Review Summary: Taken By Force is yet another solid effort by Scorps in the 70’s, with Uli Roth shining brighter than ever before. But still, despite all the positives, there are some minor flaws deteriorating the whole experience.
During the mid 70’s and after recording 4 studio albums, Scorpions had to be regarded as an entirely different band compared to the first line up incarnation that wrote Lonesome Crow
. With each release the germans got meliorated, sweeping off any possible imperfection the previous recordings might had. With Virgin Killer
, Scorpions displayed a natural growth in wisdom and stature and their future in the music industry at that point looked prosperous, purely, in terms of musical evolution and progress. But the same could not be said for their financial revenues. Since the band couldn’t get any serious attention outside of Europe, every release failed to meet with the expectetions of each member. That alone explains why Scorpions changed so much after this album.
Musically speaking, the album carries on from where it’s predecessor left us. Virgin killer
had almost the same direction with In Trance
, but in that album we hear for the very first time the results of Uli Roth’s extended practicing, as he incorporated in his playing style far more advanced compositional elements. As a result, Virgin killer
had an exotic, middle eastern vibe combined with the melancholic and sorrowful tone of In Trance
. When the time was right, and the band decided to write the successor of Virgin killer
, as they set in motion the writing procedures, they took a bold decision, to drag the compositions a step further and experiment a little bit more. Inevitably,the weight of the writing process fell in the shoulders of Uli Roth. Roth’s contribution here is huge. He takes full credit for writing four songs out of the total eight, as also, writing along with Monika Dannemann the lyrics of the epic ballad We’ll Burn The Sky
Due to it's unconventional nature, Taken By Force
, might be perceived by the audience as being somehow less brutal than the two previous albums. Although that point of view is veritable, the presented material is still provided with a vigorous thrust. Scorpions at that time seemed to have almost completely forsaken any effort of writing anything that would sound usual, straightforward or accessible to the wider audience, something which can only be confusing since all of their previous records were a financial failure. But Scorpions insisted. And they were vindicated, as the album provides us with some of the most beautiful songs in the band’s catalog. Streamrock Fever
is the album’s opener and as with the previous album-opening songs, Scorpions continue the same trend: Bursting out of the gate with brute force, playing fiercely but without ever crossing the lines of unconventional experimentantion.
Uli Roth is at his best here. He is allowed with enough creative freedom to express his Hendrix-isms and with his wider range of knowledge and his experience, he’s riffing and soloing like a madman. The Sails Of Charon
is quite possibly his greatest creation during the years he stayed with Scorpions. Every time I check the official, so-called lists of “the greatest guitar solos of all time”, it amazes me how his introductory soloing performance is always absent. The intro is truly memorable and you only need to hear or actually possess some knowledge over the instrument, in order to understand how vitally essential that solo really is, not to mention of course how crucial it was to the evolution of the Neo-Classical Metal genre. At such high playing speeds, Roth’s control over the wah pedal combined with his accuracy and precision over the frets is jaw-dropping, giving breathtaking results. It feels like a musical whirlwind, a tornado of notes and the listener is trapped inside the core. What makes this piece of work all the more unique is the fact that Roth’s ability allowes him to play each note crystal clear
even when he plays so fast. In fact, you can actually hear every single note. The way the solo is sounding is addictive simply enough because it shares nothing in common with most of the modern-ordinary shredding sounds. In addition, the amp effects that Roth chooses to use do nothing more but enhance the already amazing experience.
Roth might be glowing with his performance but Taken By Force
is not a one man's show. He is accompanied by a group of fine musicians, with each and everyone of them bringing something of their own. Meine brings personality and his powerful vocals resound with energy and conviction. Rudolf Scheinker’s rhythm guitar playing is solid as always and the last track of the album is one of the greatest songs he has ever written. Herman Rarebell makes his debut as the bands drummer and he is easily the best drummer the band ever had up to that point. Francis Buchholz unfortunately seems isolated, since this is not a bass oriented album.
While Roth’s performance is flawless, the album as a whole is not. If we examine this album closer and more carefully, we will find out that the tracks I’ve got To Be Free
and The Riot Of Your Time
are pretty weak. It seems to me as these two songs were abandoned during the early stages of their conception and the band used draft versions on the album. Other than that, the track He’s A Woman She’s A Man
, apart from it’s weird name and the great Proto-Thrash riff in the beginning, doesn’t seem potentially capable of offering anything more. The album’s last track Born To Touch Your Feelings
is one of the most bizarre cases I have ever encounter. Although the song is truly great, (it feels like a remnant from the period the band wrote the classic In Trance
) an effect during the last two minutes of the song spoils the wonderful outro. I never understood why Scorpions decided to add a vocal overdub. Could it be because of their experimenting mood ? That’s possible. But the fact remains that the final result didn’t justify their (good) intentions.
Despite the inconsistencies, Taken By Force
is yet another hard Rock gem from a band whose work during the 70’s was and still is underestimated. A record which is definitely worthy of checking not only from the fans of Scorpions but also from every fan of classic Rock.
We’ll Burn The Sky
The Sails Of Charon