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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.

The Start To A Decline - 52%

SweetLeaf95, May 14th, 2018

Following a few years after the release of Crazy World, which was a fairly promising start to the new decade, Crazy World would begin to give hints at a downward spiral that was beginning to take form, and pretty much obliterated the '90s for them. With each '90s album getting worse, the band could only be saved in the next decade by Unbreakable. This record in itself can actually still be somewhat enjoyable, but for the most part, it seems like a lot of it would be leftovers from the previous album. Beyond this point, it's pretty much hit or miss for the Scorps.

Up until now, Scorpions were built on heavy metal riffs and unique composition to define their sound, with the occasional ballad, and pop influence in some of the later tracks. This is where that ends, and they begin to overproduce, water down, and simplify their writing style. With a catalog of outstanding output, it's common to run low on ideas. The guitar solos and epic melodies are way less common. The production sounds far too clear for its own good. The drums are pulled up and snipped, removing any kind of ferocity that may have been intended to be present. No less, they're nothing more than a timekeeper here, and aren't very impressive. Not being very metal does not equate to being bad, but watering down rock n roll hits and phoning in the vocals is pretty uncool. Klaus doesn't necessarily sound bad, he hits the notes, and still carries the heat of his nifty vocals. There's just a clear shortage of interest. Plus, the style used in "Unholy Alliance" is pretty annoying, and relies heavily on outbursts of nonsense sounds that fill in where there should be lyrics. Reminiscent of bubble-gum pop groups that would make this common in years to come.

All of this is pretty harsh criticism, with good reasoning, but it isn't a complete snooze-fest. The designs that didn't stray directly from the recycle bin cue interesting thought. While "Woman" isn't the most exciting track, at least it features one of the most fun guitar solos on here, taking a '70s epic rock style. The usage of strings is also intriguing here too. There's definitely good intent with lyrical themes, channeling peace and encouragement with moving forward. It just should have been built on better foundation, to prevent it from tumbling down. And again, rest assured that what is played shows the skill that they all posses, but there's no way it's done to full potential. Think of this as a group of smart students that don't apply their gifts in real life very well.

Since Scorpions were entering older age, it only makes sense that they'd begin to tone down, and approach different themes, I just wish it wasn't so overdone. This is a bargain bin purchase for sure, as there's more fill than thrill. It's only held up by the provoking subtleties thrown in here and there, and rockers that are admittedly catchy, but nothing too special. Give it a spin, but then let it collect dust for a while before re-visiting.

Overlooked, underrated and very enjoyable! - 88%

gazzoid, April 28th, 2006

So, it’s 1993 and Scorpions release their “Face the Heat” album. In 1991 they had released the highly acclaimed “Crazy World” which was a fairly big mainstream success. Featuring power ballads “Send me an Angel” and of course, the huge hit “Wind of Change” which still gets listed in all power ballad listings. A mainstream success and critically acclaimed and also from a fans point of view a damn good album! Could they follow this up with this release? Well yes and no! The album had no real mainstream impact and received lukewarm reviews. However, from my point of view and the point of more long standing Scorpions fans, it was a great album suffering only from the success of it’s predecessor! Because this is also a damn fine album, mixing up the more melodic hard rock orientated ballads, with straight up Hard Rockers to pure traditional heavy metal!

“Alien Nation” starts the album with a riff crunching and powerful enough to get you head banging straight away. Amongst the different styles of hard rock and metal this definitely comes up as one of the heavy metal tracks. In the form of the riff, lyrics and vocals, it’s one of their heaviest songs and one of their best!

“No Pain no Gain” is another solid rocking track, and keeps the momentum going by the opener. A good track, but not mind blowing. “Someone to Touch” is a pure Hard Rock song. It’s slick, catchy and enjoyable. It picks the pace up once more and while it doesn’t make you want to mosh manically, it gets you going and singing along.

“Under the Same Sun” slows things down and is the first ballad on the album. One thing Scorpions do better than anyone else in rock or metal are ballads methinks. No AOR or Glam metal band comes close. This doesn’t come up to the standards of say “Still loving you” but it’s still a beautiful track. “Unholy Alliance” is a heavier track, though down tempo and gloomy, but it has a slow heaviness. It’s another good song and despite it’s speed or lack of it, the chorus is rather catchy.

“Woman” is not my favourite track though I appreciate it. Bluesy ballad is how I’d describe this, quite different to the rest of the album. You’ll either adore it or just appreciate it. “Hate to be Nice” takes us to some hard rock, another good song but not one of the better one’s on the album. “Taxman Woman” carries the trend of hard rock, fun hard rock at that. It’s slick and catchy and it’s pure hard rock.

“Ship of Fools” is a much quicker track and is heavier and here we enter into the realms of heavy metal again methinks. This is also a catchy, slick riffing, nice soloing and it’s a track you can really head bang too. However, “Nightmarre Avenue” is even heavier, (Only the opener is heavier) and this is one you can really headbang too. Good heavy metal track this one. It’s fast, aggressive and contains a nice shredding solo!

“Lonely Nights” is another ballad that we’re treated to, and we really are treated to. For me this is as good as any ballad they’ve done and Klaus Meine really shines. Of course he shines throughout the album (Especially on “Woman” to be fair) but here is him at his best. The power and emotion of his voice mixed with the atmospheric melodic guitars of Shenker/Jabs makes this a brilliant, if overlooked ballad.

And overlooked is a great way to describe this album. I mean there are no real weak tracks on it. Ok I’m not amazingly fond of “Woman” but I see it’s brilliance. And tracks like “No Pain No Game” “Hate to be Nice” and to some extent “Under the Same Sun” don’t stand out, but they’re still good. They’d stand out on a lesser album. On this album the real standout tracks are “Alien Nation” “Someone to Touch” “Ship of Fools” and “Lonely Nights” stand out for different reasons.

It may not be mind-blowing, revolutionary or Scorpions “Magnum Opus” but it’s still a really good album. As the songs I mentioned specifically show, this album provides what a good hard rock/metal album needs to. Stomping anthems, slick and catchy tunes and a little but of atmosphere and emotion, with our without schmaltz!

But all in all, it’s a really enjoyable piece of melodic heavy metal that I’d recommend to fans of this style! Don’t believe the… lack of hype!

Great Release!!! - 87%

Brat1983, January 17th, 2006

This album is pretty special to me, being the first album ever I heard by Scorpions. I loved it 7 years ago and I still love it to this day! It's a great varied mix of heavy metal and hard rock songs + some ballads thrown in here and there.

8 of the 13 tracks here are real killers while the rest rank from ok to good.

Alien Nation is the heaviest track I've ever heard by the Scorpions! A real nice heavy metal anthem about the city of angels. Real catchy riff!!!

No Pain No Gain is another heavy metal attack that will leave you stunned. Catchy and melodic, yet very heavy!

Under the Same Sun is the first ballad here. A real likeable tune asking why mankind is fighting all over the world... why we can't live as one. Yeah, it's been used many times by many bands, but this one is one of the best ones of that bunch!

Woman, possibly the greatest song I've ever heard by Scorpions... one of the best songs by any band ever... It's impossible to describe... it's just perfect in any way! Wonderfully done falsettos by Klaus Meine!!

Taxman Woman.. A hard rocking song of the taxman woman coming to take all your money... "if it wasn't for you I would be rich... Instead I'm a poor son of a bitch". Nice rhythm and good solo.

The last 3 tracks I wanna talk about are all ballads, starting with the wonderful Lonely Nights. A song about heartache and longing for the lost love. Scorpions are perfect at writing these songs!

The last 2 songs of the disc are only available on cd. It's 2 acoustic ballads: Destiny + Daddy's girl. Destiny just wants you to sing along it's amazing chorus while Daddy's girl wants to tell you the sad story of incest. It actually is a little repetitive, but it's okay as it's still not overdone and it's a serious matter it focuses on!

The last 5 songs are all hard rock tracks, that stands out fine on their own but put together on 1 disc they sound a little too similar. Nevertheless, each song are masterly played. Schenker & Jabs work damn well together!! And Klaus Meine's vocal is better than ever here. Those falsettos in Woman are simply sublime!!!

A very fine effort by Scorpions, yet sadly overlooked and critizised. This fine gem deserves a place in every melodic hard rock / heavy metal fan's collection!