Rock Believer

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

1. Gas In The Tank
2. Roots In My Boots
3. Knock 'Em Dead
4. Rock Believer
5. Shining Of Your Soul
6. Seventh Sun
7. Hot And Cold
8. When I Lay My Bones To Rest
9. Peacemaker
10. Call Of The Wild
11. When You Know (Where You Come From)
12. Shoot For Your Heart
13. When Tomorrow Comes
14. Unleash The Beast
15. Crossing Borders

The list of rock bands that have managed to release a brand-new album fifty years after their debut record is not exactly overflowing with names. The list of bands that have released a new album fifty years later and managed to not sound like tired retreads of past glories or sad attempts at modernizing their music is even shorter. SCORPIONS have avoided both pitfalls with "Rock Believer", their first new album in seven years. The rock icons revisit many of the sounds that fueled their superstardom's peak. The level of energy and songcraft present though keep those tracks from feeling tired, and perhaps for the first time in several records, there are even a few anthems that hold up next to the classics we've been re-purchasing on multiple formats over the decades.

"Gas In The Tank", the album's opening salvo, immediately re-positions the band as masters of the energetic rock anthem. The song has an inherent catchiness that fits in snugly within the horde of crowd pleasers that have been longtime staples of the band's live set. The beloved hallmarks of the band's sound are omnipresent, with Klaus Meine's vocals continuing to hit that perfect mix of triumph and wistfulness, and Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jab's guitar work once again delivering tastefully blistering shred with their solos. Thankfully, while the list of legacy bands that put together an impressive opening track and then coasted throughout the remainder of their latest record is lengthy, SCORPIONS have enough gas to fuel them through "Rock Believer"'s long haul.

The high-energy rock anthems continue to come throughout the record. The opening track is matched by subsequent rockers such as "Roots In My Boots", "Hot And Cold", and "Peacemaker", which has Meine deliver a snarling vocal performance on the chorus of the album's most overtly metallic track. "Rock Believer"'s title track is the most perfect slice of '80s-style glam metal that has been released in the 2000's. It puts everyone paying tribute to the Sunset Strip's glory days to shame with its sublime mix of earnest rock balladry, sleazy guitar solos, and cowbell from drummer Mikkey Dee (MOTÖRHEAD),making his studio debut with the band after several years of live performances.

"Shining Of Your Soul" sees the band settling into a midtempo groove, but even that is fueled by some great rock guitar riffs. The band proves capable of stomping heaviness that is evocative of "The Zoo" with "Seventh Sun"'s thumping bass lines and pounding drums, and "When I Lay My Bones To Rest" comes off as a dirty MOTÖRHEAD-style rocker. The band does deliver one of their trademark ballads with "When You Know (Where You Come From)" , though they save that for the album's closing track. Otherwise, the driving force that motivates SCORPIONS here seems to be a pure mission of expertly crafted slabs of well-done hard rock, delivering that in droves.

It's a testament to the band's self-confidence that on the fiftieth anniversary of their 1972 debut album, "Lonesome Crow", the band's course of action was to simply do the things that they have always done best throughout their existence. "Rock Believer" serves as a comforting reminder that SCORPIONS are still capable of generating catchy rock anthems in their later years.

Author: Jason Roche
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