Along Came A Spider
True classic Alice
Alice Cooper, the undisputed founder of true shock rock is back once again with his new studio album Along Came A Spider, which is the long awaited follow up to his highly acclaimed 2005 effort Dirty Diamonds. On his twenty-sixth studio effort, Cooper has once again returned to a fully conceptualised storyline (Something he hasn't really attempted properly since 1994's The Last Temptation), with the story centred on a serial killer by the name of Spider, whose sole purpose is to create his own macabre spider from human body parts.
While the story itself sounds suitably dark, horrific and gory, Cooper and his band (Who this time comprise of guitarists Keri Kelli and Jason Hook, bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Eric Singer) still manage to keep things rocking in true classic fashion. After a brief opening narrative that quickly establishes the plot behind the album (Prologue), Cooper gets the album off to a very retro rocking style with the opening track I Know Where You Live. The dry production sound, use of hand claps and tambourine and sparse instrumentation sounds like a continuation of where the band left off on the last couple of albums, which is unashamedly classic '70's rock sounding.
Vengeance Is Mine is definitely a little darker and heavier sounding (Bringing to mind 2000's Brutal Planet), with former Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash adding some great lead work. Wake The Dead (Which was co-written with Ozzy Osbourne, who also provides guest harmonica playing) on the other hand is a strange mix of '60's psychedelia and modern rock minimalism, which singles itself out as one of the album's stranger efforts. Catch Me If You Can is a typical Cooper anthem that's destined to be a live favourite, while the sleazy (In Touch With) Your Feminine Side and riff led Wrapped In Silk are guaranteed to be slotted in the same league within time.
The ballad Killed By Love is an absolute Cooper classic in the vein of You And Me and It's Me, while the semi-orchestrated slower track Salvation allows Cooper to experiment a little more in terms of creating a show stopping epic finale. If there's a throwaway track on the album (And there always are on every Cooper album), it would have to be I'm Hungry. Although thin of the lyrical side of things, it's the musical back up that really lets it down for the most part. But thankfully, the heavier The One That Got Away and the final twist of the symphonic closer I Am The Spider/Epilogue (Which unveils the long awaited return of Steven) close Along Came A Spider on a high.
Although a little less darker, sinister and heavier sounding than what I was initially hoping for when details about the storyline of Along Came A Spider were announced, this latest release from Cooper is still an enjoyable effort, and one that's sure to be given plenty of spins before the itch for something new from Cooper hits in time to come.
(Nightmare Inc./Steamhammer/S.P.V./Riot! Entertainment)