SCORPIONS – Humanity: Hour I

SCORPIONS - Humanity: Hour I
  • 7.5/10
    SCORPIONS - Humanity: Hour I - 7.5/10


Release Date: May 25, 2007

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Truly amazing, but 2007 marks the 35th anniversary of the Scorpions’ debut album, Lonesome Crow. Some 70 million albums later, these crazy Germans are still at it with a concept album of sorts entitled Humanity – Hour 1. The theme of the album is “based on an original concept by Sir Desmond Child (one of the co-producers of this album) and futurist Liam Carl” whereby it “predicts a world torn apart by a civil war between humans and robots. This apocalyptic nightmare serves as a warning shot to all mankind …” and mankind’s “only hope of survival is to reclaim” its “humanity.” Pretty deep stuff for a band that used to pen songs like “Another Piece Of Meat” and “Bad Boys Running Wild,” eh?

After jacking around with a sound and formula that worked incredibly well for a number of years, the Scorpions returned to a heavier, rawer sound in 2004 with a very solid effort via the album Unbreakable. The only problem was Unbreakable shockingly went Unnoticed by the masses in the music industry, which sheepishly includes Metal/Hard Rock enthusiasts. Go figure, as that album’s commercial failure really made NO freakin’ sense at all. Shame on you, by the way, if you find yourself guilty of having ignored that release too. That said, the Scorpions worked hard this time at marketing Humanity – Hour 1 during its creation to ensure a bit of a fuss developed prior to its release. Word on the street was that the Scorpions intended and were able to “recreate” that sound and attitude so loved by their fans and apparent in albums like Blackout and Love At First Sting. Plenty of old friend musicians like Don Dokken were invited into the studio to observe and listen (as well as to play the role of public advocate to further create interest), and guest musicians like John 5 were asked to contribute to add further spice and personality to the end product.

As people should expect by now, much advance hoopla is typically a set up for disappointment. What you DON’T have here by any means is a return to the attitude and sound of the Blackout era … but, what you DO have is a very well-crafted album that has many positive attributes – some that you may indeed not expect.

Humanity – Hour 1 has been greatly influenced by co-producers James Michael and Desmond Child. Plenty of “heaviness” can be found in this album, but none of the songs make it past the pace of mid-tempo. In fact, the 12 tracks are pretty evenly split between slow-tempo “quasi-ballads” and mid-tempo songs, with several incorporating shifts in tempo intra-song on multiple occasions. Lyrically, this is probably the best album ever completed by the Scorpions. Due to the band’s German heritage, a justified criticism of the Scorpions throughout their 35 years has been their “simple” English lyrics (seemingly forced at times) along with Klaus Meine’s audible singing accent. Well, believe it or not, the lyrics within this new album flow VERY well, come across as intelligent and well-put together, and Meine’s German vocal tinge has essentially disappeared. In fact, Meine puts in perhaps his best all around vocal effort ever heard in Humanity – Hour 1. Couple that with an unbelievable ability to write catchy chorus after catchy chorus throughout this record, and you’ve just got to applaud the effort and developments made.

Sound-wise, the production quality is outstanding. Pawel Maciwoda’s bass guitar is a much more dominant instrument in the mix, and James Kottak’s drum sound and emphasis is a true highlight as well. Style-wise, the slow and mid-tempo song delivery has, as mentioned, plenty of inherent heaviness, but it’s also impregnated with a “modern” flair to the guitar sound. Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs aren’t really the focal points within this album … killer solos and ripping leads occasionally happen, but aren’t that common. Instead, there are many melodic fills and chord patterns that sometimes have a Modern Doom Metal touch, a la Scott Rockenfield’s (Queensrÿche) solo project Slave To The System. It’s good, but surprisingly different. Scorpions fans of old may be turned off by this sound, but they should give the album a chance anyway and appreciate what has been attempted and accomplished.

With respect to the songs, all 12 tracks are good to very good, however, the band is simply at its best when it ROCKS, so mid-tempo songs like the opener “Hour 1,” “The Game Of Life,” “You’re Lovin’ Me To Death,” “321,” “The Cross,” and closer “Humanity” stand out as the best of the lot. Brought up above, the lyric-writing collaboration produced outstanding (and catchy) results across the board, but the pervasiveness of slow-tempo songs unfortunately erases much of the energy that the album otherwise provides. Regardless of the serious and melancholy theme of the album, a few up-tempo songs would indeed have been a good idea by the band, and perhaps no more than 2 or 3 of the deliberately paced variety.

The album starts and closes, however, with 2 pairs of its best tracks at both ends, which will totally psyche you up at the onset and again when exiting … if anything, a smart mixing decision. Humanity – Hour 1 should truly be viewed as a success, however, after multiple spins you can’t help but to think the band, with just a few minor philosophical adjustments, had the tools this time to create an unequivocal, integral, commercial winner. Instead, what they have created is a very easy to listen to, skillfully crafted, above average concept album that should at least be checked out by all Scorpions fans of the past, as well as Melodic Hard Rock/Metal fans of today.


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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