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Crazy, Savage, Stingy, but not Entirely Loving - 85%

bayern, May 15th, 2018

This was the first Scorpions album that I got as a converted devout fan of the band. The conversion occurred a year earlier when a friend gave me the two live recordings (“Tokyo Tapes” & “Worldwide Live”) which hooked me so much that I was holding the guys’ entire discography (save for “Lonesome Crow”) in my hands merely a week later. Yeah, I tracked them all down in a matter of days and was pretty much the first person in my hometown to get a hold of the album reviewed here. As eager as I was to hear it, I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from it. Another poppy radio-friendly metallisms along the lines of “Savage Amusement” was by all means going to do the trick, but at the same time I was hoping for a return to the more boisterous exploits of the earlier recordings…

Only to come across the most lopsided creation in the band’s repertoire the first half qualifying for decency, but not for much else, what with this “cheeser teaser pleaser” at the beginning that sounded as though the band had decided to pay tribute to Motley Crue and the other glam metal cohorts from the States. To put the weakest track on the album up front is either a sign of “couldn’t care less, having already become multi-millionaires” attitude, or an illustration of supreme confidence in the quality of the ensuing material. Well, it’s a “don’t believe her, him, and the whole band” situation after the second cut, another mellow crowd-pleaser that carries on with the Americanized direction taken with the opener. Three in a row? Totally, with the rowdier, but still fairly laid-back “To Be with You in Heaven” after which the megahit “Wind of Change” doesn’t sound as vexing anymore being the staple for the band ballad, and also the closure to this thoroughly unnerving first half.

Well, not exactly as “Restless Nights” still belongs to it, but the thundering drums at the start are finally a sign for more belligerent things to come although this piece is just the pounding quasi-doomy warm-up for what follows. What follows would bring the fan back to the glory days of “Blackout” and “Animal Magnetism” with string of rousing metal hymns “Lust or Love” still more on the moderately friendly side, but the lashing moshing riffs would finally make one satisfied with “Kicks After Six” keeping the pogo going with bouncy lively rhythms. Some of the speed metal vigour of old is nicely recaptured by the vociferous “Hit Between the Eyes” after which all faith in the band will be restored, “Money and Fame” adding a seismic ship-sinking flavour to the proceedings with echoes of the great “China White” from “Blackout”. The title-track should have been the closer, though, its frenetic thrashing intensity the culmination of this accelerating showdown in the second half, but old habits die hard and the guys wrap it on with a ballad again, one that will send hordes of angels at your door when you most need them…

And yet this is an album you by all means need, even if just as a sheer example of the “meeting all your expectations after putting you off completely first” phenomenon. Not many acts would be able to pull it out after such an underwhelming inauguration, and I’m sure the majority of the fanbase had stayed with this opus even after the opening trio of creamers; after all, it was “Savage Amusement” that came before it, for crying out loud, it wasn’t fuckin’ “Reign in Blood” so why not wait and see how far down the glammy rabbit hole the band can reach… Well, the cheesy sticky trance doesn’t last for very long, and when the guys wake up they’re virtually unstoppable all the way to the downbeat “angelic” finale.

The relatively high score given here is obviously not an acknowledgement of consistent provision of brilliance; it’s more of a bow to the band’s uncanny ability to go back on track after an initial weak turn of events; which is also a feat in itself if you think of it, but of a different kind. The Scorps didn’t have to do it, they could have covered the whole Berlin Wall, or whatever was left of it at the time, with sugarese (sugar + cheese); they were already millionaires and all; why care about all the hardened metallers around the whole wide world at the dawn of a new decade… Well, they simply couldn’t help it due to all the vigour and aggression traditionally seeping within the Scorpions brand, or rather species; it’s in their DNA, what can you do…

And this wasn’t even the final chapter from the lofty side of the band discography. They pulled themselves together again three years later for “Face the Heat”, another fine compendium of catchy heavy metal anthems, poignant ballads, and rowdy speedy outbursts. It seemed as though the Scorps might as well instigate a small old school revival during those gruesome groovy/aggro/industrial times provided that this was also the year when Accept and Mercyful Fate came back to life. Alas, there wasn’t much support from the rest of their colleagues with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest both losing their emblematic frontmen with no high hopes for their future instalments, with the Tony Martin period from the Black Sabbath saga having long since reached its peak, and with DIO (R.I.P.) focusing on his scientific career more with designs for the creation of a new breed of “angry machines”…

And our heroes here decided to give up the fight and surrender to their “basic instincts” which in their case meant the attainment of a complete fiasco another three years down the line with… Just when the old school was preparing to come back in full bloom once again, one of its founders found it appropriate to spit on it. A shameless stance about which the excellent “Unbreakable” couldn’t do much provided that every subsequent album was more or less a reminder of the band’s degrading metamorphoses from the mid/late-90’s. The scorpion is still alive and kicking, and who knows, maybe another crazy savage “party” would be stirred in the near future… if not as a routine occurrence, at least as a combustible retirement stunt.