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Nearly perfect pop-metal - 86%

OlympicSharpshooter, April 18th, 2004

And after Blackout there was Love at First Sting, the second biggest seller in Scorpions catalogue, and with good reason. This is scintillating hair metal, quintessential 80's rock, and a great all around record. I don't think it can be denied that the mid-to-late 70's records were the Scorpions real zenith (In Trance, Virgin Killer, Taken by Force, Tokyo Tapes), but this stuff was the height of their popularity, and it shows that they could do hard-edged commercial metal as good or better than Ratt, Def Leppard, or Motley Crue. Turns out this would also be the last really good Scorpions record though, as the band suddenly developed a single-minded drive to destroy any respect that twelve years of hard rockin' had accrued.

Other than Klaus Meine's inimitable voice, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Scorpions is guitar perfection, and LAFS does not disappoint. I've always found it strange that Scorpions, who have had four unbelievably talented and influential guitarists are never given their fair due from guitar mags and metal lists. Rudolf Schenker, Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth, and Matthias Jabs. These men have come up with solo after solo, riff after riff that have been branded into my brain, many of them from this album. Rudy Schenker and Jabs are the tandem on LAFS, and although it doesn't match the virtuosity of Blackout, there is plenty to love here. "Bad Boys Running Wild" is the frenzied album opener, and despite the insipid lyrics and recycled riff (see: "Dynamite"), it's hard to ignore. Harder still is "Crossfire", an adrenaline-pumping rhythm section driven firecracker that is tailor-made for the live environment.

Since you've all heard it ad nauseum, it's easy to forget how original "Rock You Like a Hurricane" is. There's no blues-based simplistics here, Scorpions blending thespian metal theatrics with arena rock, coming up with a really incendiary song that took the air-waves by storm. Just listen to that opening flourish, cold steel winding and mixing and building up to a crescendo, the verses simple and withdrawn with the guitars simply adding atmosphere while Meine whispers gleefully, and then BOOM! that chorus hits you like a tidal wave and the guitars build up these windy cathedrals that a less commercial band might've turned into something like "Hallowed be thy Name". And hell, that solo has some serious power behind it, almost making you forget the nonsensical video for the song. Almost.

For pure force though, there is a song that tops it. "Coming Home" is a flat out amazing song, folks. It opens with a tender acoustic intro, fooling you into thinking it's another power ballad (not that there's anything wrong with that...) before smacking you upside the head and bursting forth with unbridled metal might. This is pretty good speed metal actually. That underrated rhythm section is top-notch here, particularly Rarebell who stomps and fills with an admirable solid quality like a less busy Vinnie Appice. Man though, you just can�t ignore the hot chops on the solo, one of those shredders that just tears off the record and "melts your face". Hell, Meine is perfect on this one too, stretching his upper register and playing what could be a silly song with just straight-faced earnestness that you just have to respect it. Very good use of sudden stops in the action too, as if simulating a rollercoaster ride.

The new Scorpions keep it simple, stupid, attitude is really laid out with the gleefully sparkly "Big City Nights". This is just a perfect energetic rocker, sorta like "No One Like You" in that it has the classic Scorpions steel grafted onto a standard pop construct and forms a totally different hybrid. The solos by Jabs are just so damn dramatic, even here, especially the little transitional lick heading into the slow break, before taking off on the power of Meine's voice for another fast Jabs diddler. This is perfect cruising music, and its great fun to sing along with these strangely accented German tourists. And, I'll point out, this is nothing like the ball-less clap-trap that Scorpions would put out basically non-stop for the rest of their careers, the soulless pap that would make Scorpions possibly the worst sell-outs in metal history.

A lot of the other songs on here are awfully generic, particularly Schenker's rather dull classic rocky "As Soon as the Good Times Roll", so I'll gloss over them in favour of devoting more time to the last song on the album, and also the best one. Yep, "Still Loving You" is one of the all time best Scorpions songs, and probably the best power ballad ever written. Really. Klaus Meine is kind of a repulsive little imp, but I'll be damned if he isn't a romantic SOB. This song is his calling card, a challenge to other vocalists out there to be this emotional, this grandiose, this by God powerful. Thing is, he cruises through the majority of this thing in a very reserved fashion, scarcely registering a pulse as he spins his tale of lost love and woe, going up just a little at the choruses, stringing us along... until we get to the real climax, this incredible release of pent up lust and sorrow, perhaps the zenith of the mid to late Scorpions catalogue.

"I'm still lovin' you
Me alone
Still lovin' you..."

So, simple, but so effective. And let�s not forget one of the best solos I've ever heard, Jabs and Schenker turning in a magical performance, one of those long solos that follows the music rather than breaking from it, adding colour and depth to these simple chords, duelling high-note for high-note with Meine before plunging down. It's just perfection.

So despite the effusive praise, I do have to knock off a few points here and there because it isn't as all-around solid as Blackout and it has a lot of really forgettable songs. But when Scorpions are on, as they are through so much of Love at First Sting... they're tough to top.

Stand-Outs: �Still Loving You�, �Coming Home�, �Rock You Like a Hurricane�