Scorpions were one of the most integral and influential bands of the ‘80s; a band with a booming sound and leather-clad aesthetic that was perfectly exemplary of the arena rock and heavy metal genres without overkilling it as some bands did. Their glory days were a fun time for rock and roll as a whole, but as anyone knows the genre has taken a backseat in recent years. There’s a few new prospects that have showed promise and been highlighted as the potential resurrectors of rock, and while it is important that the young talent keeps flowing the veterans still have to be around for as long as they can to maintain the standard.
With a title like Rock Believer, that seems to be exactly what Scorpions have set out to do with their follow-up to 2015’s Return to Forever. “Gas In The Tank” sets the tone with a hard whack of “Big City Nights”-esque vintage Scorps, carrying over into the stage-ready “Roots In My Boots” and channeling into the timelessly melodic “Knock ‘em Dead”. The title track is another arena-made throwback so perfectly preserved you’d swear it came out of 1982- precisely what the Scorps set out to do with this album. From there we get mild reggae (think Payola$) vibes on “Shining Of Your Soul” and hypnotic fist-pumping on “Seventh Sun”; “Hot and Cold” falls squarely into the box of standard Scorps metal while “When I Lay My Bones To Rest” is a louder, more manic rocker.
The single “Peacemaker” once more demonstrates the Scorpions’ enduring knack for catchiness + heaviness, a formula that isn’t always easy to execute the right way. “Call Of The Wild” slows things down to a crawl, setting the stage for a trademark ballad that no Scorps album would be complete without with “When You Know (Where You Come From)”. This fittingly closes out the regular album, although with the deluxe edition there’s a few extra numbers: The mean, old-school pedal-to-the-metal groove of “Shoot For Your Heart”, the doomsday prophesying of “When Tomorrow Comes” and the summoning call of “Unleash The Beast”. We get one more radio rocker with “Crossing Borders”, then close out for good with an acoustic rendition of “When You Know”- an ending so suitable it had to be done twice.
However many rock believers this album creates is yet to be determined, but it does successfully reassert the standard of old-school arena rock for current bands that want to replicate it- or at least incorporate it into a more modern sound. Some of the formulas are played out and some lyrics trite and cliche if one has to criticize anything about this record (that is to be expected of an ‘80s era band to a certain degree), but the sonic essence of what the Scorpions and numerous other bands of their era are about is fully intact. That, if nothing else should give the old that grew up on Scorpions and their ilk a flood of fond memories, and the young, aspiring rockers hearing this amidst the current musical landscape something to believe in.