The last nightmare
I’m been putting off doing this review for about a month. I’ve had conflicting feelings about this, and wanted to really understand them completely before saying something I’d just have to retract at a later date. I think I understand enough now to really get my thoughts across well.
I’ve been an Alice Cooper fan since I was about 12 or so, when I borrowed my cousin’s Welcome To My Nightmare cassette. He ended up buying me a copy for my birthday so he could have his back, because I wasn’t giving it up. That album in particular had a huge impact on me musically, and really caused me to appreciate the narrative aspect music could convey. It’s by far one of my top 5 favorite albums of all time. This album was the birth of the power ballad, and has influenced most major rock artists of the past 30+ years. So you could imagine my surprise and joy when I found out he recently released a true sequel to that concept album, with the next chapter in the story of Steven, whom the first album was about.
I picked up the new album immediately and gave it a listen. The opening song is awesome, and I was really getting into it, until some of the other songs came around. I must admit, I didn’t really like it at first, and that really bothered me. I wasn’t expecting the same magic the original had, because that can never be replicated, but present day me wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this album. So I put it aside…for about a day, and ended up going back to it because the songs kept popping up in my thoughts, and I had to listen to them again. This snowballed until I became obsessed with the album. I sat and analyzed it, and how I felt about it, and finally got it.
Many of the songs on this album have a very retro feel, and are in different styles ranging from pop and rock to disco and beach rock. There’s even a song with Ke$ha, of all people, singing on it. Each of these songs flow well enough into each other, but instead of very updated versions of the styles, he stayed true to them. That is what I wasn’t expecting, since all current artists seem to do that. This is a truly classic Cooper album, with great riffs, great hooks, solid arrangements, theatrics, and his silly/campy sense of humor. He didn’t try to remake his classic, he expanded on it and made something new. Some songs sound like they could’ve easily been on one of his 70’s records, while others would have been right at home on one of his 80’s records. It was sort of like being on a ride spanning more than 30 years of one of the most influential musicians of the past 50 years.
I really like this album. It doesn’t just show that Alice still has it, it shows that even though we’re in this age where the vast majority of music out there is commercialized cookie-cutter crap, used to sell products above all, music can still be great and mean something. Modern artists and producers should take lessons from bands like Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Anthrax, and Black Sabbath, because they are still making fucking awesome albums, and aren’t being worthless bullshit sellouts like many of the other bands out there. There are exceptions, like A7X and Shinedown, but they’re sadly in short supply. Thank you, Mr. Furnier, for releasing an album that helped me keep the faith!