The Scorpions: Sting In The Tail
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
Release Date: March 23rd, 2010
Record Label: Universal Music
My rating points:
Legendary German rockers Scorpions dropped a bombshell a couple of months back, announcing that they have just one final album and world tour left in them. I'm sure all Scorpions fans around the world would be sad to see them go, but at the same time there has been excitement for the final album, and it was definitely something to look forward to. Guitarist and founder Rudolf Schenker promised us that this album is the essence of the Scorpions' 40 years of existence and that is the reason why it is the final album. Well, here it is finally, so let's see track by track whether it has fulfilled that promise.
The opening riff of the first track 'Raised On Rock' can be associated with a term that best describes the Scorpions, 'stadium rock'. I can already imagine the band bursting on to the stage on their upcoming tour with this riff, to the delight of a packed crowd. The lyrics are the usual easy going kind, patented by bands like AC/DC and the Scorpions themselves. They blend in perfectly with the music and make each and every person in a crowd sing along. I'm talking in terms of crowd response because that's how Scorpions play their music. They are all about being a live band and you can hear that in the music. You can already feel the essence that Rudolf was talking about, and it's a fantastic way to kick off the album. Klaus Meine's vocals are sounding as good as ever and the other members have stepped up to the plate perfectly well. The guitar solos are short and crisp, a la their signature style. The expectations from the rest of the album have risen even higher after this sort of opening.
They step up the tempo just a little bit with the title song, which follows. The intro riff is again the identifiable feature and separates this one from the previous song, recurring throughout the song. That's the beauty of a Scorpions album. Each song is kept within a certain musical structure, yet you can tell one from the other. It might seem like the most obvious quality that any good album should have. But quite often, bands of the 'arena rock' kind do sound similar within their own music. I'm glad it's not the case with this album. The guitar solo sounds a bit more prominent in the mix though, while there isn't much in terms of lyrics. That still doesn't take away much from the song and it should please the fans, especially when listened to along with the songs adjacent to it on the album. 'Slave Me' is the next track, and music definitely get heavier and harder with this one. Klaus's vocals are a lot crunchier in parts, while he also hits the usual high notes within the same song, showing how versatile he still is, despite being all of 61 years old. The work on guitars is the best so far. The song does have some filler lyrics towards the end of it, but then I'm sure the band themselves would agree that the lyrics aren't meant to take you to deep-seated thoughts but are meant for fun, to rock out to in the purest sense. The album certainly succeeds in doing that so far.
The following track 'The Good Die Young' starts out with beautifully arranged music that should be a delight to the purist's ears. This one is definitely of the power ballad kind. There's a nice little bonus surprise for the fans, with ex-Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen as guest vocalist. She is an amazingly talented singer and I commend the Scorpions to choose her for the purpose. For some this will be a good and refreshing break from the rock and roll in the tracks described above, while it might not be the cup of tea others wanted. This song is all about the vocals. The Klaus-Tarja combination is sugar to the ears and it should grow on the Scorpions fan after a few listens. The album goes from the intricate ballad to pure rock again, in the form of 'No Limit'. The chorus should be fun to sing along to and the guitar solo surely induces a temptation to air-guitar. Another song that stays true to the band's sound and even though the mixing of the rhythm guitar seems lacking for some reason, everyone should be able to enjoy this song, regardless whether its in continuation with the album or as a stand-alone track. Imagining it in a live setting, its rhythm will make entire crowds jump together.
'Rock Zone' is the mid-point of the album. This takes you to the exact place the title suggests, into a rock zone. It's placed perfectly in the track listing in my opinion, as it's the epitome of what this album is about and leaves the listener gasping for more from the remaining tracks. This should get the heads banging more than any of the previous songs on the record. I will be hitting the repeat button on this one, that's for sure. There is a drastic tempo change yet again with the following track 'Lorelei'. This is the second power ballad on the album. It's a typical Scorpions ballad with slow guitar melodies and crooning vocals, having drum-less portions here and there. If you're a fan of such songs you'll love this, otherwise it's just something different from most of the other songs that you should try! These have been an important aspect of Scorpions' musical history and I'm really glad they've given us as many as four great final ballads. The acoustic arrangements on 'Lorelei' in particular delight me every time I listen to it. I feel it's the purest form of guitar and it doesn't get used often enough. It's all about tuning down to drop C and drop B and cranking up the distortion with most modern bands. The sweetest and purest form of guitar isn't heard much at all.
'Turn You On' is another flat-out rocker and yet another song that doesn't disappoint at all. I feel that the album reaches a crescendo of sorts with this song, as it is simply perfect. I would definitely want them to play this song on tour as it's almost guaranteed to be a brilliant live offering. Words can't even express how good this song is. You just have to check it out for yourself to believe it. Another reason why it leaves a strong impact is it's sandwiched between two ballads 'Lorelei' and the next track 'Sly'. Klaus' vocal prowess is on display yet again. Even though it's the slowest and longest song on the album, the music more than makes up for it. This is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Although vocally I would rate 'The Good Die Young' as the best of the ballads, musically this one takes the accolade. It's not 5 minutes and 16 seconds long for no reason. It is that way because it has the musical substance to fill that duration. 'Spirit Of Rock' is the song that follows. It's one of those tracks that go very well with the rest of the album without needing to stand out on its own. But I don't think that's a bad thing because I like album-oriented rock, an art that only Led Zeppelin could perfect back in the day. Every song doesn't need to be a hit single as long as it keeps the album flow going. This one does the same. This gem of an album ends with a very interesting song with a title that makes me really curious, 'The Best Is Yet To Come'. The lyrics definitely are about Scorpions' journey through the years and their love for the fans. While the other ballads are about the vocals and the music, the lyrics here is the main thing the listener would surely be hooked to. It's a fitting end to an amazing album.
Overall, I almost give this a perfect ten. I would conclude by saying that Rudolf and his band have delivered the goods, fulfilled their promise and done so in the most emphatic manner possible. If this really is the last album they would ever record, I would say with a heavy heart that it's the perfect way to say goodbye to the fans. But one wonders, is the best yet to come?To buy the CD and for more information, check out their official website.
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