Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell 3: The Monster is Loose (2006)

1. The Monster is Loose
2. Blind as a Bat
3. It's All Coming Back to Me Now
4. Bad for Good
5. Cry Over Me
6. In the Land of the Pig, the Butcher is King
7. Monstro
8. Alive
9. If God Could Talk
10. If It Ain't Broke Break It
11. What About Love
12. Seize the Night
13. The Future Ain't What It Used To Be
14. Cry to Heaven

Third Time's The Charm – 8,2/10

Meat Loaf was just doing his thing with all kinds of other albums when suddenly, out of the blue, the third installment in the Bat Out of Hell series was announced. Even noted composer of the first two albums in the series Jim Steinman was apparently caught off guard as lawsuits between the two occurred soon after. What was Meat Loaf thinking using the Bat Out of Hell name for a third time, and this time without new genuine material from his longtime friend Steinman?

Our dearest Meat Loaf has carefully picked a few Steinman songs from the past that he would cover on this album. It was a Bat Out of Hell album after all and it required some over-the-top rock ’n roll epics. Most of it, however, was taken from Steinman’s solo record Bad for Good from 1981 and Pandora’s Box’ sole album Original Sin from 1989. Other tracks like “Cry to Heaven” or “In the Land of the Pig” were demos for a Batman musical due in 2003, but which was cancelled eventually. Steinman’s songs are huge and make the Bat Out of Hell part of this record. The other half is taken care of by notable songwriter Desmond Child and his team. This is what makes the Monster Loose. They introduce a new, catchy, modern rock sound for Meat Loaf that makes him almost sound nu-metal at times. The combination is very refreshing and actually just what the Bat-franchise needed. Where Bat 1 was a downright classic, Bat 2 was a dull attempt at copying part 1 and Bat 3 makes a suiting close to the series and ends it on a high level.

“The Monster is Loose”! Deep, heavy guitar riffs welcome us into this dark track and a bombastic chorus totally masks Meat Loaf’s usually light and cheerful atmosphere. If the name wasn’t on the album cover, we’d hardly recognize his voice. “Blind as a Bat” continues on the dark, modern vibe the title track ignited and shows us Desmond Child has penned Meat some tunes totally equivalent of the post-1977 songs by Jim Steinman, who debuts on this album with 1989’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”, made famous by Céline Dion. Meat’s rendition sounds very theatrical as he engages in a duet with Marion Raven. The second Steinman track is “Bad for Good”, featuring Brian May on guitar. This track was actually meant for the second Meat album and you can hear this old school rock ‘n roll vibe throughout, but the modernized sound doesn’t conceal the song’s a downright epic with energetic themes. Had they used this for Bat 2, that album would’ve been a lot better. These first four songs show the beautiful contrast between Child’s darker, heavier and more modern songs and Steinman’s over-the-top stash of melodic, theatrical rock ‘n roll.

Other notable moments on the record are the previously unheard Steinman track “In the Land of the Pig, the Butcher is King”, featuring the celebrated Steve Vai on lead guitars. It contains some good punch and a haunting atmosphere that fits this record’s dark environment. Desmond Child delivers to highlights with the catchy “Alive” and the gripping “If God Could Talk”. These songs have those bombastic choruses that get stuck in your head without becoming nuisances, if you know what I mean. Steinman again proves himself a master with 1989’s magnum opus “Seize the Night”; a beautiful orchestra introduces the piece that goes through many themes; from small piano-driven passages to dark symphonic rock riffs; from traditional Steinman verses to Latin-choirs at the chorus. From the songs not mentioned, they are almost all a joy for the ear. With talented songwriters like Child and Steinman delivering some of their finest works on this record, you will hear only one track you might want to skip. “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It” is a rock song by Steinman, but has a very weak chorus trying to be heavy and hard but failing completely on both platforms.

In the end, Bat Out of Hell 3: The Monster is Loose is the ultimate classic of modern Meat Loaf. It contains al the Steinman-ness of the previous Bats in high quality, but doesn’t lose its potential of being a rock album first and foremost; something which Meat Loaf is focusing on a lot on his newer records. It’s what I’d call a suitable disclosure for the Bat Out of Hell series and I would highly recommend it to any fan of this singer.

Strongest tracks: “Bad for Good”, “Alive”, “If God Could Talk” and “Seize the Night”.
Weakest track: “If It Ain’t Broke Break It”.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Wayne Static - Pighammer (2011)

1. Pighammer
2. Around the Turn
3. Assassins of Youth
4. Thunder Invader
5. Static Killer
6. She
7. Get It Together
8. Chrome Nation
9. Shifter
10. Slave
11. The Creatures are Everywhere
12. Behind the Sky

Static without the X – 7,2/10

This little piggy had candy…
This little piggy comes home…
This little piggy went around the turn…
And this little piggy went …!

And with this twisted version of the famous little piggy poem Wayne Static introduces us to his long-awaited solo record Pighammer. After the sad breakup of Static-X, Wayne decided to go solo and if anything, Pighammer testifies how Wayne was responsible for Static-X’s trademark sound. The album might not be covering a lot of new territories for Static, but honestly, did anyone ever really expect that?

Static’s career with Static-X had seen highs and lows but ended on a definite low with 2009’s Cult of Static. They were out of fresh ideas and the whole band sounded tired as well. Maybe the breakup was necessary. With Pighammer, Wayne definitely proves he is not weakened by the break-up of his former band. In fact, he just goes on where Static-X left it: heavy industrial metal. This time around, the elements that required the other members have either been erased or replaced. The low growls of Tony Campos, the guitar solos by Koichi Fukuda and the drums of Ken Jay are all gone. Instead we have a drum computer throughout the album and increased electronic elements are passages. This last element is actually quite refreshing and even a little experimental in some tracks.

Wayne doesn’t want to alienate us loyal fans. “Around the Turn” features his trademark barking and a march-like industrial tune to warm us all up for the adventure that is Pighammer. Though the song stands its ground, things are getting more intense with the single “Assassins of Youth”, a song about Wayne’s drug use and how he got rid of his addiction. It’s very powerful and full of adrenaline, which is continued by the energizing “Thunder Invader”. “Static Killer” takes us back to Wisconsin Death Trip-styled industrial with the typical computerized keys and the sexual moans of pornstar Tera Wray-Static in the intro. The song itself is okay, but with “She” the album steps up again. With the spoken word-styled verses and a danceable groove at the chorus, it’s quite a unique song for this record. Further highlights include the hard-as-hell “Chrome Nation” and the very experimental “The Creatures are Everywhere”, which makes more ambient use of the electronic elements. The other tracks are all fine, except for “Get It Together”, which gets on my nerves.

In short, Wayne Static got himself a nice solo record out and it’s not bad at all. If you like Static-X, there is no reason why you wouldn’t like Pighammer, because it has the typical Static-X vibe to most of the tracks. It’s actually a whole lot better than 2009’s Cult of Static and in a way also it’s follow-up. There’s nothing more to say about this album than I already have.

Strongest tracks: “Assassins of Youth”, “Thunder Invader” and “She”.
Weakest tracks: “Get It Together” and “Slave”.