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Scorpions Month V: A Farewell. - 93%

Empyreal, January 1st, 2010

Well, the end of 2009 is nigh and what is there to do but finish off Scorpions Month with one of my favorite albums by the German maestros of metal? In Trance is an incredibly genuine, heartfelt work. This might not be quite as good as the double-knockout of Virgin Killer and Blackout, but it is close – an important transition from their obscure early days to the fame they’d go on to achieve later on.

I just really enjoy the smoky, Jimi Hendrix-fueled haze that this dabbles in to great extents. It’s just such a damned honest work. Innocence is a prevailing factor here, with every song being one of predominantly Good Nature. There are no frills here, just loopy, melodious leadwork, laid back riffs and the frivolous vocals of frontman Klaus Meine, who sounds surprisingly young and delicate here, without the edge he would grow on some of the future releases. A lot of these songs are actually of a more restrained tempo, with even the heavier ones falling prey to the egregious guitar solos and leads.

Long live those leads. So entrenched in 70s rock beauty are they – castles in the wind, made of sand, perhaps falling down as the tide of the band’s forthcoming success washes in. Uli Jon Roth is just a God on here. He completely dominates, moreso than on any of the following albums he’s on. Every song is endowed with 70s-style leads, riffs and harmonies so delicious that it’s hard to really believe what you’re hearing at times. It’s just such a delightful album to listen to. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song from this band as wistful and remorseful as “Evening Wind” – none so beautiful, for that matter, either. Images are conjured of epic nights under the stars, never ending, endowed in fields of long grass and glistening fireflies. The Sabbathine riffs ride out in between the huge, searing solos that graze it so thoroughly.

And other songs share a similar temperament – the catchy title track, the melodic crunch of “Life’s Like a River,” the strange mini-epic “Living and Dying” and the slow burn of closer “Night Lights” – all of these songs bust out killer leads and fuzzed-out exclamations of bliss that you would be hard pressed not to enjoy. The harder, heavier tracks like “Dark Lady” and “Top of the Bill” pick up the pace a bit with wondrously fun grooves and timeless songwriting, just great fun all around.

I do have to dock them a couple of points for throwaway tracks like “Longing for Fire,” though. And “Robot Man” is kind of fun, but it really does break up the mood here, and I can’t help but think they should’ve either moved it to another album or at least not put it in between the majestic, dreary 70s hangover of the rest of the songs here. It just breaks the flow a bit, and the album would’ve really built up better if it wasn’t there.

But, hey. Most of this album is like a dream; hazy and oddly colored, but memorable beyond all doubt. Only you’re not sleeping, you’re witnessing Heavy Metal brilliance at work, wide awake, with both ears open.