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For me, Scorpions are one of about three bands whose watered-down, commercially-driven musical output appeals to me as much as their early, hungry years, when they sounded bulletproof. However, those pop-rock albums aren't really worth reviewing. It's just generic late 80's rock, that stayed at the pub long enough to stumble into the 90's. But this album represents one of the best examples of a band successfully fusing the different sounds they toyed with in the past. Now, the hazy Hendrix-esque daze cannot be recaptured without first catching Uli Jon Roth, but the youthful essence is brilliantly delivered on 'Unbreakable'.
Now. Klaus Maine. I adore this man. He is capable of singing so many emotions, and he seems to be in possession of an elixir of youth, because he sounds like he stepped out of the 'Blackout' recording sessions. He doesn't scream as much as he used to, but on a track like 'Blood Too Hot,' he shows he can shriek like a eunuch warrior in the midst of slaughtering his testicled enemies, whilst delivering operatic dramatism on 'Maybe I, Maybe You,' which incidentally features a piano for the first moody section before moving into a heavy guitar-driven second half. Gang vocals occasionally back up Klaus on the album, adding a touch of menace to the faster tracks.
Scorpions have had catchy guitar work for many a decade now. 'Top of the Bill' is as memorable as 'Bad Boys Running Wild' and the riffs on this album will not escape your head for while after you finish listening to them. There is a variety of meaner metallic riffs that cover groovy tempos to neckbruising speeds, as well as the flat-out heaviness on 'New Generation,' which brings back memories of 'China White.' And that is always a good thing. However, Rudolf and Matthias also deliver some happy bouncy riffs on the out-and-out rock n roll tracks that just make you feel good and all mushy inside. But before I convince you that I have a little girl trapped inside of me, I will mention the ballad 'Through My Eyes.' Why? Because this is not the typical love song that captured the hearts of millions of women around the world. This has some moody arpeggios that do bring you down, before the crashing chords of the chorus pick you up in an inspirational high. In terms of soloing, Matthias handles that venture capably, adding in licks every so often to complement Klaus's voice. There are some interesting solos on the album, such as 'Someday is Now' and they all add to the mood perfectly.
The bass doesn't get a lot of time to itself on the album, with only the infrequent slide to kick off a new verse, just shake things up. However, it does fill out the sound admirably, mostly following the guitars with a few variations. Because it is so loud and chunky, the songs are a lot meatier than they would be without the good production.
On the topic of drums, they don't do anything especially special on the album, adding occasional fills to keep things from getting stale and utilising most of the kit to get the best 4/4 groove possible. The tempo varies from mid-paced rock stomps, with the classic snare-bass dominating everything, to up-tempo speedfests that get me jumping around everytime.
The one track on the album I have anything against is 'Borderline' for dragging on longer than necessary and getting in the way of 'Blood Too Hot.' It's not a bad track but it grinds on repetitively and not sparking any emotion from me.
The title of this review states that this is a nostalgic album. I say that because it sounds as though Scorpions are wishing for the return of the good old days, from their pleas for social change on 'New Generation' to their tales of the shenannigans of the 60's on 'Remember the Good Times' with such a passion they sound like they went out and bought new Kevlar vests and are ready to kick the world in the balls again. It blends all the best aspects and sounds of the band into one album. I would go as far as to call it the ultimate Scorpions album, but 'Lovedrive' is making me feel guilty.
At this point, suffering reader, you may be asking but why is it nostalgic for me? That hasn't come up in the review at all. Aren't you going to tell us?
(How's that for an anticlimax?)
For so many years this band was my favorite band in the world. The last nearly perfect album they made however was Savage Amusement way back in 1988. Subsequent albums had good moments yet overall they dwelled in mediocrity from 1991's Crazy World, 1993's Face The Heat onward, with the exception being the terrific Acoustica released in 2002. The Scorps hit the bottom with the release of the tepid Eye To Eye about four years ago, and it seemed as though they might never release another studio album with new songs.
Unbreakable is a good record. I count at least 7 very strong songs that could be released as singles. The additional songs are decent but not outstanding. There is no doubt that Klaus Meine still has one of the best and most distinctive voices in the world. Rudolph Schenker is a genius at creating catchy riffs and writing powerful heavy pop songs. The production and mix is very strong for the most part with a huge bassline pumping under everything. However, it seems that after establishing guitar God status with his inventive playing back in 1982 on Blackout, and solidifying that status on 1984's Love At first Sting and Savage Amusement in 1988, Matthias Jabs has all but disappeared. We know he is physically there, but his soloing on virtually everything since 1988 is generic and buried in the mix. Why is that? Where have you gone Mattias?
On to the songs: I find Love 'Em Or Leave 'Em to have elements of parts from Taken By Force from 1978 incorporated into the song. The song is extremely catchy and could be a hit; Deep And Dark is perhaps the best song on the album and is another potential huge hit; Maybe I Maybe You is very stong,starting out mellow and features Klaus before building to a cresendo; Someday Is Now could be another hit and reminded me of Slade's Run Runaway from 1983 with the layers of acoustic guitars under the entire song; Through My Eyes sounds like something from the In Trance/Virgin Killer days back in 1976 and 1977, and it is fabulous; And finally Remember The Good Times is a catchy bonus song that has some clever lyrics and feel good athmosphere.
I rate the CD 83 out of 100 which is a bit high, but I do so because how many bands these days put out albums with 7 of the 13 tunes being very strong? Not too many. Not to mention how many bands who have been recording as long as the Scorpions have (32 years) still put out high quality material? Not many if any. This is a good album by a band who can pull this stuff off in their sleep. They are legends. This is quality work.
The first question that I asked myself when I got the Scorpions’ latest release Unbreakable, was would it be unlistenable? I mean this was one of my favorite bands growing up, the last studio record of theirs that I liked was Crazy World. That record wasn’t even up to par with the previous records. Since that time the band has been in tail spin, releasing three best of compilations, three live records & three studio records. Now with the fourth studio record, would they redeem themselves? Yes & no. While they have returned with a decent record, it doesn’t in anyway measure up to their classic material. It’s not Eye II Eye either. They have experimented with some new sounds & updated themselves, without isolating their core audience. Is too late? They really surprised the fans with the last studio disc & many ran to the hills & it’s safe to say that many probably won’t be back. The rockers on this disc will have your pulse pumping, the weakest tracks, which for me is surprise, are the ballads. Scorpions have always delivered, when it came to those. I think the choice in opening the record with "New Generation," was brilliant, it’s one of the most solid songs on the record. Other stand outs include, "Borderline," "My City My Town," and then there’s a song listed as a bonus track entitled "Remember the Good Times." That song is similar to Billy’s Joel’s "We Didn’t Start the Fire," fuled by German adrenaline. It’s the bastard brother of that song, however only spanning the decade of the 60’s and they do an admirable job covering all that happend during that time in history. Klaus sounds remarkable as usual, as does Mathias & Rudolf, I have seen these guys live three times, during a span of 12 years with several years between each show. I haven’t walked out disappointed yet. They put on one hell of a show & haven’t lost a step. Unbreakable in short, is a respectable effort, hopefully the better is yet to come. Not bad for a band that has been around for 30 years plus & counting.