Along Came a Spider
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Reviewed by R. David Smola
Alice has always re-invented himself every couple of records, exploring various horror-inspired topics, and thrown in some social commentary along the way. “Lost in America,” from Temptation, was a spot-on commentary and satire about the current teen culture. Exploring a serial killer’s mind is cliché and predictable in 2008, not what we would expect from the man who first wrote about necrophilia some 21 years ago in “Cold Ethyl” off of his greatest record, 1975’s Welcome to My Nightmare. His storytelling and apocalyptic visions for Brutal Planet and Dragontown were perfect foils for the industrial metal grooves. On Spider, “Wrapped in Silk” which features some delicious guitar licks from touring band members Keri Kelli and Jason Hook and the fabulously arena ready drumming of Eric Singer, just loses its edge when Alice sings of killing his prey and “bathing her in white.” Alice, although incredibly proud of his art, has always had a sense of humor about things. Some of this stuff is presented in a serious vein where the tongue is clearly missing from the cheek. It isn’t the band’s execution or the music, because that is all very, very good – but he subject matter is supposed to be shocking and provocative; and it just isn’t. Spider is just another story about a serial killer, anything you could get out of watching Criminal Minds every week. “I’m Hungry” doesn’t come off as sinister, just kind of silly, even though the song musically could have fit into the Love It to Death sessions.
Album production by Danny Saber (David Bowie, Public Enemy), Greg Hampton (Travers & Appice, Tommy Bolin), and Cooper himself is clean and allows space for all the instruments to be heard and does a nice job of amping up Singer’s great drumwork.
There is an excellent distribution of style on the record, from the hard rock sound of “Vengeance Is Mine,” featuring the unmistakable searing guitar work of Slash, to the 60’s garage rock sound of “Wake the Dead,” to the pleasant hair metal balladry of “Killed By Love.” Cooper is always evolving, but the subject matter of this concept record feels more like a step backwards then a move forward.