SCORPIONS — Virgin Killer (review)

SCORPIONS — Virgin Killer album cover Album · 1976 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
There’re no lead in sound effects, no acoustic intros, or any willy-nillying to the beginning of this album. The first song, “Pictured Life” just kicks off the album with a melodic hard rock song that features Uli Jon Roth’s lead melody. The guitar sound is high toned but backed with the bass of Francis Buchholz it takes on a heavier sound. Someone out there called this song a stand out track in the Scorpions catalogue.

For me though, the next track, “Catch Your Train” is even more exciting, erupting from the album with a sustained guitar note by Roth and slashing chords by Michael Schenker, then a flurry of notes off Roth’s fretboard. When Kirk Hammett appeared alongside Roth on Eddie Trunk’s “That Metal Show”, Hammett stated how that song, with its pyrotechnic lead guitar work, had inspired him as a young teenager. The song is hurried and powerful.

“Walk in Your Park” is an early power ballad but seemingly loud in the loud parts though quite gentle in the softer moments. “Backstage Queen” a good but typical rocker.

And then there’s the title track. “Virgin Killer” was inspired by KISS and the lyrics written by Roth are about how Time is the stealer of innocence. The album cover art was decided by the record company and it featured a nude ten-year-old girl posing seductively with her genitalia obscured by a crack in the glass supposedly covering the photograph. Though no one in the band considered this as promoting child pornography at the time, the album received serious criticism in the U.K. and the U.S. and had to be sold in a black cover in some countries whereas for other countries the cover photo was replaced with one of the band. Indeed the copy I had on cassette in Canada in the eighties was the band version. When Wikipedia included an article about the album using the original album art, protests and complaints created a case against Wikipedia using what many deemed as an image promoting child pornography and pedophilia. The FBI became involved although in the end no American laws were found to have been violated.

Side two of the album features two tracks with Roth on lead vocals, “Hell Cat” and “Polar Nights”. Both of these are stand out tracks because Roth’s deep love for Jimi Hendrix can be heard in the guitar riffs. Not the best choice for a lead vocalist, Roth would eventually leave the Scorpions and start his own band, Electric Sun and take the lead vocal duties.

Other tracks on side two include “Crying Time”, which to me still carries a bit of the psychedelic mood that was on early Scorpions recordings, and another slower, ballad type of song, “The Yellow Raven” which is very soft and delicate until the powerful, hard rock ending.

This album sees for a brief time the Roth-era Scorpions really coming into their sound. The previous two albums were each quite distinct: “Fly to the Rainbow” being basically Roth’s band, Dawn Road, writing material with Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine that still had some progressive tendencies, and “In Trance” the first step toward writing shorter hard rock sounds with producer Dieter Dierks. While both of these older albums have some strengths and weaknesses, I see “Virgin Killer” along with “Taken by Force” as two excellent albums featuring some seminal hard rock and early metal performances with Roth’s guitar work standing out. According to Wikipedia, at least three songs from this album have been covered by modern metal bands. As this album seems to be much appreciated in the metal music world, I feel vindicated for loving it in spite of the fact that among my friends in junior high school, I was the only one who liked Uli Jon Roth-era Scorpions.
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11 months ago
I love the Animal Magnetism title track. It’s so different from most of their Matthias Jabbs output. And I can’t choose between Virgin Killer or Taken by Force. Both have some awesome songs. I like Fly to the Rainbow more now than I did when I was a teen, and Lonesome Crow? I used to like half the songs as a teen but recently the album has become more interesting.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
11 months ago
Yeah, i don't understand why that one gets rated lower in general. Oh well!
Unitron wrote:
11 months ago
I love Animal Magnetism as well, probably my second favorite Scorps album after Taken By Force. The title track is one of the darkest metal songs ever written, rivals Black Sabbath's self-titled song.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
11 months ago
I love Taken By Force but for some reason i like the ones no one else seems to. My favorites are Fly To The Rainbow, Virgin Killer and Animal Magnetism. Oh and of course Lonesome Crow!
Unitron wrote:
11 months ago
None of the Scorp's other 70's albums can hold a candle to Taken By Force imo, that is simply one of the best metal albums ever made.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
11 months ago
I just listened to this a couple weeks ago. 4.5 is my final rating too! Thanks for being coerced into a rating change, oh and good review!

@Vim, yeah metal snobs from the 70s always cite this one as one their favorites. I can see why

11 months ago
Probably, yeah! Ha ha!
Vim Fuego wrote:
11 months ago
So there were metal elitists even back then...;)
11 months ago
The rating is going up by a full star in five... four... three...
siLLy puPPy wrote:
11 months ago
Do it! Do it! Do it! LOL
11 months ago
Yeah, I get stuck on the numbers sometimes. I think “I really like this album but how does it stack up in the band’s catalogue and in the scene at the time and in the overall development of metal and how about the guitar sound, the production...” I prefer writing about albums to rating them. As I can always enjoy this album, or at least most songs, I should bump up the rating.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
11 months ago
Only 3.5? I love this one! It was a grower mostly because of a few tracks like "Catch A Train" invading my inner earworm time and time again but when i listen to this now it's almost a masterpiece. There are a couple substandard tracks that time won't make better ;)

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