Review Summary: What Along Came a Spider lacks in a "School's Out" or "Poison"-type classic, it makes up by being an all-around solid album, and a ton of fun to listen to.
Coupled with Alice Cooper's 60th birthday last February and the simple fact that Along Came a Spider
is the shock rocker's twenty-fifth studio album, you'll have to forgive me for being just a little sceptical. After all, how many of Cooper's contemporaries are still recording quality records? Not very many, surely. And nobody could possibly have forgotten how incredibly abysmal Ozzy Osbourne's Black Rain
Preconceived notions be damned. Along Came a Spider
is a fine record. Even Ozzy, who makes an appearance on "Wake the Dead" is almost bearable in all of his strained, nasally glory. Though Cooper doesn't really step outside his comfort zone at any point during the record, Along Came a Spider
makes up for its lack of depth and uniqueness with an unabashedly entertaining brand of hard rock. Keri Kelli contributes Sabbath-esque grooves in "Vengeance is Mine" and "I Am the Spider" and bluesy licks akin to something heard off Welcome to My Nightmare
in "Wrapped in Silk". Barring ballads "Killed By Love" and "Salvation", Along Came a Spider
may be a heavier endeavour than some of Cooper's past efforts – particularly "Vengeance is Mine" and "Catch Me If You Can" – but the majority of the record maintains the same level of accessibility as past hits. And while Cooper doesn't pen numbers that exceed his classic tracks, "Catch Me If You Can" and "(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side" are among the most memorable of Along Came a Spider
's repertoire, and should make for excellent live cuts.
As for the horror concept, well, it doesn't tread too far from Alice-territory either. Not that it's a bad thing, really. Along Came a Spider
revolves around a serial killer named Spider, whom attempts to construct a spider by collecting a leg from eight of his victims. For some reason, however, he falls in love with his eighth victim, which complicates his goal significantly. It's a bizarre story for sure, but it's the kind of concept that Cooper excels at, and he certainly plays his roll as Spider well. Each of Along Came a Spider
's songs documents a different segment of Spider's activities; "Vengeance is Mine" shows his disdain for society and "Wake the Dead" explains the motive (or lack thereof) for his murderous streak. "The One That Got Away" tells of the abduction of Spider's victims and "Wrapped in Silk" of the grisly murder that shortly follows. With "Salvation", Spider has an epiphany and makes an attempt at repentance. This could have been one of the most powerful points of the album, had it been the closing track, but instead, "I Am the Spider" closes off the record with a mere summation of Spider's character. It's one of the heavier rockers Along Came a Spider
has to offer, but the dark lyrical imagery almost completely overshadows that heard in "Salvation". Disappointing, to say the least, though the epilogue in which Cooper repeats "you trap, you kill, you eat" is kind of creepy.
After five decades of straddling garage and hard rock, it would probably have been silly to expect Along Came a Spider
to be anything other than an "Alice Cooper" album, so to speak. It's still an engaging listen, however, and one which old and new fans alike should take solace in. What it lacks in a "School's Out" or "Poison"-type classic, it makes up by being an all-around solid album, and a ton of fun to listen to. Really, what more could you ask for from an Alice Cooper record?