on any metal collection, along with another masterpieces from the same year, like Iron Maiden’s “Number Of The Beast”, Judas Priest’s “Screaming For Vengeance” or Accept’s “Restless And Wild”. Specially I highlight “Dynamite”, probably the most influential and speediest Scorpions song (along with “Sails Of Charon”) which is still an incredible metal anthem, awesome to listen in their concerts. The recordings from the Blackout Tour ’82 also demonstrate that the band was in a fine moment, ready after “Blackout” to record their definitively work “Love At First Sting”. I hope their recover those many old stuff in their concerts, because there ain’t no doubt that those are really an all time metal classics.
A lot of music from the early 80's gets called "classic rock," but this album really is a classic, and is one of the best by Scorpions. The first thing you hear is that simple yet memorable riff to the album opener, Blackout, and it continues to kick ass the entire way through the album. There's a nice mix of rockers and ballads on this one, with Dynamite standing out in the former category, and When the Smoke is Going Down standing out in the latter category.
The solos, the rhythm guitars, and the vocals all add up to make a unique pop metal experience that is unmatched. The songs are all catchy here: even the lesser songs such as Now! are enjoyable when you're actually listening to them. The rhythm riffs are often simple yet enjoyable, and there are quite a few memorable ones on this album. There's a lot of great solos here, and you never get the feeling that they're doing solos just for the sake of doing them; they all add to the music and take the songs to new heights. Even the solo fills that most bands would use simply as a bridge are catchy.
Klaus Meine puts in a good vocal performance here, especially considering that he had surgery on his throat and they weren't sure he'd be able to sing on the album at all. The lyrics can be a bit immature (e.g. Arizona), though they do try to make serious points at times (China White). But this is pop metal, so what's important about the lyrics is that the choruses are catchy and memorable, and Scorpions covers that just fine. The last three songs provide a nice variety to the album, with Arizona being sort of a departure in sound from the previous songs, with it's laid back, light, fun, airiness. Next comes China White, a terrific, lengthy, creepy, bassy song. And then the album ends with the awesome ballad When the Smoke is Going Down. It really shows off the ability of Scorpions to write a variety of music, but still make it in such a way that it doesn't feel out of place with the other songs on the album.
Pop rock and pop metal bands should really take lessons from Scorpions when it comes to making catchy music that still has integrity. There's possibly no one better at it than them. And this album (along with Lovedrive) is a great example of how to do it. It's an awesome album, a classic, and one of the few albums I'm willing to give a score in the 90's to.
This Album is one of those albums that function as a definition of Traditional Metal. Just pure, catchy, mildly heavy Traditional Heavy Metal. Ooh, and one should not forget the guitars. Not the fastest, or the heaviest, or the most complex (though the solos do climb onto the guitar god's mountian of greatness). Rather, the album is built on solos, and well composed, memorable riffs. And many little licks.
Cover: A pretty original thing, really. It is a well drawn picture of Rudolf Schenker (rhythm guitar) in a staight jacket, medical bandage rapped around his head, and forks over eyes, shattering glass with a scream. I'd suggest a google images search of this cover.
Blackout: the CD opens with the title track, and what a track it is. It is about getting wasted, blacking out, and trying to figure out what happened the night before. Funny lyrics:"I look around and see this face/ What the hell have I lost my taste", "I grab my things and make a run/ on the way out another one/ would like to know before I stop/ did I make it or did I flop".A catchy, slightly raw riff opens, and then a solo picks up and dances around it. The two guitars are then joined by the other instruments and the song begins. The main riff is just so great sounding, being quick but not speed metal (think of Princess of the Night by Saxon). And the solo, singular, is wicked! It carries through the entire song. The second half is catchy as fuck (I have had this solo pop up in my head at the most inapropriate times- especially during Chem. Honors tests)- you'll probably forget the song name, the band name, the vocals, and all else, but this solo will stay with you in the back of your head for the rest of your life.
Can't Live Without You: The riffs are okay, but forgetable. The lyrics give away the songs purpose- its a live song, energetic, and full of forgettable lyrics. But the solo, oh the solo. It's a great solo that carries throughout the whole song. Some shredding, some chords, all greatness.
No One Like You: Another great song. The vocals are excellent and distinctive, as always, via Mr. Meine. The Lyrics are almost cheesy, but are saved by the utter conviction they are sang with. The riffs are, again, good and catchy, and the solo is actually spine tingling.
You Give Me All I Need: At first this song sounds like pure filler. However, after several listens, this song really warms up into a great song. A well composed riff, and some good soloing, and Meine's infectious vocals.
Now!: Technically it's filler. But I like it. It's fast for 1982, and the riffs are great in my opinion- not overly catchy, but fun. The lyrics are reminescent of Manowar's Animals, though this came first. The solo section, along with the second half of the song are 100% head bangable. Forgetable, but fun.
Dynamite: Speed metal. That's what this is. Well, speed metal minus the double base. But the Soloing makes up for it, one of the fastest, most frantic solos I have ever heard (and I'm a Dragonforce fan). The lyrics are typical Scorpions, but with some aggression-"Kick your ass to heaven with Rock and roll tonight", "I'm gonna make my shot tonight/ Take you down to hell/ Eat your meat until you're breathless/ Twirl your hips arround/ I'm gonna break my neck tonight/ to get you off the ground". Great stuff. And the riffs- catchy as hell! Well played. Pretty much perfect. 4 minutes 12 seconds of kicked ass. Bang your head.
Arizona: this is metal that feels like something from the first british invasion (Kinks, Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc). Just fun and catchy. The riffs are nice, not aggressive (though a nonmetal fan would call them aggressive), and set a laid back happy atmosphere (not power metal happy, but rather I want to Hold Your Hand happy). Good, slower soloing that fits the music.
China White: Buckle up and prepare for destruction. This song doesn't sound like a Panzer group flying across fields in western France; this song sounds like a single Tiger tank rolling through the ruins of a concrete city, crushing all in its path- women, children, infantry, jeeps, dogs, and other tanks. The lyrics are very similar to "Winds of Change" in the "No more war, we need love" sense. But much fucking darker. Remember, the Scorpions were hippies in the sixties, so anti-war and love are common lyrics, and becuase of the bands conviction to the ideals, always sound right. The soloing is slower, and, like every other solo here, has alot of feel, attitude, spirit, whatver to it, and comes out fairly heavy. Yes, a solo that sound heavy. Amazing song, and kindof brutal for tridtional metal. Bang thy Skull, and bang it hard.
When the Smoke is Going Down: A slower ballady song in the begining. It seems to be about playing live. the music and lyrics are kind of creepy, and one put together get really eerie.
All in all, a great album, with no real pits or mediocre songs, but instead several awesome, and 3 good songs. If you like traditional metal, ala Saxon, Judas Priest, Motorhead, black Sabbath, and maybe a little bit of NWOBHM, buy this, and by it fast.
Absolutely classic. Sometimes I wonder why I feel the need to review this CD, as so much has been said by the world that little praise can be seen as anything more than repetition. Sadly, the world often forgets it's best creations so I will contribute to making sure that a younger audience knows that this CD is a MUST HAVE for any metal fans collection. The tight as a button production, perfect vocals and ten-ton hooks leave anyone into metal feeling vibrant and alive. Rarely is "feel good" metal something I would dignify, but even I can't put this record down when it sinks it's fangs (or stinger as it may be) into my mind.
The songwriting is mostly flawless, hit-driven and muscular. Never before had a band has a hit single that sounded so strong and intense. "No One Like You" is heavier than one might first imagine due to it's popular place in the metal world. The rest of the CD is eqaully intense and interesting. I could drop track names, but that would simply miss the point I am trying to make. This CD is a "beginning to end" listen that few bands ever came close to capturing. It may be fun, but it's hardly dumb. Those pesky Germans proved for the first time that they WERE the land of the damned genre.
The Scorpions may have since sullied their timeless reputation with strange records that make little sense (even though the band HAS fairly been evolving drastically from it's origins) but this record is any bit as good as "Screaming for Vengence" or "Number of the Beast". The hooks are tight, the performance amazing and the band at the top of their game.
The Scorpions may have never topped the amazing mix of fun and total metal mayhem like they did on this platter...but in one moment they were the PERFECT band.
It seems strange that the first Scorpions review I did(barring the Hits collections) was Eye II Eye. That album is probably the worst record I've ever head(barring Led Zeppelin and nu-metal). I hated it so much that I had to do a review of it. Because it's so...bad. So I did it, and I don't regret it. However, I think people may have the wrong idea about Scorpions. In their prime they were FUCKING AMAZING. And this album is a great example of that.
This is a watershed moment in their careers. Behind them is a wasteland of twisted metal masterworks, song after song shredding out a place in the annals of heavy history that time can never erase. Ahead of them, tremendous commercial success and progressively worse releases in the pop vein. Blackout, even more so than Love at First Sting, is the perfect balance between the two, the band writing powerful hooks that do nothing to compromise the bristling metal might of that first legendary salvo.
The album opens with the most insane Scorpions song since "Virgin Killer", the title track blessed with a galloping proto-speed metal riff chugging along through darkened realms the band would largely ignore in the catalogue to come, Schenker and Jabs revelling in that divine bond the truly great duo's share. Jabs has got to be one of the finest metal guitar players in the business, and this song shows why. He just has such a steely guitar tone that nobody else could touch, and he just shreds through virtually the entire song. Klaus Meine is... Klaus Meine, and this is arguably his finest performance. It's just perfect, his singing and his screaming placing him firmly in the upper echelon of vocalists in the business. And that last caw that closes the song... the man really could shatter glass, and he was just returning from major THROAT SURGERY.
"Can't Live Without You" continues the dominance, on the surface a simple speed rocker that feels oddly under-produced. But listen closer and you will discern the sound of Matthias Jabs pent-up brilliance coming out retro-actively to combat the lifeless void of the 90's records. He literally solo's for the entire song, non-stop. Beyond that, this is further proof that Scorpions had that effortlessly anthemic quality that only the top-tier hair bands had, and they weren't afraid to use it. Just spectacular.
You've all heard "No One Like You" before, but take the time to really remember the first time that scintillating opening solo hit you. This is just class, cheese-metal nirvana. You can't resist singing along with this, and why should you? It's not a ballad, it's sort of a mid-tempo rocker, it's Scorpions. I'd also like to point out that Scorpions had a really solid rythym section in Rarebell and Bucholz, and this song illustrates it well. It's simple, but like AC/DC it's just perfect for the face-melting solo's and insane shrieking the other members of the band supply.
"You Give Me All I Need" is a rather generic power ballad, but to be fair it was written before the whole craze began. Still, this is no "Still Lovin' You". I used still too many times in that sentence. Ah well. "Now!" is energetic because it has an exclamation point, but it's just kind of short and uhh...there.
"Dynamite" is a powerful riff, simple and a little dull, but powerful nonetheless and the boys sure did love it, so much so they reused it on "Bad Boys Running Wild". Still, they are gonna "kick your ass to heaven" and you believe it when the band is on the kind of roll Scorpions were obviously on. Really a generic tune, but generic for Scorpions is like, Ratt x 1000.
When people discuss this album, they always seem to forget "Arizona". It's an unassuming little song, but this thing is quite the sleeper. Emotional and rocking, the performances are uniformly tight. I can't really recommend this song enough, get it however you can. Still, it's got nothing on the song that comes next, the true gem on a gem of an album.
Raise no objections, make no arguments, Scorpions are/were a metal band and "China White" is the sickeningly leaden proof that Schenker and company could lay down some tombstone heavy metal. This song is nuts, unbelievable, ridiculously awesome metal. It's heavier than Maiden, Priest, hell, heavier than a lot of thrash records. It's Scorpions steel combined with Sabbatherian trudge and the results are godly. This song makes me clench my fists and quake in anger at the direction the Scorps chose to go. FUCK the catchy crap, this stuff is the unshakeable foundation of metal. If they'd made more like this, the whole future of metal could've have been substantially changed. Nobody can sing like Klaus Meine, and nobody can create the volatile alchemy of Scorpions firing on all cylinders.
Alas, a song has to follow "China White", and that song is the emotional ballad "When the Smoke Goes Down". It's no "We Burn the Sky", but it's not bad. It's not a great album closer though.
Anyway you slice it, buy this key piece of metal history and appreciate the greatness that these near God's once had. Then sob like a broken-hearted child when they TOTALLY FUCK IT UP!
Well this is one of the earlier metal bands I liked, they may be hair metal, its borderline and up for debate. But this album isn't all that bad. It has its 80's hair metal cheese moments, like a few over the top chorus's, but aside from that its not all that hair metal.
There are a ton of great riffs and guitar work on this album. The solo's are pretty talented, on par with Judas priests. The music doesn't lack any intensity, and there is an even mix of all the elements on this album. The vocals are second to the guitar work. The singer sings with volume and power and you can tell he is into his songs. Excellent drumming and bass work.
Being how this album is old, and has a dated sound, I don't think many people are going to reach to it. It has a difinitive 80's metal sound. Just think 80's mainstream metal done right. I just take points off because the album can get annoying after awhile, there is only so much 80's metal I can take.
Best Track Can't Live Without You.