Album Review – Scorpions / Rock Believer (2022)

Believe in the one and only Scorpions.

Seven years after the release of Return to Forever, which is by the way the longest gap between studio albums in their career, Germany’s Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock institution Scorpions is back in action with their nineteenth opus, entitled Rock Believer, the undisputed proof those German rockers still have a lot of fuel to burn after so many decades on the road. Recorded by Jakob Himmelein and Hans-Martin Buff, produced by Hans-Martin Buff at Peppermint Park Studios, mixed by Michael Ilbert at Hansa Studios, and displaying a beyond classic artwork by Jeff Thrower, Rock Believer is the band’s first-ever album to feature Mikkey Dee (famous for his time with the unparalleled Motörhead) on drums, who replaced James Kottak in 2016, adding an endless amount of adrenaline to the already iconic music brought into being by vocalist Klaus Meine, guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker, and bassist Paweł Mąciwoda, making us all believe in rock music even when a good part of our society says it’s already dead and gone.

There’s no better way to kick off a rockin’ album than with the excellent Gas in the Tank, where Klaus, Matthias and Rudolf are on fire from the very first second while Mikkey adds a very welcome, dirty Motörhead vibe to this lecture in classic Rock N’ Roll; and those German rockers keep putting the pedal to the metal in Roots in My Boots, with Rudolf and Matthias delivering sheer awesomeness through their axes. Put differently, it’s old school Scorpions without sounding outdated at all. Knock ‘Em Dead is a mid-tempo Hard Rock feast by Scorpions where Mikkey dictates the pace supported by the low-tuned bass by Paweł while Matthias kicks some serious ass with his riffs and solos, whereas the title-track Rock Believer is perfect for their sold-out arena concerts, with Klaus declaiming the song’s inspiring lyrics beautifully (“You start to crawl until you walk / You make a scream and learn to talk / You discover life on every day / From the first day you were born / You walked a lifeline of your own / And if you always keep the faith”). Then we have Shining of Your Soul, darker but at the same time very melodic and groovy thanks to the pleasant vibe crafted by the band’s guitar duo accompanied by Mikkey’s beats, while the sinister bass lines by Paweł kick off the also groovy Seventh Sun, showcasing another flawless performance by Klaus amidst a wall of Rock N’ Roll sounds.

Back to a more dancin’ sonority, it’s time for Klaus to lead his henchmen in Hot and Cold, sounding like if it was taken from one of their 80’s albums (not to mention its beyond catchy chorus), whereas in When I Lay My Bones to Rest we’re treated to more of their rockin’ poetry (“Here comes a brother from another mother / Storming out into the light / We’re speeding up the pace, cutting to the chase / It’s gonna be a hell of a ride”), matching perfectly with the song’s undisputed Rock N’ Roll spearheaded by the flammable guitars by Matthias and Rudolf. Peacemaker is another fast, thrilling ride by the quintet that will sound fantastic when played live where Klaus once again steals the spotlight with his unparalleled Hard Rock vocals, while Call of the Wild is less visceral and more “romantic” than its predecessors. It’s not a bad song, but it lacks the same punch as the other songs in the album. After that it’s time for When You Know (Where You Come From), a beautiful ballad to put a proper ending to the album that will surely be added to the band’s “acoustic” set during their live performances, and if you go for the deluxe version of the album you’ll have a blast with five amazing bonus tracks, with Shoot for Your Heart being by far the most exciting of all. To be honest, this song alone is worth the investment in the deluxe edition.

Rock Believer, which is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, can be purchased from your favorite retailer or streamed in its entirety by clicking HERE, and if you consider yourself a true rock believer you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and also subscribe to their YouTube channel. In a nutshell, one of the trailblazers of Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock is ready to kick your ass once again to the sound of their awesome new album, proving that not only they still got it, but also that they’re far from calling it quits. And if you keep believing in the one and only Scorpions, you can rest assured our beloved Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: Gas in the Tank, Roots in My Boots, When I Lay My Bones to Rest, Peacemaker and Shoot for Your Heart.

Worst moments of the album: Call of the Wild.

Released in 2022 Vertigo Records

Track listing
1. Gas in the Tank 3:40
2. Roots in My Boots 3:17
3. Knock ‘Em Dead 4:11
4. Rock Believer 3:57
5. Shining of Your Soul 3:57
6. Seventh Sun 5:30
7. Hot and Cold 4:12
8. When I Lay My Bones to Rest 3:08
9. Peacemaker 2:56
10. Call of the Wild 5:21
11. When You Know (Where You Come From) 4:22

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
12. Shoot for Your Heart 4:01
13. When Tomorrow Comes 3:47
14. Unleash the Beast 4:17
15. Crossing Borders 3:38
16. When You Know (Where You Come From) (Acoustic version) 3:44

Band members
Klaus Meine – vocals
Matthias Jabs – guitars
Rudolf Schenker – guitars, backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass
Mikkey Dee – drums

Guest musicians
Ingo Powitzer – additional guitars and bass, guitar solo on “When Tomorrow Comes”, backing vocals, claps
Hans-Martin Buff – backing vocals, claps
Jakob Himmelein – backing vocals, claps
Alex Malek – backing vocals, claps
Pitti Hecht – percussion

Concert Review – Megadeth & Scorpions (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 09/22/2017)

The city of Toronto was beautifully taken by storm by two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock on the last day of the summer, and the result was absolutely fantastic.

OPENING ACT: Megadeth

When this Crazy World Tour 2017 was announced a few months ago, I instantly thought about how amazing it would be to witness on the same night two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock playing some of their biggest classics (as well as a few newer songs) at what’s in my humble opinion one of the best and most pleasant venues in the world to watch any type of concert (and I’ve been to several different ones in distinct parts of the world), the Torontonian amphitheater now known as Budweiser Stage. Well, it was even better than anyone could have expected, with the combination of two bands full of energy and excited to please the crowd, thousands of fans eager for some rockin’ music, and a weather that, for the very last day of summer, was beyond perfect, making the whole night truly memorable.

As the opening act, or maybe I should call them co-headliners as they’re not your average band, we had the absolute pleasure of enjoying American Thrash/Speed Metal heroes MEGADETH. Spearheaded by the unstoppable Mr. Dave Mustaine, Megadeth were still promoting their latest installment, the excellent Dystopia, released last year, but only one song from the album (its title-track) was played during the show. The setlist was pretty much a selection of their biggest hits with a huge focus on their 1990 masterpiece Rust In Piece, kicking off the concert with the blazing Hangar 18, and also featuring from that classic album the hits Take No Prisoners, Tornado of Souls (my favorite of the show) and, closing their performance, a song that needs no introduction, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.

And obviously “Megadave” and his henchmen David Ellefson, Kiko Loureiro (who proved to be the guitarist Mustaine needed by his side) and Dirk Verbeuren played every song to perfection, with the background screen complementing the music in a fun and exciting manner. For instance, the Nascar images used as a background for Mechanix and the official video for Dystopia (another fantastic moment of the show) played while the band executed the song were spot-on to keep the fans mesmerized and in total sync with the band. In addition, everyone at the venue singing the power ballad A Tout Le Monde guided by Mustaine was just beautiful, and the smile on his face after that moment was awesome. Now, as usual, let’s patiently wait until we can see such distinct band performing live again in our beautiful Toronto.

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Mechanix
Take No Prisoners
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Tornado of Souls
Dystopia
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead guitars, rhythm guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, backing vocals
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

SCORPIONS

If the venue wasn’t fully packed during Megadeth’s kick-ass performance, things changed considerably a few minutes before German Hard Rock institution SCORPIONS hit the stage with their flawless setlist, but before the concert started I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with other fans close to where I was (which was right in front of the stage), in special one father with his 13-year old son. The name of the boy is T Bone Bentley, he’s a very talented drummer who loves metal and rock, and you can check him smashing his drums on his official YouTube channel (together with his dad), playing songs like Iron Maiden’s all-time classic “Run to the Hills” and Judas Priest’s metal anthem “Breaking the Law”. When I see little fellas like T Bone and their passion for heavy music, my hope for a better future for mankind gets renovated, so don’t waste your time and go check his YouTube videos. They’re surely going to make your day a lot better.

Back to the concert, it was around 8:30pm when the iconic vocalist Klaus Meine, the flammable guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker, the talented bassist Paweł Mąciwoda and the one and only drummer Mikkey Dee hit the stage with an avalanche of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll hits, starting with a fantastic song from their 2015 album Return to Forever, the rockin’ Going Out With a Bang, already showing the night was going to be insanely fun. Let’s say that the first part of the show worked more like a “warm-up”, with the band jamming and rocking nonstop, generating a very good vibe and showing why they’re still alive and kicking after so many decades on the road. That first segment of the show had as its highlights the classic The Zoo, the fairly new but amazing We Built This House, and from their mini-acoustic set (including a weird but useful drum kit by Mikkey) I would say the touching ballad Send Me an Angel definitely stole the spotlight.

After that, Mr. Klaus Meine simply introduced one of the band’s biggest and most beautiful classics, Wind of Change, obviously hypnotizing all of us with the song’s renowned whistling, followed by another sensational new song titled Rock ‘n’ Roll Band and their awesome tribute to the most badass rocker that this world will ever see, Lemmy Kilmister, playing a cover version of Motörhead’s hit Overkill. Right after that, Mikkey offered us all an amazing drum solo (which put the little T Bone into a state of pure ecstasy), while the rest of the band was getting ready for a flawless Hard Rock attack comprised of nothing more, nothing less than Blackout, Big City Nights, No One Like You, Still Loving You (what a lovely moment of the show!) and Rock You Like a Hurricane. What else can you ask for, right?

Before this review of the show is over, I just wanted to mention two things that truly caught my attention during the concert, one in a very positive way, while the other was quite sad.  First, I was completely impressed with the fact that Mr. Rudolf Schenker is almost 70 years old and he keeps running frantically around the stage, screaming and interacting with the fans, and playing his guitar as if he was in his early 30’s. That was plain awesome, and definitely an inspiration for me and lots of other fans on how you can get old but remain young at heart, enjoying life until the end (just like Lemmy did, by the way). On the other hand, while Mr. Schenker was a role model to all of us, there were a few spoiled bi… I mean, girls, that thought that just because they’re (still) young and pretty they can do whatever they want, including being rude, disrespectful and annoying to anyone around them. One of them was so disrespectful to a guy next to me, elbowing him and pretending he was harassing her, to the point everyone close to that scene even stooped enjoying the concert for a few moments until security finally (and fortunately) took that stupid Barbie doll away. I hope when she gets old, and she will, she learns how to be a better person and how to respect other people. Well, Little T Bone is only 13 and he already knows how to behave in a rock and metal concert, as well as other kids that attended the show with their parents. It’s just a matter of learning what true respect is at home, right? And I hope that next time Scorpions take Toronto by storm with another faultless performance like that, that irksome girl is somewhere else, like at a Justin Bieber concert. Let the real bands for the real fans, lady.

Setlist
Intro
Going Out With a Bang
Make It Real
The Zoo
Coast to Coast
Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train
We Built This House
Delicate Dance (with Ingo Powitzer)
Always Somewhere / Eye of the Storm / Send Me an Angel
Wind of Change
Rock ‘n’ Roll Band
Overkill (Motörhead cover)
Drum Solo
Blackout
Big City Nights

Encore:
No One Like You
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane

Band members
Klaus Meine – lead vocals
Matthias Jabs – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars
Rudolf Schenker – rhythm guitars, lead guitars, backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass guitar
Mikkey Dee – drums

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