Review Summary: If you are a Stalker looking for an album to enjoy, then this is for you! Oh, if your an Alice Cooper fan you will also love this album.
Along Came A Spider - Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper: Lead & Backing Vocals
Danny Saber: Guitars, Keyboards, Bass
Greg Hampton: Additional Guitars, Backing Vocals, String Arrangements
Eric Singer: Drums
Slash: Lead Guitar on 'Vengeance Is Mine'
Two young teenagers are looking at albums in their favourite section of the local music store. Metal. One picks up Trivium's latest and looks at the track listing, whilst the other is laughing out loud at an album he has found. The first teenager turns around to see what his friend is so amused by. "Dude, what are you laughing at"" The young boy asks.
"Oh, it's this CD, look at the cover! It's this really old dude who thinks he is Marilyn Manson or something! I mean look how hard his trying!, he should give up, actually I think my dad likes him!" The second teenager snarls to his friend.
"Oh he is such a poser, I hate wannabe rockers like that!" The friend replies, before they both walk out of the record store. Unaware that the album they were mocking could wipe the floor with any of the modern day shock rocker's latest releases.
Along Came a Spider is a concept album, that is that it tells a story from start to finish. Not unusual for Alice Cooper as he has flirted with the idea a number of times (most notably, 'Welcome to my Nightmare' one of his most popular releases). The beauty of this album is however that everything is so simple. Unlike many concept albums such as Dream Theater's 'Metropolis Pt.2' it is not a jammed pack pull of technical wizardry, and unlike Judas Priest's Nostradamus, it doesn't overstay it's welcome. This album simply has some catchy and rockin' tunes that happen to tell a story when listened together, as well as a minority of studio tricks that may take you by surprise, but in no way distract you from the songs. Let us begin.
Concept albums have to have some sort of introduction that differs from regular albums, It's just common knowledge, you can't argue with it. Along Came a Spider is no different, we hear a short police report telling us that some murder's have occurred, and that the diary of the murderer has been found and that his murder's were pulled off very well, and that only 'one thing' led to the capture of this madman. Yup, it's corny. It could be straight out of a 50's horror movie that you find on T.V in the late hours of the night; however it gets the job done, and sets the scene for the album to take place. 'I Know where you live' is the anthem of a stalker, with a catchy riff and some pounding drums to get your attention in the verses whilst Alice does what he does best, singing creepy lyrics with his unique voice tongue firmly in cheek. The Chorus adds to the song too, you're allowed to sing it at the top of your voice, but your neighbours will think your mad.
'Vengeance Is Mine' is a highlight of the album. Slash does what he does best, providing some catchy and vintage licks throughout the duration of the song, whilst Eric Singer introduces the song with pounding drums and keeps the beat. The Chorus is ultimately one of the best the album has to offer and the song as a whole just works well with everything clicking in place.
The album continues in this fashion throughout most of the middle section. You will find enjoyable Guitar work from the likes of 'Wrapped in Silk', some catchy as hell chorus's such as 'catch me if you can', some funky noises ' Wake up dead' and even some ballads from the likes of 'Killed by Love' and 'Salvation'. All songs work well together and none distinguish themselves from the pack from being horribly bad. Which means you won't find yourself pressing the skip button frequently (A characteristic that is good on any album).
After the 70's glam inspired power ballad of 'Salvation' we get to the last song on the album 'I Am the Spider/Epilogue'. A concept album has to have a decent ending, and fortunately this song is the perfect way to end an album as cheesy as this.
We get a slow build up in the verses to allow for some signature cooper singing, which in turn leads into a chorus that can rival the likes of 'Vengeance Is Mine' and 'Catch me if you can'. With his signature snarl letting loose 'I am the Spider!' the ending gets the energy boost needed to let us know the album is finished. Ending with some riffage, orchestral arrangements and feedback, the song finishes and fades out into a spoken passage from none other than the killer himself. I don't want to spoil what is said here, but rest assured it is corny, cheesy and kind of creepy. Long term fans will also understand the 'Welcome to my nightmare' reference spoken at the end.
Whilst it is indeed an enjoyable listen, it is obvious that this won't appeal to everyone. Lot's of people will think it is way too childish to be taken seriously, and others won't think it's heavy enough. I personally highly enjoy the album and see it as a breath of fresh air from the concept albums of today. You don't have to analyse every lyric to understand the story, you don't have to follow the musical passages as they intertwine with emotion and themes. This is 'Along came a Spider's' greatest characteristic, but also it's greatest downfall. Due to the back to basics approach the replay value won't be as high as say 'Metropolis Pt.2'. You won't find new things every time you spin the album and you won't pick up on lyrics you missed the first few times round. All in all however don't let this put you off listening, I highly recommend you just rock out and have some fun with this album because I know I have. Just don't expect it to win millions of awards or top greatest album lists in the year 2020. If you're a Cooper fan however, you have to hear this because it is arguably his best performance in years.
'You Trap, You Kill, You Eat, that's what a good spider does...'