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Quintessential 80's Scorpions - 90%

OlympicSharpshooter, April 17th, 2004

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!