Sunday, September 13, 2015

Reviews- Slayer/ Repentless and (Alice Cooper) Hollywood Vampires/ Hollywood Vampires

Slayer/ Repentless (Nuclear Blast, 2015)

Released fourteen years to the day of God Hates Us All, Slayer's twelfth studio album sees them mining the same depths as ever. Lots has changed in the world of Slayer in the six years since their last album. Guitarist Jeff Hanneman died and drummer Dave Lombardo left amidst online drama about being cheated out of millions in touring revenue. Exodus' Gary Holt replaced Hanneman and expatriate Paul Bostaph returned. Bostaph left in the end of 2001 after an eight year run, which also kinds of brings us back to God Hates Us All, which was the last album that he played on.

Slayer's weakest albums have been the ones were Hanneman was coasting and Kerry King wrote the bulk of the material. Think Diabolus In Musica and you are halfway there. This album starts out strong. Title track Repentless is fast and brutal and holds up to their best songs, while Take Control sounds like it could have come off of any Slayer album released during this century. When The Stillness Comes is the worst Slayer songs in years, sounding like it would have fit in on Diabolus In Musica. Implode is nice and fast. Atrocity Vendor is great. The intro sounds like something off of Show No Mercy and then it goes into full Thrash mode. Pride In Prejudice is a boring end to the album with generic '90s chug riffing.

Lyrically this album is among the least Satanic that the band has ever done. Themes of life, death, and mortality are at the forefront, understandable considering the events of the past few years. Production wise things seem flat, boring sterile digital recording with everything in the reds, par for the course for Metal in the past 20 years.

Gary Holt's leads are interesting. While he didn't write anything for this album his contributions certainly couldn't hurt the next album. Paul Bostaph is a more technical drummer than Dave Lombardo. Every fill is perfect. Lombardo's chaotic vibe lent an air of danger to the proceedings, like a train about to go off of the rails. Slayer with Bostaph was always more sure footed but never as interesting.

Credit where credit is due. Slayer deserve props for still playing fast and never selling out like some Thrash bands did. They have become some kind of Classic Rock Thrash, the AC/DC of the genre if you will. One album doesn't sound drastically different than the next but all of them are enjoyable enough to warrant you buying the next one. This is fun to play in your car even if you have become too old to be a member of the Slaytanic Wehrmacht. Reports of Slayer's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The cover of the slipcase,

The OCD zone- I am not sure which of the forty versions of the album I bought. It is a CD with a slipcase, no DVD. Standard jewel case and a booklet with pictures and complete lyrics. There are a zillion different configurations of this release.

(Alice Cooper) Hollywood Vampires/ Hollywood Vampires (John Varatos/ Republic/ Universal, 2015)

A concept album taken to the extreme, the new Alice Cooper album doesn't even feature his name on the title or the spine. It is being billed as a debut album of a supergroup but who knows. It certainly boasts an all star lineup. The Hollywood Vampires were a notorious west coast drinking club during Rock and Roll's late '60s/early '70s heyday. Everyone who was anyone was there, and they are all represented here by covers. Alice dubbed his backing band The Hollywood Vampires on his mid-70s solo albums as a tribute to them. Everything that Alice does is theatrical, even cover albums. Typically the domain of washed up artists with nothing new to say, cover albums are usually product and nothing more. Alice does his as a tale of ghosts of the past.

It is tough to top the original versions of My Generation or Whole Lotta Love, but Alice has balls enough to try. One/Jump In The Fire are a great reinterpretation, with Alice doing great creepy sounding vocals on One. It is also interesting that Alice chose songs by two different artists (Three Dog Night and Harry Nilsson) and paired them together, as they both share names with songs by Metallica. Strange. Alice covers himself, with School's Out/Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, keeping the medley that he has been doing live over the past few years intact. I don't believe that Pink Floyd were ever a part of the west coast thing but I could be mistaken.

There are two new songs, Raise The Dead and Dead Drunk Friends, both of which serve to remind us that it has been four years since the last Alice Cooper album and that I want to hear a new album sooner than later. They are the best songs on the album, as the covers on this album are nearly all standards and the originals are burned into the brains of folks. If Motley Crue ever finish their farewell tour (Alice has been special guest on it for the past two years) maybe Alice will find time to make an album of new material. In the meantime we have Hollywood Vampires to tide us over.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Standard jewel case with a booklet. 

1 comment:

  1. I ordered Hollywood Vampires ages ago, and Amazon still hasn't shipped it....But I'm glad to hear that you liked it. I've been looking forward to it ever since it was announced.