Music News

Scorpions/Berliner Philharmoniker

You know a metal band's in bad shape when it hasn't topped the charts in nigh a decade and even its designated pretty boy's been sporting baseball caps over his balding pate for longer than that. Such has been the case for the Scorpions, who've released nothing resembling a hit since the Berlin Wall was pulverized and peddled for paperweights. Unfortunately for hair-club prospects Matthias Jabs, Klaus Meine and their cochlea-crushing cohorts, this state of affairs is unlikely to improve as a result of their latest long-player. While the pairing of these Teutonic rockers and the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra might have sounded sagacious on paper, in practice the match plays like Martha Stewart crashing a cockfight.

This dynamic is most evident on cuts such as "Hurricane 2000" and the once-rocking "Big City Nights," selections in which the presence of strings, bells and assorted orchestral fillips creates an impression that's less menacing than mincing. No less shlocky are the kiddie-choir-infested "Moment of Glory" and "Here in My Heart," which with its female guest vocalist (Lyn Liechty) is easily as bloated as anything ever released by Celine Dion. "Send Me an Angel" likewise sports a stint by a singer known only as Zucchero, whose straining makes painfully clear how rare an instrument Meine's still-razorlike tenor is. Slightly more successful are ballads including "Wind of Change" and "Still Loving You," the latter of which benefits from a relatively restrained arrangement. Similarly listenable is the instrumental "Crossfire," which allows guitarist Jabs to stretch his ever-nimble digits. What this CD stretches most frequently, though, is listeners' patience: With the bulk of its numbers lasting well over five minutes, Moment makes you wish more than anything that the highbrow help would hit the bricks and permit the Scorps their unadulterated sting.