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Blackout was another huge success for Scorpions on which they adapted and reinvented their sound, now completely deprived of the 70’s manners, more violent and looser than ever without of course, denying these German’s predilection for melodies and refinement. The next release was even more successful, establishing the band status of rock and metal stars and most popular Teutonic act in the planet. In a time of trendy ballads, glam make-up and sexual ambiguity, Meine & co. still displayed aggression and speed, even though their detractors have always considered Love At First Sting an explicit commercial attempt. Music speak for itself and when you check out these songs you realize how heavy and intense they are in contrast with the poppy metal and romance of most of their equals by the mid-80’s. Here they are, rockin’ you like a hurricane with 9 timeless classics.
Huge, crushing riffs can be found on “Bad Boys Running Wild” and “Big City Nights”, really crude and weighty, certainly not intended to make the music excessively accessible, rather making it slightly filthy and raw in Scorpions’s particular way. Riffs are devastating, abrasive, yet combined with undeniable sophistication and melody, generally added by Klaus’ polished verses and repetitive choruses. There’s a good balance between roughness and finesse, those heavy lines provide energy and vigor, while vocals refine and make the music easier to digest, easy to remember as you can sing-along those infectious lyrics. Other times, it seems the group focuses much more on harmonies and tenderness, without getting too cheesy on “I’m Leaving You” for instance, on which Meine performs some touching, melancholy words, mixed however with the truly violent tone of both Jabs & R. Schenker’s slamming riffs in perfect harmony and balance. Matthias would always deliver a bunch of exquisite fills, pinch harmonics, pull-offs and blistering shredding solos that introduce certain complexity to the predominantly simplistic schemes. Songs with a heavier edge soon interrupt that dominant melody as “The Same Thrill” and “Comin’ Home”, both frenetic and relentless, presenting the most incendiary riffs and hooks on the whole record, speeding up the tempos without losing control and creating a wall of sound of pure brutality and power (I insist, in their own way). The harsh texture and sharpness of guitar lines is definitely making the climax really intense – despite the clearly sweet verses, the level of aggression is notably high and uninterrupted, generally determining the essence and mood of the music. Even unusually configured pieces like “As Soon As The Good Times Roll” with its cool reggae, funky touch and the dramatic atmosphere on “Crossfire” feature some ferocious guitar work, buried under Meine’s words but setting an ideal instrumental basis anyway.
Scorpions haven’t gone soft on this album, their innate priority for velocity and sonic brutality prevail –serving those strong melodies on a few compositions, yet in general reigning and defining the nature and direction of the music. There are lots of verses and choruses that don’t interrupt the instrumental section excessively – technique and difficulty are present, despite the obvious policy of simplicity of song-structures the band embraced along with the NWOBHM acts back in the early-80’s already. But they haven’t pushed away complication completely, some of these instrumental passages are quite intricate and meticulous, specially Jabs’ soloing and riff progression, seemingly endless rich fills and dexterous string techniques provide the music of superior abilities and virtuosism, despite its initial straight-up concept. The guitar combo is totally inspired, easily designing cohesive lines of bigger strength, stronger presence and heaviness than ever before – including complementary harmonies, overtones and melody that bring some charm to the songs as well. “Still Loving You” and its sweet arpeggios and chord progression is an exhibition of efficiency and talent, instrumentally simplistic to not interfere too much with Klaus lyrical words but adding as usual competent arrangements and fills, preceding that final section catharsis, revealing Rudolf’s most memorable solo. Inspiration and grace, absolute musicianship and chemistry between these guys, ideas and creativity are the elements reflected on each of these cuts – effortlessly played and composed, maybe not reaching peaks in terms of complexity but demonstrating the group’s capability to adapt and survive the new trends on the metal scene without betraying their genuine philosophy, necessarily evolving to prevail in the new decade.
Love At First Sting includes a heavy artillery of rabid riffs, frantic shredding solos and rampaging tempos, which define an aggressive heavy metal sound, sophisticated and accessible at the same time due to the incorporation of strong melodies and irresistible choruses – yet remaining generally crude and violent. “Still Loving You” and “Rock You Like A Hurricane” became instant hits and inevitably eclipsed the rest of cuts, it seems most people misjudge the whole record by those 2 only without giving a chance to the rest – a wrong choice as each of the other tunes is as musically strong as those classics. More than 3 decades later, this album preserves its freshness and originality but the negative judgment of the band’s detractors is soon forgotten.