Friday, 23 March 2012

Alice Cooper: 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare' - A Review

I was lucky enough, last year, to get the special fan-pack edition of this album, complete with album, magazine, mask, make-up, and a poster with MY name on it (due to pre-order special). And do you know what? It's brilliant. Here's why....

'Welcome 2 My Nightmare' is an excercise in nostalgia, and yet, despite being a sequel and homage to the classic 'Welcome To My Nightmare' album, it feels completely fresh, exciting, and different.

Opening with the chilling ballad 'I Am Made Of You', the album draws the listener in through atmosphere and suspense rather than an in-your-face explosion. It's very subtle, lyrically almost like a goodnight prayer, before the real nightmare begins...

The hard rock truly kicks in with track 2, 'Caffeine', co-written with Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson. A hyperactive song about Alice being too afraid to sleep, 'Caffeine' is full of twisting riffs and blistering solos. It's catchy as Hell, and rather funny too...

Original Alice Cooper band members Neal Smith, Dennis Dunway and Michael Bruce have also contributed to a few songs on this album, the first example being the track 'Runaway Train'. The lyrics deal with Alice entering this train and riding deeper into this nightmarish world he so fears, before the train crashes! Perhaps due to the fact that the original band members feature on this song, 'Runaway Train' is very straight-up hard rock. All riffs and solos, with a simple, driving beat. Great stuff!

One of the many things this album does so well is provide variety. Amongst the hard'n' heavy tracks like 'The Congregation', which features a nice cameo from Rob Zombie, or 'When Hell Comes Home', which is doomy and heavy as Hell, is 'Last Man On Earth'. In the song, Alice thinks he's literally the last man on earth, and he is loving every second of it! What makes the track so unique is the music - very New Orleans Jazz. No guitars or drums here! It's a very unusual sound for Alice, and it's all the better for it. Catchy and brilliantly snarled through by Alice, this stands out as a personal favourite.

'I'll Bite Your Face Off' is the obvious hit single of the album, again featuring Dunway, Neal and Bruce on the instruments. Catchy riffage, pounding drums, and a beautiful piano interlude, not to mention a truly vicious chorus, this is a masterclass in classic rock, and sounds both fresh and old-school simultaneously.

'Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever' is my favourite song off the album, and also boasts the best title! Essentially about Alice carrying out his revenge on disco music, this tune is ironically a heavy metal disco song! Former Marilyn Manson and current Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 unleashes a blistering guitar solo towards the end of the song, guaranteed to get heads banging everywhere!

And from disco metal to surfer metal! 'Ghoul's Gone Wild' is heavy beach rock with a ghoulish twist - a song about zombified dead girls! This is a great, upbeat tune about dead girls falling apart (!), and Alice falling in love with one of them, and leads nicely into this album's main ballad, 'Something to Remember Me By'. A haunting love song that Alice is singing to a piece of leftover dead girl, it was actually written in 1973, but dug out for this album because it fitted the concept.

'What Baby Wants' is the most perverse track on 'Nightmare 2...'. Alice doing a duet with sexy young cool thing Ke$ha, and singing into a vocoder, is just wrong on every level. And that is why it works so much. It's so Alice Cooper because it shouldn't work, and yet it does. Ke$ha clearly relishes playing the Devil on this song, too. Very enjoyable!

The final track proper of the album (aside the bonus tracks and 'The Underture' - a glorious instrumental medley of songs from both 'Nightmare...' albums), 'I Gotta Get Outta Here', essentially draws everything to a close. Every previous song is referenced, and it's a superb summary of the album as a whole. The final bombshell, the last big revaltion about the whole nightmare, is both hilarious and terrifying at the same time.

Bonus Track 'Under The Bed' is a straight-up spooky rock song, with chilling lyrics and heavy guitars bringing the nightmares to life. 'Poison Live At Download 2011' is a nice slice of Alice Cooper live, offering a brief insight into his live shows.

'Welcome 2 My Nightmare' is a massively varied, hugely enjoyable album that will appeal to rockers and metalheads of all ages. Alice, his bandmembers and special guests all put in top-notch performances in their respective fields, and they all prove there's still life in the old ghoul yet. A modern classic!

  Track Listing:
1. I Am Made of You
2. Caffeine
3. The Nightmare Returns
4. A Runaway Train
5. Last Man on Earth
6. The Congregation
7. I’ll Bite Your Face Off
8. Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever
9. Ghouls Gone Wild
10. Something To Remember
11. When Hell Comes Home
12. What Baby Wants
13. I Gotta Get Outta Here
14. The Underture