Continuing the aggressive production values of `In Trance', the Scorpions' fourth album delivers a further dose of ear-shredding heavy rock, with wailing guitars and piercing vocals thrust across a throbbing rhythm section. Yet `Virgin Killer' is more upbeat than its predecessor, moving away from the introspective shades that colour the band's early work and seeing them edge closer to the metal monster they would evolve into during the following decade. Opening with the incessant foot-stomp of `Pictured Life', wonderfully embellished by the rolling twin-guitars of Uli Jon Roth and Rudolph Schenker, following with the excellent, driving rock of `Catch Your Train' and moving effortlessly into the delightful `In Your Park' (a prime example of the band's abilities when it comes to writing ballads), VK could rapidly be considered the Scorpions' finest album to date. Unfortunately, even though `Backstage Queen' is perfectly adequate, it doesn't match what has come before and the Roth-penned title track is too clumsy and overblown to be taken seriously, although there is the ever-present, highly-impressive guitar work to improve matters.
Roth takes over vocal duties on two tracks, the first being the screechy, chaotic and shamelessly Hendrix-derived `Hell Cat'; by this stage, Roth's input on VK is not nearly as impressive as it was on `In Trance'. Thankfully, `Crying Days', a Schenker/Meine number, is gorgeous, it's wistful mood enhanced beautifully by some fine guitar work and excellent vocals. And Roth redeems himself and then some with the brooding, trippy heaviness of `Polar Nights' (again he wears his love of Hendrix on his sleeve) and the delightful closing ballad `Yellow Raven'.
`Virgin Killer' lacks the overpowering atmospherics and impressive consistency of `In Trance', but has more than enough in its grooves to proclaim it a prime example of Seventies heavy rock.