One does an aural double take upon hearing the opening bars of “Raised on Rock,” the first track from the Scorpions Sting in the Tail
. Rudolph Schenker'
s opening power chord riff and guitar tone sound like something from 1976’s Virgin Killer
, or 1979’s Lovedrive
. When he’s joined by Matthias Jabs
on their trademark twin-guitar attack, and by Klaus Meine
's instantly recognizable vocal, the effect is complete, the sound familiar, but somehow not nostalgic. The riff was just a quick, humorous nod to history rather an attempt to revel in it. Sting in the Tail
is reported to be the final Scorpions
studio effort after 44 years. The band that vaulted to the top of the '80s metal scene with its balance of monstrously loud rock anthems (“The Zoo,” “Blackout”) and infectious power ballads (“Wind of Change,” “Still Loving You”) has decided to give it one last, honest shot at what they do best. There’s more of the former on this offering, from the aforementioned and boogie-metal party rocker that is the title track, to “Slave Me,” “No Limit,” and the amphetamine overdrive of “Rock Zone,” "Spirit of Rock," and “Turn You On” (particularly from the rhythm section of bassist Pavel Maciwoda
and drummer James Kottak
’s voice is in great shape; he wails and howls without any sign of wear. Another band trademark, the “gang vocal” chorus, is apparent on all the rockers. The power ballads here, “Loreli” and “Sly,” follow their formula of slowly ramping up with undeniably catchy melody, a meld of near classical form with hard rock dynamics, and multi-layered guitar and vocal textures. The songwriting here is characteristically tight, the arrangements and bridges are sophisticated, the production doesn’t give in to modern clichés, and the band comes off sounding like no one but a renewed version of themselves. As a farewell, Sting in the Tail
is an album the Scorpions
and their fans can be proud of.