Scorpions – Humanity Hour 1 (2007, New Door/Universal)
- Hour 1
- The Game Of Life
- We Were Born To Fly
- The Future Never Dies
- You’re Lovin’ Me To Death
- Love Will Keep Us Alive
- We Will Rise Again
- Your Last song
- Love Is War
- The Cross
- Cold (Best Buy exclusive bonus track)
Klaus Meine – Vocals
Rudolf Schenker – Rhythm Guitar
Matthias Jabs – Lead Guitar
Powel Maciwoda – Bass
James Kottak – Drums
Producers: Desmond Child & James Michael
Total Time – 58:17
Since 1972, the Scorpions have been creating their own style of Heavy Metal/Hard Rock with great success. Over the last 35 years, the band has been to the heights of success in any ever-changing musical landscape. There have been changes to the overall Scorpions sound to continue to stay fresh but the band has always retained the basis of their sound: the twin guitar attack (Schenker & Jabs) and the superb vocals of Klaus Meine. After almost a decade of experimentation with their sound, the Scorpions released UNBREAKABLE in 2004, an album that returned the band to their classic sound. After this solid return to form, the German quintet has released the concept laden HUMANITY HOUR 1 to continue their journey.
HUMANITY HOUR 1 is a concept album about the future fall of mankind by our own actions. In an age where the world is more aware of our mortality and the changing environment, this album is amuch a reflection of our current times as it is a prophecy of possible consequences to come.
Right from the beginning, ‘Hour 1’ kicks the album into high gear with a pulsating drums from James Kottak and buzzsaw guitars from Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs. It’s a little modern, Scorpions circa 2007, but it sounds like it could fit on SAVAGE AMUSEMENT (1988) or even FACE THE HEAT (1993). ‘Hour 1’ sets the tone for the album and proves that Klaus Meine hasn’t lost a step vocally.
‘The Game Of Life’ is more of the same modern feel combined with classic Scorpions. I like the subdued guitar throughout the song until the chorus kicks in and the guitars come alive. That subdued guitar during the verses lets Meine be the focus and you immeadiately can hear how strong his voice still is after so many years. This is a song tailor made for the live setting.
The Scorpions are kings of the mid-tempo song and ‘We Were Born To Fly’ fits nicely within this realm of expertise. An updated sound and soaring guitars really drive this song. I get a sad feeling when I hear this song even though the message is of hope. The music is emotional and shows definite quality.
Add piano and orchestration to the guitar base and ‘The Future Never Dies’ becomes a classic Scorpions ballad that could have easily fit on PURE INSTINCT (1996) or UNBREAKABLE (2004). The band experimented with this type of sound on the two live albums: MOMENT OF GLORY (2000) & ACOUSTICA (2001). Their experience with these extra sounds makes this song a standout.
‘You’re Lovin’ Me To Death’ is a harder mid-tempo track that is fully guitar laden and the bass driven. I like the fact that Powel Maciwoda’s bass is a little more prominent in the mix here because it adds structure to the main riff. This is a good song but I feel like I’ve heard it already.
Did Zakk Wylde join the Scorpions? I only ask because the main riff and guitar “squeal” in ‘321’ is very Black Label Society/Wylde-era Ozzy. I’m not complaining because ‘321’ is one of my favorites on this record and I could see this song getting major airplay now AND back in the band’s ’80s heyday. A melodic riff rocker that you just know translates well in concert.
Ballad #2 comes in with ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’ and it is another winner. Vocally, Klaus is at his peak, a fine performance. I’m a sucker for acoustic guitar and it is done very well alongside the electric. It’s a beautiful piece that could easily be put up against other Scorpions ballads like ‘Send Me An Angel’ or ‘Always Somewhere’. Another strong song, another favorite.
‘We Will Rise Again’ is another slow, mid-tempo number that is very balladesque until it picks up in the chorus. Very heavy yet melodic…..a theme throughout the album. I like the guitar solo: it’s melodic and driving but it doesn’t overpower the song.
‘Your Last Song’ opens with a nice guitar intro and pushes into another mid-tempo piece with an acoustic base. This song borders on being ballad #3 and reminds me of the songs on Def Leppard’s 2002 album, X. It’s a melodic update on the signature Scorpions sound, how this song isn’t getting airplay is crime, this should easily be a single. Another favorite.
The guitar intro to ‘Love Is War’ signals another mid-tempo/ballad. Again, an acoustic base and subdued electric guitar until the chorus picks up a bit. After so many slower songs, many listeners might be sick of the style. However, the Scorpions do this better than anyone and they have another strong track that has power in the chorus but retains the melody. The solo is top notch and you can’t help but pick up the catchy chorus, another potential single.
Alternative and almost Nu-Metal stylings are present in ‘The Cross’. The song is faster than the last few and there is a little of that Zakk Wylde type of guitar (I can hear that “squeal” again). I could do without Billy Corgan’s (Smashing Pumpkins) mid-song vocals, I think Klaus could do it better. Corgan is a good fit as a backing vocalist on this song but he is just unnecessary here on lead. This is another strong song but I’m not feeling it as much as I should, most likely because Corgan is associated with it and I can’t stand him, his band, or his style of music.
The first single and video off the album is ‘Humanity’ and it is immeadiately a Scorpions classic. It’s mid-tempo and picks up just before the chorus. I really enjoy the guitars and vocals here and I could envision this coming from any album after 1984. I also think the orchestration or keyboards add a lush sound that expands the song, making it sound really good. The guitar solo follows the basic melody and is done beautifully.
‘Cold’ is the bonus track for the official U.S. release (available only at Best Buy) and it is driven by a pulsating bass and drum sound. The guitars cut out for the vocal and slowly come in to layer the song. It’s another modern take on the classic Scorpions song. It doesn’t seem to fit the overall concept and feel of the album overall but it is a solid add-on. Sounds like a song that should have been on the previous album, UNBREAKABLE (2004).
This is a great album ny a legendary band, probably the biggest surprise of 2007. HUMANITY HOUR 1 blends current modern trends and the classic Scorpions Hard Rock sound to create an album rich with emotion and melody. There is talk from members of the band that this could possibly be the band’s last studio album and I think that would be a terrible mistake. After experimenting thoughout the late ’90s and early ’00s, the Scorpions have released one of the strongest records of their career, making them as important as ever to the Heavy Metal/Hard Rock scene.
Favorites here: the whole album, although ‘You’re Lovin’ Me To Death’, ‘Cold’, and ‘The Cross’ are the ones I’m not too keen on. These three are strong songs but I’m just not feeling them, maybe they will grow on me. This album definitely leaps into my Top Albums of 2007.