Scorpions: ‘Rock Believer’

Released on February 25, 2022 (Vertigo)

The song title (“Gas In The Tank”) for the opening track on the Scorpions‘ latest studio album Rock Believer is very appropriate because that is exactly what I was thinking when I saw that the veteran German rockers would be releasing a new record about seven years after 2015’s Return To Forever. Did the Scorpions have any gas left in their tank when it came to coming up with new material? I think it’s a fair question considering that 73 year old guitarist Rudolf Schenker started the band 57 years ago (way back in 1965) and two of his bandmates — 74 year old singer Klaus Meine and 66 year old lead guitarist Matthias Jabs — have each been in the Scorpions line-up for about half a century (53 years for Meine and 44 years for Jabs).

As it turns out just from listening to the opening track, the Scorpions still have tons of gas left in their tank as “Gas In The Tank” sounds like a classic track from the band’s 1980s heyday. After hearing that song, my only remaining question was really whether the Scorpions could deliver an entire album with tracks of that quality. Just like with Return To Forever, the Scorpions elected to release a shitload of songs on Rock Believer rather than their ten best ones. Return To Forever originally had 12 songs and an additional seven bonus tracks were added for the expanded version of the album about six months after the album’s original release date. Rock Believer has 11 songs with an additional five (including an acoustic version of one of the first 11 tracks) on the bonus disc. I thought that the Scorpions weren’t able to deliver a consistent output on Return To Forever so was skeptical when I saw that Rock Believer had a total of 16 songs including the bonus tracks.

As it turns out, the answer to whether the Scorpions could deliver an entire album with tracks of the same quality as the opener “Gas In The Tank” is “yes” for the most part. The Scorpions did a great job at capturing their signature sound from back in the 80’s on Rock Believer. In fact, when I listened to Rock Believer for the first time, I thought that the Scorpions might have come up with their best album since Crazy World until the entire momentum of the album crashed and burned with the chorus portion of the ballad “Shining of Your Soul.” Usually, one can expect a chorus to be slightly more upbeat and catchy than the verses but with “Shining of Your Soul”, the Scorpions grind the track to a halt with the chorus and end up ruining things for me despite some compelling verses. “Seventh Sun” follows and is a slower plodder type track that is unable to pick Rock Believer back up. I actually stopped listening to the CD the second time out after hearing those two songs. It was simply too painful. Enough was enough. And to this day, I have a hard time getting through the awful very slow chorus in “Shining of Your Soul” but I now do so (or just skip the song) because I know the rest of the album is for the most part quite solid.

It was only a few months ago that I started listening to Rock Believer again, and Klaus Meine and company really do a kick ass job of delivering old school 80’s era Scorpions tracks. The German rockers are not reinventing the wheel on Rock Believer by any means but mainly delivering what you would for the most part expect from them. The highlight on Rock Believer is undoubtedly the ballad “When You Know (Where You Come From)” which I would place as the second best ballad that the Scorps have come up with (and they have come up with lost of good ones) after “Wind of Change” which happens to be one of the best selling singles of all-time. As an extra bonus, the ballad “When You Know (Where You Come From)” is also offered in an acoustic format on the bonus disc. Aside from the opener “Shoot From Your Heart” on the bonus disc and the aforementioned killer ballad, the rest of the songs on that bonus disc are exactly where they should be — bonus tracks that couldn’t make the cut on the actual album.

Overall, the Scorpions have delivered a strong overall record with Rock Believer and they have done a great job of recapturing their classic 80’s sound. At this point with any legacy act such as the Scorpions, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, I am happy when the group can deliver one killer new song and a bunch of other good ones and that’s exactly what the Scorpions have done on Rock Believer with the fantastic ballad “When You Know (Where You Come From)” and a bunch of other solid tracks such as “Gas In The Tank”, “Roots In My Boots”, “Peacemaker” and “Shoot From Your Heart.” The Scorpions continue to prove that they do indeed have a lot of gas left in their tank.

Track List (CD1):
01. Gas In The Tank
02. Roots In My Boots
03. Knock ‘Em Dead
04. Rock Believer
05. Shining of Your Soul
06. Seventh Sun
07. Hot And Cold
08. When I Lay My Bones To Rest
09. Peacemaker
10. Call of The Wild
11. When You Know (Where You Come From)
Bonus Tracks (CD2):
12. Shoot For Your Heart
13. When Tomorrow Comes
14. Unleash The Beast
15. Crossing Borders
16. When You Know (Where You Come From) (acoustic version)

Band Members:
Klaus Meine – vocals, backing vocals
Rudolf Schenker – guitars, backing vocals
Matthias Jabs – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars, slide guitar
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass
Mikkey Dee – drums

Additional Musicians:
Ingo Powitzer – additional guitars and bass, guitar solo (13), additional background vocals, claps
Jakob Himmelein – additional background vocals, claps, recording assistant
Alex Malek – additional background vocals, claps
Pitti Hecht – percussion
Hans-Martin Buff – additional background vocals, claps

Produced by Scorpions and Hans-Martin Buff
Recorded by Hans-Martin Buff
Mixed by Michael Ilbert
Mastered by Tom Porcell Woznik

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, July 2022

Scorpions‘ “Rock Believer” video:

Scorpions‘ “When You Know (Where You Come From)” video:

Scorpions‘ “Shining of Your Soul” audio: