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Positively Sunburnt by the Setting Sun - 82%

bayern, October 16th, 2018

Back to the Scorps again, but only cause I listened to the album reviewed here the other night and decided to throw a few lines its way. Besides, I always approach this opus with a certain amount of guilt since I didn’t like it at all on first, and even second listen; my cassette came with two bonus tracks, “Destiny” and “Daddy´s Girl”, two impossibly soporific, soap opera-sque ballads, added to an album that already had three full-fledged ballads… that was simply too much, even for a less pretentious 90’s recording. I didn’t know they were bonus tracks initially, and it took me a while to shake off the sleazy, uneasy feeling that indelibly attached itself to them, especially to this repulsive (text-wise) “Daddy’s Girl”.

The album sits much more comfortably in my (sub)conscious now, and I find little wrong with it coming after such a climactic (commercially, not so much musically) showing like “Crazy World”. Yes, the world was crazy, accepting and welcoming the groove, the grunge, the aggro and all the other new vogues in music, and it remained to be seen if Scorpions, one of its most beloved “offspring”, would join the noisy fray. Should they turn to roaring panteras or swap their real heads for machine-like ones, and start post-thrashing the neighbourhood with all the anger they could muster? Or should they remain faithful to the good old heavy metal to which they owed literally everything they had…

a big plus in the resumes of the Holy Five of classic heavy metal is that neither surrendered to the numetal trends in the 90’s, and although neither created anything truly brilliant (“Jugulator”, anyone?) during this period, they aptly avoided the flop quagmire, some albums with the “II” in the title notwithstanding… yes, he’s looking at you, Scorpions, but that’s an entirely different story, let’s leave it alone for now cause right now we’re dealing with the sequel to the “Crazy World”, an effort that sounds almost as convincing as its predecessor.

But first things first, let’s get those ballads (“Under the Same Sun”, “Woman”, “Lonely Nights”) out of the way cause they seem to be the least worthy part of the album. Yeah, by 1993 the famed Germans had either gotten tired of the ballad sector, one they made their own through the years, or had lost to a large extent their knack of composing classy soul-grabbing, pacifying tunes. In fact, these three pieces are the weakest creations of the band in the balladic field, melancholic banal exercises in dreamy pseudo-rockabilia with only “Lonely Nights” creating some tension thanks to the rowdier chorus and the musical accompaniment around it. Those three should have been released separately, along with the mentioned bonus tracks, under the title “Balladic Respites” or “Soothing Tunes for the Groovy Generation”, for instance, and still would have remained at the bottom of the guys’ discography profit-wise.

The rest should be able to heat up your household on a cold Sunday morning with “Alien Nation” sounding way more boisterous than the “teaser, pleaser” at the start of “Crazy World”, “No Pain No Gain” served with a catchy epic vibe, a nice sing-alonger which more officiant clout is dispersed by the energetic heavy rocker “Someone to Touch”. The Americanized inclinations from the past few recordings come back to life on the cool cheesy crowd pleasers “Unholy Alliance” and “Hate to Be Nice”, possible leftovers from the “Savage Amusement” recording sessions, before rock’n roll meets metal on the frolic merry-go-rounder “Taxman Woman”, with some of the speed metal “nightmares” of old finely recaptured on the dynamite… sorry, dynamic “Nightmare Avenue”.

This is Scorpions at their least pretentious and even least caring, if you like, unleashing a conglomerate of quite a few nuances and moods which to these ears sounds like an expanded, shall I also add modernized, version of their most diverse effort before that one, “Lovedrive”. There’s nearly one hour of music to be savoured here, and although those who have left their hearts and souls with “Animal Magnetism” or “Blackout” won’t be perennially entertained, there would be little that the regular Scorpions fan would find to frown upon. Rockin’ hard in a more relaxed mode can still produce positive results, even during the 90’s, and this album here is a testimony for that. The old dinosaurs of metal had no fascination for the groove, and life for them would apparently continue as usual, a stance greatly strengthened by the reformation of both Accept and Mercyful Fate the same year. All of a sudden it felt like the 80’s again with heavy metal kicking on all fours in the midst of the numetal craze…

Only that the Sun stirred a surprising setting stunt in the Scorps’ camp three years later with the timid, pretty pure as well, “Basic Instinct”... or was it the other way around? Nevermind, this was a radio-friendly hard rocky charade that wouldn’t have entertained even the Def Leppard crowd properly. With the Sun completely gone later, the band got lost in the instilled twilight as they couldn’t see well, their blurry vision producing “Eye II Eye”; no comments. Anything else released from this moment onward was going to be a revelation more or less, but the fairly good “Unbreakable” indeed sounded like a statement of intent… only that this wasn’t the case; Germany’s finest prefer to stay in the shade for the time being, they don’t want to get too metalburnt; not after all those scars that cover their bodies from top to bottom, sure vestiges of a most glorious past.