Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Music Review - Alice Cooper - Brutal Planet

Well, here it is. The end of the series. Sure, Cooper wrote albums after Brutal Planet but I was writing CD reviews for Whatzup by then so these have already been handled. I wonder what I'll review next? Who knows! Who cares!

So as I just said, Alice Cooper came out with Brutal Planet in 2000, a mere six years after his previous release. Six years? Was he going to Bible college or what? Whatever he was doing Cooper came back with an album that proved that he could love Jesus while rocking harder than ever before, making Brutal Planet his heaviest and darkest album to date. In many places it's darn near industrial and Alice even admitted to going for a Marilyn Manson sound on a few songs*.

So it's heavy but is it good? You betcha! A lot of metalheads who don't consider themselves Alice Cooper fans have only this album and they like it**! And what's not to like? The title track kicks things off with a grinding rhythm guitar and mechanical sounding lead guitar pounding out a low and heavy riff. Lyrically the song concerns sin with overt lyrics like "We took advice from that deceiving snake" and female background vocals which are strangly offsetting to the thick sound. Cooper has always had a knack for memorable melodies and this song is no exception. In fact, well over half of the songs on the album have melodies so strong that one could easily play them folk-style on an acoustic guitar and the little ladies at church would listen attentively***. "Wicked Young Man" is just as heavy and twice as industrial, examining the concept of the innateness of sin via a young man who confesses "It's not the games that I play / The books that I read / I'm just a wicked young man." "Sanctuary" is an atomic explosion with breathless pacing and an anthemic chorus that is equally cathartic. Featuring a massive groove riff "Blow Me A Kiss" is another excellent song that captures timeless truths in a unique way. The dragging "Eat Some More" is the first of the very few clunkers on the album, though instead of clunking they kind of never really take flight. But who cares when most of the album kills? "Pick Up The Bones" is 100% creepy, telling the tale of someone picking up the body parts of family members and friends after a war massacre with a wall of thundering guitars and appropriately toned vocal performance. "Pessi-mistic" is good but sounds like a remake of the former song. "Take It Like A Woman" likewise is a fine song but appears to be a token ballad in the vein of "Every Woman Bleeds". Sonically it doesn't fit at all with the rest of the album**** so I can only assume it's inclusion was some kind of contractual obligation*****. Closing things out is "Cold Machines", the most industrial of all the songs, an extremely heavy song with a crushing riff sure to please all but the most finicky of metal mavens.

As an addendum, I just noticed that on my review for Dragontown I kind of dissed this album. In the last thirteen years I've listened to Brutal Planet more and it's twice the album of Dragontown. So there! Take THAT, stupid reviewing self from 2001!

Rank: Quality but not classic

* I should point out here that he had only one bassist, Bob Marlette, who was also the keyboardist, arranger and co-writer on most of the songs. I hope he got paid for all these hats.

** Also a lot of Christian hard rock fans who don't consider themselves Alice Cooper fans have only this album and they like it!

*** That is until one sings "Over there we filled the ovens / Right in the holocaust."

**** Which is why Alice apparently cut the song "Can't Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me." Huh?

***** Or he lost a bet.

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