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3.66 | 40 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1975

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Dark Lady (3:28)
2. In Trance (4:47)
3. Life's Like A River (3:51)
4. Top Of The Bill (3:29)
5. Living And Dying (3:23)
6. Robot Man (2:45)
7. Evening Wind (5:05)
8. Sun In My Hand (4:24)
9. Longing For Fire (2:45)
10. Night Lights (3:14)

Total Time 37:16


- Klaus Meine / lead vocals
- Ulrich Roth / lead guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals
- Rudolf Schenker / rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Francis Buchholz / bass guitar, backing vocals
- Rudy Lenners / drums, percussion

About this release

17 September 1975

Thanks to Pekka, Lynx33, 666sharon666, adg211288 for the updates


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Gone are the last ghosts of Scorpions' prog-influenced origins on this release, and in comes the first of a run of hyper-controversial cover art images (though it's pretty damn tame compared to the outright dodgy Virgin Killer, a real "what the hell were you thinking?" moment).

And the music itself? Subtlety goes out the window and sheer hard rock fury is unleashed, as spotted from the ramparts of proto-metal hell. With the raucous album opener Dark Lady acting as a declaration of intent, the release serves up 36 minutes of top-notch 1970s rock, with the band proving themselves masters not just of then-current blues-rock and ballad sounds but also pioneers of a new, faster style of early metal which would be a key influence on the European metal scene in coming years.

Overall, the album is aptly named, because it's one of those rare releases where the first time you hear it you just have to stop whatever you are doing and pay attention. Over time I have found that my appreciation of it has faded a little, in part because it's the start of a style which Scorpions would take to greater heights later in their career, but for those exploring the history of 1970s hard rock and proto-metal, don't skip out on this landmark.
In the beginning, back in 1975...

The other sort of heavy metal was well and truly born. Rather than a hard rock album with a couple of metallish songs, "In Trance" is the very first bona fide METAL album.

Far from being traditional, this sets the ground rules for how the passionate fans of the genre hear the music; It's diamond-hard, noticeably blues-avoiding, technically peerless in its genre, and razor sharp.

Let's go on... the riffs totally kill, the vocals are powerful and screamy, yet in total control and richly melodic, the drums and bass pound, and the solos are light years away from that infernal noodling bluff that you get on most hard rock albums.

Of note, for those who've been living under a rock, are Uli Jon Roth's breathtaking solos, like Jimi Hendrix reincarnated and having gone to college for some intense guitar lessons - then having forgotten it all to simply provide liquid metal solos that flow like mercury, yet cut like a laser.

To top it all, the great music also coagulates into great songs with an edge of radio-friendliness.

This is a far cry from the Krauty-space rock of the first album, despite the loss of Rudolph Schenker's tech wizard of a brother. This is an acknowledgement of the metal god power The Scorpions found in songs like the prophetic "Speedy's Coming".

"Dark Lady" sets the scene for metal's development, with it's aggressive, snarling intro and Sabbath-esque gallop, this, combined with Meine's trademark screams is where it's at.

People often cite Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash as the forerunners of the twin guitar attack, but nowhere is it more evident and prevalent than in this song. The trilling decending motifs scream Iron Maiden at you in no uncertain terms, and the trem work is Slayer all over. The tech riffs suggest Megadeth - gods, the list of dues to pay goes on and on.

Try to find something more intense outside of Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy" from before 1975, and tell me what it is!

The title track follows, the template for all metal ballads. Feel those ice-cold fingers running up and down your spine, and hold that lighter up high. Stone Cold, Ice-Cold, Metallic classic, with harmonic minor runs a-plenty.

The instrumental sections are so achingly melodic, with twin lead bliss, that you positively die of that "something beautiful lost" feeling. You have been warned... these are melodies of timeless beauty enriched with harmonic perfection and sonic wondrousness.

The twin guitar work continues to kill, and Roth shows off his Hendrix chops in "Life's Like a River". File under "Betcha Can't Play This" unless your name is Andy James. Meine demonstrates the full dramatic potential of his stunning voice - and there are some rather redundant while well exectued bass lines, but all in all, a great attempt to make this song progressive in the awesome arrangement.

"Top of The Bill" follows, a mid-paced but intense metal killer, with some nice double bass-drum work, molten guitar lines, and curious vocal overdubs - in places paying homage to Queen. The guitar at 2:10 is pure evil - Slayer through and through, and there's that harmonic pull-off, whammy bar thing that I've always associates d with Zakk Wylde.

Maybe there's a surfeit of metal ballads on this album - maybe not. What's certain is that there's no let up of intensity or quality of songwriting and performance.

"Living and Dying" hangs around a tritonic motif, with eerie keys provinding a deathly backdrop to snarling bass growling guitars, and Meine suspension power.

"Robot Man" is another stand out metal track, which tends to get included on Scorpions compilations - so I'd guess it's well known. Here the power lies in potentia, with Schenker's whammy bar insanity providing the perfect foil to Roth's technical pyrotechnics.

The intro to "Evening Wind" slays, paving the way for a kind of atmospheric, twisted balladic number, ever threatening, portentous and moody. Meine is not so convincing on this one, and neither are the rather bluesey instrumental sections - but I'm digging the fullsome bass growls and rich production - and it does get better towards the end when it all comes together for some haunting chanting.

"Sun In My Hand" is a tough chugger, modelled on Cream/Hendrix style slow blues. Roth's vocals are far less convincing than his phenomenal off-the-wall guitar playing.

"Longing For Fire" is a rather experimental instrumental, with some tasteful soloing, but that's about all that can be said for it, while "Night Lights" is yet another ballad, with some beautiful modal playing, if you're not fed up with slow/mid-paced songs by now.

From 1:58 is where the real interest lies - the duetting trilled descending runs are drop-dead gorgeous.

In summary, an album for those who like their metal technical, and think that metal only got technical in the mid 1980s - and an album for those who can't tell the difference between metal and hard rock from the 1970s! This defines it.

Half a star dropped for the over-indulgence in slow songs, which make this album feel unbalanced. Other than that, an immaculate display of everything that makes metal great.

Vorsprung Durch Technique, as they say...

The Scorpions must have felt their Progressive tendencies of "Fly to the Rainbow" weren't the way to go for them and on their third album they made a clear choice for short and accessible material. They sold off their synths to Eloy, who would gladly wear them out, and the few songs clocking in over 4 minutes here are all ballads.

The album is split between speedy metal-rock ("Dark Lady", "Robot Man"), rather typical mainstream hard-rock/blues stuff ("Top of The Bill", "Sun In My Hand", "Longing for Fire"), and loads of ballads, of which "Evening Wind" and "In Trance" are quite glorious. It's not a bad album but it's rather redundant, it's too short and the quality of the material is too uneven. Besides you'll find all songs you'll ever need on "Tokyo Tapes" live album.

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