Top positive review
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The Sting is Back
on 20 August 2007
Finally, after more than twenty years, the Scorpions have released an album of genuine quality! Predecessor `Unbreakable' gave fans renewed hope after many years of disappointing albums, but there were still throwaway numbers among the great hard rockers. And though no song on `Humanity' will force its way into the canon of Scorpions classics, almost every one is a winner.
The news that `Humanity' was to be a "project album", with all the Prog Rock pomposity that the term implies, must have shaken many a fan's optimism. Desmond Child being named as producer after Dieter Dierks fine work on `Unbreakable' undoubtedly hammered a further nail into the coffin of hope. Yet any fears have definitely been misplaced; for starters, the concept (dealing with "humanity", surprisingly enough) is so loose as to be non-existent, the Scorpions delivering the same lyrical content they always have. More crucially, Child has given the album a clear, well-balanced and muscular yet accessible sound that suits the modern incarnation of the Scorpions perfectly. Moreover, his pop-rock sensibilities have been an invaluable contribution to the songwriting, with Rudolph Schenker apparently taking something of a backseat (according to the credits) for the first time in the band's career.
The first half of the album is easily the better: `Hour 1' is powerful headbanging number which, along with mid-paced rocker `You're Lovin' Me to Death' and the driving footstomp of `321' sees the band utilising a more modern, nu-metal guitar sound that suits them well. `The Game of Life' and `We Were Born to Fly' are in possession of soaring, catchy choruses the band were once so adept at writing and even the formulaic ballad `The Future Never Dies' works well thanks to a sweeping orchestration and a nice retro guitar break.
Unfortunately, the magic of the first half isn't maintained throughout and whilst the songs are of sufficient quality to keep it enjoyable, a sense of unoriginality seeps in. Nevertheless, `Love Will Keep Us Alive' is a charming ballad, `We Will Rise Again' an uplifting hard rocker and `Love is War' a nicely balanced light-and-shade number with a fine guitar solo. Only `Your Last Song' falls flat, the cheese factor being too much to bear. The album goes out on a highpoint, though, with the serious heavy metal of `The Cross' (one of the best songs the band's recorded in recent times) and the excellent title track closing proceedings.
I've waited two months before writing this so as to allow my initial euphoria to subside because otherwise I would have gone completely over-the-top with praise. When I first heard `Humanity', I was overcome with joy; it's not up to the standard of their 80s albums, but after so many disappointments, so many flaccid and half-hearted albums full of mediocrity, it was an absolute delight to hear the mighty Scorpions actually packing a real punch and delivering an album worthy of their name. Yes, it's a bit clichéd and may sound dated to modern metal fans, but the Scorpions are not Queens of the Stone Age; this is classic, timeless heavy rock delivered with sophistication and passion. If that's your thing then look no further.