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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Alice Cooper: Brutal Planet


1) Brutal Planet; 2) Wicked Young Man; 3) Sanctuary; 4) Blow Me A Kiss; 5) Eat Some More; 6) Pick Up The Bones; 7) Pessi-Mystic; 8) Gimme; 9) It's The Little Things; 10) Take It Like A Woman; 11) Cold Machines.

For the first time since the weirdness attacks of Zipper Catches Skin and Dada, Alice puts out a decidedly non-commercial album, one that not only ignores current marketing trends, but goes as far as not yielding even a potential hit single, not to mention being released on a tiny indie label (Spitfire) with little or no marketing potential whatsoever. No one can call Brutal Planet a com­mercial flop: with its subject matters, its sound, and its intentional lack of promotion, it was never supposed to be «huge». This is hardcore Cooper for hardcore fans.

How would an artist like Alice Cooper prefer to greet the new millennium? Quite likely, by cas­ting a wicked glance at the then-and-now and, in his own individual style, telling us the obvious: want it or not, this world pretty much sucked in the past two millennia, goes on sucking today like there was no tomorrow, and is more or less doomed to go soon if things continue the way we continue doing them. Come to think of it, quite a predictable thing to be preached by an old, griz­zled, spiteful, born-again Christian. It all hangs on the manner of preaching.

Brutal Planet is Cooper's heaviest album to date, and possibly ever, and «heavy» here refers both to the music, cast in the questionable, but potentially killer genre of Industrial Metal, and the subject matter, since Alice has apparently decided to address all seven deadly sins and more. Let's see: I clearly perceive wrath ('Wicked Young Man'), greed ('Gimme'), gluttony ('Eat Some More'), uh... well, the rest does not work out so well, but at least you get the basic idea.

Mind you: this is not an intellectual celebration. The lyrics are rarely ambiguous, and the riffs are rarely complex. In a way, this is a retread even from the level of The Last Temptation. But we can buy this regardless of the fact that the number of employed chords is not overwhelming, be­cause Brutal Planet was clearly designed with this idea in mind — someone, thinks Alice, needs to brutally bash the concept of a «brutal planet» into the heads of the current generation. To hell with obscurity and complexity; let us have a simplistic metal ball before we get all blown to the same hell, and who knows, perhaps this simplicity might get at least a few of us to stop and con­sider not being blown to hell after all.

The incessantly ironish guitar tones should not really be hard to bear. Behind them lie standard Alice Cooper pop hooks, much like the ones on Trash, except they have been better fleshed out and their metal encasing is sharp, crisp, and hot, much unlike the commercial gloss of the days of yore. (There have been complaints that, in reality, Alice is simply jumping the freshest band­wagon of nu-metal, but frankly, I do not hear any Korn or Limp Bizkit in these songs, way too truly evil to be compared to these youngsters). The riffs frequently come in pairs — a low, scary one that carries the rhythm, and a higher, whiny one that highlights the pop melody, as you can immediately hear on the title track. The so­los usually come in short, garage-style outbursts: professional, but humble blasts of ass-kicking courtesy of Ryan Roxie, I believe. And the singing... well, that is one area where we should never bother; Alice Cooper is, by all means, guaranteed for life.

As simple as it all sounds, much of it is genius simplicity, plus there are unpredictable touches all the way through. The title track, on which Alice trashes humanity as a whole (admitting, however, that it is really the Biblical serpent who is behind all the shit), introduces, out of nowhere, a drea­my female chorus of rose-colored glasses-wearing angels, which is then contrasted with Cooper's devilish shouting. 'Wicked Young Man', possibly the most hateful send-up of hatred ever put on record ("I read Mein Kampf daily just to keep my hatred fed" transcends simple kitsch and dives head first into Monty Python territory, but that's cool), borrows an alert siren as its second riff. 'It's The Little Things', fastest song on here but also serving as a bit of comic relief, falls back on the legacy by namedropping some of Alice's previous hit titles, etc.

There is also the predictable, although this time decidedly non-hit, ballad ('Take It Like A Wo­man') that is essentially 'Only Women Bleed Part Two'; but it is the only time when the metallic punching fades away, only to come back once more and predict the rise of 'Cold Machines' (yes, what's up with us forgetting about that? thank you for reminding us, Alice!). As monotonous as it all feels together, each hook is different, and although the basic anger behind this is simply Anger, it is exciting to be able to feel Anger at so many different things: the original sinners, the skin­heads, the consumerists, the genocide instigators, the social-darwinists, and all those other inha­bitants of the brutal planet — and it is fairly certain that, in one song at least, you, the reader, will be able to spot yourself, because the Coop spares no one.

Lumping and leaden, impressive and memorable, funny and scary, it is an album that cemented Cooper's status as that of the old guy who made it artistically intact into the new millennium, along with just a bare handful of his colleagues from the old days such as Lou Reed or David Bowie. Heartily recommended for metal fans in general and Alice fans in particular, the heart gives it a thumbs up, and the brain is still trying to figure out how it is possible to squeeze that much sense out of a handful of primitive metal riffs.

1 comment:

  1. Now the title song is a pleasant surprise - excellent main riff, drums that are just not yet generic and a quite catchy melody. I might be tempted to listen to the entire album once.