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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Alice Cooper: Raise Your Fist And Yell


1) Freedom; 2) Lock Me Up; 3) Give The Radio Back; 4) Step On You; 5) Not That Kind Of Love; 6) Prince Of Darkness; 7) Time To Kill; 8) Chop, Chop, Chop; 9) Gail; 10) Roses On White Lace.

It took a clearly rejuvenated Alice less than a year after the silliness of Constrictor to follow it up with an album even more silly. Raise Your Fist And Yell follows in the exact same vein, but ups the antes in every respect. The album cover (this time, Alice merges his made-up face with a fist rather than a snake) is campier. The lyrics are more primitive. The tunes emphasize the gore aspect far more strongly. And 'Chop, Chop, Chop' might just be the single most ridiculous song title on an Alice album to appear in ages.

Too bad, because the lead single at least shows promise. One need not, after all, think that all hair metal is meritless by definition. Its basic aesthetics and sound requirements have aged badly, but when they happened to be placed across a good melody and a decent message, sometimes the big elec­tronic drums and the guitar pyrotechnics could help carry it all off with extra power. This is what Alice demonstrates on 'Freedom', which seems to have been written in an inspired mood — it ta­kes off where 'Simple Disobedience' left off on the last album, a well-calculated rebellion anthem pandering to teenage tastes of the decade, but so was 'School's Out', and, while 'Freedom' is no 'School's Out', Alice's battle cry of "You better leave us, man, 'cuz you sure can't take us!" certa­inly rings the bell.

"We're a make-up metal degeneration", he also states, "we're not as stupid as you want to make us". 'Make-up metal degeneration' is, in fact, a great summary of most of this album; unfortunate­ly, it does look like Alice is quite consciously trying to make his audiences look as stupid as possible, interested in preciously little beyond slasher movies, reckless partying, and non-stan­dard sexual practices. The presence of irony in all these songs cannot be doubted, but it's an irony that has to be reconstructed, based on what we know about Alice, rather than heard or felt directly.

The cheese-o-meter needle keeps oscillating as we progress through this mess, throwing the lis­tener off his balance whenever he seems to have found some sort of hold. For instance, 'Time To Kill', as the signature song of a homicidal maniac, is not entirely awful — its brutal chorus works a certain brutal charm on you, and, on a particularly pissed-off evening, Alice's well-focused "I feel the fire in my eyes, I only got time to kill!" will help you vent your frustration as perfectly as any «intelligent» MC5 or Clash anthem. (Heck, many of us go through moments when we'd ra­ther like to be Freddy Krueger than Martin Luther King, Jr.). But when the next song is the afore­mentioned 'Chop Chop Chop', well, "...I only got time to kill" indeed.

As catchy as some of the choruses are ("give the radio back, to the maniac!"; "if you don't like it, you can lock me up, woah-oh-oh-oh!"; and it can take up to one week of recuperation to get rid of the cretinous line "chop chop chop, engine of destruction!" ringing in your head), the music behind them is uniformly atrocious — Kane Roberts is pathologically unable to write a memo­rable riff, or to play a solo passage that goes beyond mindless superficial copying of Eddie Van Halen's patterns. 'Freedom' is good, and 'Time To Kill' might be salvaged through transplantation on a different album, but everything else has been designed with 'stink' in mind, and so, predic­tably, it stinks. Thumbs down.

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