Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Review: Alice Cooper - Welcome 2 My Nightmare

 Creating an album set to be a sequel to 1975's critically acclaimed Welcome to My Nightmare was never going to be an easy task, however veteran shock rocker Alice Cooper took on the idea of doing so with 26th solo release Welcome 2 My Nightmare, and it's very much a hit and miss album.
 There are plenty of hit moments to be found, however and it does pain me to say this but the one person who does not create any of these moments is Cooper himself. It pains me to say it, since the guy is pretty much a rock and roll hero. His stage antics and rock anthem collections have become legendary. As Rob Zombie stated: "He's the guy who invented the Rock n' Roll show." But Welcome 2 My Nightmare really does not show him at his best. The musicians who do make the hit moments and believe me the list is long, manage to create a very gripping backdrop with some cool classic hard rock elements. These people include producer Bob Ezrin, various previous band members, including Michael Bruce on guitar, Dennis Dunaway on bass and Neal Smith on drums, as well as a range of guest musicians including guitarist John 5, bassist Piggy D, country guitarist Vince Gill, and backing vocals from Zombie himself. There is a collaboration on this album that I'm really not keen on, but we'll get to that later. These musicians with many others help add a sense of depth and sincerity to the songs on the album best demonstrated in tracks like When Hell Comes Home and The Congregation, but also manage to help elevate the insanity and over-the-top feeling on the tracks where such an effect is to be desired, such as Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever and Caffeine. However, even the musicians can sometimes have the tendency to spice things up leaving the songs sounding uninteresting with the feeling of an overall lack of effort.
 Bringing us to the performance of Cooper himself. God bless, Cooper's a great guy and has become a legend but perhaps he may be past it now. The only songs in which his guttural-melodic vocals suit on this album are in the songs intended to be over-the-top and ridiculous, the lyrics are very often questionable at best, the intended  sections of humour lead to confusion before laughter and the ultimate sign that he may be past it is in the constant use of auto-tune for his vocals. The auto-tuned vocals are incredibly distracting, annoying and takes away from the engagement of songs that the rest of the band manage to create. It really shows that Cooper is perhaps starting to lose his vocal talents.
 Speaking of lack of talent, overuse of auto-tune and generally being annoying, let's talk about the collaboration I'm really not keen on! The track What Baby Wants sees Cooper collaborate with chart pop superstar, Ke$ha. Having heard all her hit songs as they are horrifically pop up on the radio, I could write pages on why I hate her music, so naturally, I was put off when I saw that she was going to appear as a guest vocalist on this album. On What Baby Wants, her guest appearance does suit the overall vibe of the song. Of course the song is extremely annoying. it sounds like a cheesy party song from the 1970s and auto-tune is so prominent on the track, it's often hard to tell Cooper and Ke$ha's vocals apart when they sing in unison. It's as disappointing as the original concept of the song.
 So, while Welcome 2 My Nightmare has it's strengths, they are not coming from the right places. It's an Alice Cooper album, so Alice Cooper should be the star of the show, but is instead weak, annoying and feels overall out of place. Which is a really worrying sign.

Alice Cooper's Welcome 2 My Nightmare is out now via Bigger Picture

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