ROCK BELIEVER is the 21st studio album from Scorpions, released in 2022.
With the arrival of the year 2022, it's now officially been 50 years since the release of the band's debut album, LONESOME CROW. Feel old yet? Either way, there's no denying this heavy metal quintet from Germany remains one of the most impressive and longest running rock bands in the world.
The Scorpions' current lineup consists of vocalist Klaus Meine, guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs, drummer Mikkey Dee, and bassist Pawel Maciwoda. Of these musicians, Meine and Schenker have been with the band since their recordings began. Jabs has been in the band since around 1979. Maciwoda has been in since 2003, and Dee, formerly of Motorhead, joined the band in 2016, replacing former drummer James Kottak.
The Scorpions' story has been a long and interesting one producing some of the greatest classic hard rock/heavy metal hits of all time. The band also hasn't been afraid to branch out musically, sometimes with mixed results. But there have been far more hits than misses, and despite the band claiming they'd be retiring around 2010 (does any band ever mean it when they say they're doing that?), they've persevered. ROCK BELIEVER marks the band's first release of studio material since 2015's RETURN TO FOREVER.
What's truly surprising about Scorpions music is how the group has almost always managed to deliver quality music. Many bands that drag out their careers in the studio and on the live stage struggle and suffer, with a noticeable decline in the quality of recordings and performances. While I wasn't the hugest fan of the band's last studio album, RETURN TO FOREVER, the subsequent live performances and the band's concentrated efforts still shined through more than many of their contemporaries, many of whom started their careers long after these German rockers. So.... how's ROCK BELIEVER?
I'm happy to say ROCK BELIEVER is a kick-ass album, easily the best from the band in many years, and quite possibly their best studio effort since the turn of the millennium. There's no orchestral accompaniment or experimentation with dance music here, nor are their attempts at blatant commercialism. It's a fantastic throwback that hearkens back to the band's classic 80s sound, perhaps better than anything that's come since the Decade of Decadence. I'm pleased to announce that there's not a weak track in the bunch, and fans of the band will be happy to hear them sounding the way they should. If you didn't know better, you'd swear this was produced by Dieter Dierks back in the 80s, even though neither is actually true. Relentless yet diverse between the heavy and the melodic, it's a studio effort that proves these guys aren't ready to retire after all. And you know what? If they can continue to make music this good in the studio and back it up on the live stage, I'm good with that. I think you will be too.
ROCK BELIEVER will make a believer out of you. Klaus and company aren't done doing what they do, and that's just fine with this headbanger. The album transports the listener back to the Decade of Decadence, yet it never feels like a "copycat" album of those older days either. That's why it's hands down one of my favorite albums of 2022 so far. Highly recommended!