So this is really it, the final SCORPIONS album? After all those years, since the formation by guitarist Rudolf Schenker in 1965 on through the release of 1972's "Lonesome Crow" album after vocalist Klaus Meine and Rudolf's little brother Michael had joined. On through great albums like "Lovedrive" and "Animal Magnetism", the breaking of the levy with "No One Like You" from "Blackout" and the commercial smashes that followed ("Love at First Sting", "Savage Amusement", "Crazy World"). Right on through the 90s and into the 21st Century with "Unbreakable" and "Humanity Hour: Hour I". It is hard to believe they've survived and thrived for so long and at the same time it is a bummer that they're finally calling it quits. But if that's the way it has got to be, then "Sting in the Tail" makes for a grand exit.
Speaking as a long time SCORPIONS fan, though one that let the last couple of albums pass him by, I can say without equivocation that "Sting in the Tail" is a very good representation of what makes the SCORPIONS a truly classic heavy metal band. I've got three words for you: hooks, guitars, and Klaus. "Sting in the Tail" in many ways defines the SCORPIONS' talent for writing choruses that stick like glue. That knack is omnipresent here, as songs like "Raised on Rock", which features a riff that sounds like a cross between "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and BLUR's "Song 2" (I'm serious), the title track, and "Slave Me", grab hold of the memory and dominate it. That is also the case with the album's four power ballads ("The Good Die Young", "Lorelei", "SLY", and "The Best is Yet to Come") all of which are definitive SCORPIONS beauties. Even those that may find them mere reformulations of a tried and true formula cannot deny the pure catchiness and passion of the songwriting. I should also note that Tarja Turunen contributes guest vocals on "The Good Die Young", just in case that's a selling point for you.
What makes "Sting in the Tail" even more recognizable as a SCORPIONS album is when those distinctive, soaring melodic leads of Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker take a song and send it rocketing into the heavens. It is something they've done so well for so many years and the impact made on "Sting in the Tail" on several tracks is nearly as forceful as that heard on many of the band's classic albums.
And can you imagine the SCORPIONS without Klaus Meine behind the microphone? Arguments can be made for the importance of equally legendary singers to the established style of numerous other acts, but one would be hard-pressed to find a better example of it than Klaus's contribution to his group's sound. His voice has held up amazingly well and on "Sting in the Tail" he is still able to take a conventional pattern and raise it to a whole other level, beloved accent and all. Just listen to what he does to the rather cheesy (and infectiously so) chorus of "Turn You On".
There is no doubt that nostalgia will play a part in one's assessment of"Sting in the Tail" and I doubt the band would argue that point. In this case though, nostalgic familiarity does not overpower the quality of the song craft. While tracks such as "No Limit" and "Rock Zone" fall well short of classic status, they are solid just the same and do little to interrupt flow or momentum. If you've always loved the SCORPIONS, then "Sting in the Tail" will do nothing to change your mind. The iconic old timers have gone out on a high note.