Album review: Scorpions, Blackout (1982)


By Steve Newton

The cover art of Scorpions’ new album Blackout is really quite shocking. Created by Austrian painter Gottfried Heinwein, it shows a mustachioed young man with his head completely bandaged and two steel forks protruding from the white cloth at his temples, curling menacingly into his eyes. The poor guy’s agonized scream has contorted his face and shattered the pane of glass just in front of him.

But what does all this mean? Considering the fact that the vinyl beneath the portrait is more bent on aural than visual devastation, it would seem to make more sense if the three-pronged utensils were ravaging the poor fella’s ears, rather than clutching at his eyeballs.

Nevertheless, Heinwein’s art gives an appropriate hint of the extremity that lies inside, for Scorpions is the kind of band that throws everything at you and leaves nothing in reserve. Take for instance the opening track, “Blackout”. It begins with nothing but Rudolf Schenker’s buzz-saw rhythm guitar, and then right on the seventh downstroke lead guitarist Matthias Jabs surges in with a blazing vibrato moan that’s enough to send any heavy rock fan into metal heaven. And while I can’t say that every cut on the German’s band’s ninth album is as moving as the title track, songs like “Arizona” and “No One Like You” more than make up for the lackluster ones.

Unlike some of the less talented heavy metal bands around today, Scorpions don’t have to hide behind pushed-to-the-max amps and electronic gadgets, and while they do play loud, they also play clean. You can hear everything that’s being played on Blackout, and some of it is downright amazing, especially the lead guitar. While guitairsts like Randy Rhoads are sorely missed these days, it’s good to know that guys like Matthias Jabs still carry the torch of unbridled rock guitar playing.



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