Review Summary: A swing and a miss. Come on, Cooper, you can do better than this!5 of 6 thought this review was well written
Alice Cooper doing an album with Kesha on one track, and an excessive amount of vocal processing featured through out? Welcome to MY nightmare.
I love Cooper. I really do. He's a great entertainer. His concerts are great, even though the guy is now 45 years older than 18. When compared to his contemporaries, his voice has held up pretty well. And yes, I enjoy most his solo albums, even though they are often mixed bags, and nothing on the level of the Alice Cooper Band albums.
But Alice Cooper is not known as an artist with integrity. He changes his sound often, not so much as a means of artistic exploration, but rather as a means of topping the charts and reclaiming the glory of his days as a hitmaker. This was evident with 1980's "We're All Clones"; the metal efforts of the late 80s; the glam/hair metal of "Trash"; the Industrial Metal of "Brutal Planet" and "Dragon Town", and, when it became popular, the return to poppy garage fair with 2003's "Eyes of Alice Cooper." To his credit, he is a versatile musician. And he could be so much better than he has been for the last 20+ years.
"Welcome 2 My Nightmare" is, as the title suggests, a sequel to his classic album "Welcome to My Nightmare," a gaudy, bombastic work of rock opera, considered by many fans and critics to be his best solo release. W2MN SHOULD have be great. Hell, it features the original Alice Cooper band and producer Bob Ezrin! Well, W2MN is no WTMN.
So apparently Alice's character, Steven, doesn't want to fall asleep or something, and then he does and has another nightmare. BUT IS IT A NIGHTMARE, OR IS HE REALLY DEAD?
That's basically the plot. There's not much of a departure from Alice's previous concept albums. The storyline is interchangeable, disposable, rather forced. He has the Steven character venturing into the usual AC locations: empty wastelands, zombie-ridden beaches, Disco & Hell (ala Alice Cooper Goes to Hell), stops for the random money-grabbing ballad, and then heads off for the DRAMATIC!!! conclusion, where we find out that our beloved hero might not be asleep after all.
The album offers a wide variety of styles, but lacks the cohesive creepiness of the previous entry, WTMN. Also, unlike the latter, this album is extremely over-produced. Maybe it's because Cooper is older and can't sing very well, or maybe it was a stylistic choice, but Vcoder and Auto-tune are used all over the album. Frankly, it's galling, distracting, and obnoxious.
After a brief snippet of the piano from "Steven", we dive right into "I Am Made of You," a track with good lyrics with overtly spiritual meaning - almost like Alice's born again confession - coupled with that annoying autotune effect that has no place on any self-respecting rocker's album. The song sounds like a funeral march, as though Alice is walking to the gallows. It's interesting, pretty well written, but as mentioned above, the auto tune ruins it. Nice solo in the middle. From there, we get "Caffeine," a disposable Alice Cooper tune that merely serves to move the "story" along. After a brief instrumental, we get "Runaway Train," which features great guitar work and the three surviving members of the Alice Cooper Band. "Last Man on Earth" is a fun, schmaltzy showtune with a nod to Tom Waits, and great (as far as I can tell, non-processed) vocals from Cooper. Clearly, this one is meant as a stand in for WTMN's "Some Folks"; I'm glad to say that LMOE is better.
"The Congregation" is an enjoyable song that sounds a bit too much like "Department of Youth" and "School's Out", and includes a spoken interlude with Rob Zombie. "I'll Bite Your Face Off" is the often-talked about Rolling Stones imitation number 1 hit. I don't particularly care for it. It's just too generic.
"Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever" has fans divided. A disco/rap song sung by Alice Cooper, with an absurd metal solo from John 5? Well, I love it. The lyrics are mildly amusing, and Cooper's tongue and cheek delivery makes it all the more enjoyable. Next comes the totally disposable "Ghouls Gone Wild," a beach-style tune that sounds like almost everything from "Eyes of Alice Cooper." One of the worst tracks on the album.
In speaking of bad tracks, we get "Something to Remember Me By" directly after "Ghouls." Someone tell Cooper that, just because "Only Women Bleed", "You and I," and "How You Gonna See Me Now" worked, doesn't mean that you have to stick a bad ballad on every album. I mean, ok, it's not terribly written. It's just... been there, done that. Cooper's vocals are great, but who cares? We know the Alice character has a soft side to him. Now, do something different.
"When Hell Comes Home" is the best song on the album. Make more like this, please! The bass is slinky, the guitar is crunchy, the vocals are sly and sinister. This one was played live in the studio by the surviving members of the Alice Cooper Band, and is about domestic violence. This is probably the best track Alice Cooper has written in years.
Now, the absolute worst thing on the album: "What Baby Wants." I know you want to get back on the charts, Alice Cooper, but this is really rock n' roll suicide. It sucks. It sounds like EVERYTHING on the radio. The awful auto tune, the bad lyrics, the KESHA... I feel like a 13 year old girl listening to this garbage. Make it stop. At least Poison was rocky.
Then comes "I Gotta Get Out of Here", a fun acoustic rock song with an amusing ending. The album ends with the pretty jaw-dropping orchestral track, "Underture" which features a mashup of Alice Cooper songs both current and old. Really nice. Next stop, Broadway.
I won't bother reviewing the bonus tracks. There are four different releases of this thing, each with different bonus tracks so that you have to buy all of them. *** that. Torrent it if you must, but there's absolutely no reason to buy four of the same thing, just for 2 different tracks. God, that's greedy.
A swing and a miss with lots of bad filler. Cooper, in places, you are on the right track. It was better than the generic, half-assed effort of 2008, "Along Came a Spider," but was no where near your earlier work with the Alice Cooper Band. I am a big fan of Cooper, and I will continue going to his shows because he really does entertain. I would recommend this album to die-hards only. For the rest of you, I'd recommend downloading the good tracks from iTunes.
Runaway Train, Last Man on Earth, The Congregation, Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever, When Hell Comes Home, Underture