Review Summary: The cross they're bearing is no more
Scorpions objectively need no detailed introduction. They are renowned for their contribution in the traditional rock scene of the 70's, as well as their tremendous commercial success in the 80's. They became the most beloved band of millions of fans around the globe, marking their own unique route in rock history.
After an impressive career, though, the band would undergo a rather lukewarm decade, the 90's. Scorpions started to sound more like themselves again in 2004 with the album ''Unbreakable''. Line-up was once again steady and quite decent, their success kept strong and inspiration wouldn't mind paying a visit now and then, if only triggered by some help by the band's friends.
Scorpions were always an active band (after all, the problem is making them stop) so ''Unbreakable's'' descendant wouldn't take long to arrive. In 2008 people would greet their new album, ''Humanity: Hour 1''. It seemed like Scorpions had a more ambitious concept in mind, one that went a bit astray from their previous lyrical themes.
The subject, no matter how irrelevant it seems at times, revolves around a fictional period of time, when robots and people coexist. It's better than it sounds, though. The group used its tools, Desmond Child and John 5, to write catchy yet heavy songs (for Scorpions' standards always, don't expect Bathory-like riffs in this record), with memorable refrains and less cheesy lyrics. Actually, they manage to pull off a great hard rock album, with songs that would become classics, bring back memories and create new fans, while incorporating new elements in their sound.
The opening track sums up wonderfully the album's overall sound: heavy, well constructed, with really good performances and harsher solos. Klaus Meine's vocals are stellar once again, either he sings about rising out of flames, conflict between heaven and hell, or his damaged heart. The guitar duet, Mathias Jabs and Rudolf Shenker know their place. The first expresses himself on top of the other's patterns and musical sheets, or they would cooperate similarly to a well functioning machine. Bassist Paweł Mąciwoda may not make himself apparent at all times, but along with drummer James Kottak, they provide a steady rhythm section for the band to build their songs on.
Of course, what couldn't be missing from a Scorpions album are the rock ballads we loved them for. Almost half the songs in Humanity: Hour 1 represent the softer, mellower side of Scorpions. What undoubtedly steals the show, though, is the closing track, Humanity, a heavy ballad that carries the very meaning of the album and works as a warning to all human kind, f-ing behave yourselves, for god's sake! Another notable ballad -and personal favorite - is Your Last Song, where Klaus knows this is the last song he writes for his beloved, because he can't take it no more.
In conclusion, why is this album good? Why should one bother to give it a try? The answer is simple, while we can find all elements that made Scorpions famous, there's also a heavier part of their music to discover, with some -even if only a few - new elements. It's a decent album, which requires nothing to be added or deleted. It's an album that finally restores our faith in them after a big false step that lasted a dozen of years. Scorpions were back for good, and as hungry as they could be after forty years on stage.