Brutally brilliant: The first album of his second coming
B. S. Marlay | Sydney, Australia | 08/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the turn of the century it had been six years since Alice Cooper had released an album (the oddly old-fashioned `Last Temptation'). For such a momentous occasion - his return - he chose to do so with the howling industrial metal onslaught of `Brutal Planet'.
`Brutal Planet' largely jettisons the tongue in cheek maestro of shock rock for an approach that uses these cold harsh industrial tones to address social woes that were clearly close to Old Black Eyes' heart as he faced the dawn of a new millennium. And in doing so, Cooper delivered one of the very best albums he has ever recorded. He ferociously heralded his second coming.
The new sound is deceptive at first listen. It sounds heavy and inaccessible. But after a few spins, it is clear that Alice's commitment to melody is still present and his lyrics have a serious maturity about them - though he still has the odd wink at his audience once in a while.
The songs are mostly co-written by Cooper and the album's producer, Bob Marlette. The infectious title track opener sets the scene with an examination of the conundrum of all the hideous brutality that takes place on planet earth while, at the same time, extreme beauty and acts of extreme beauty abound. It takes the form of Alice expounding on the horror in the verses, while in the choruses, God (a woman) replies by reassuring him about the beauty. It undoubtedly nods to Cooper's Christian rebirth, but it is done with great subtlety (though the final verse almost goes too far).
From here he examines the phenomenon of racial hatred and violence (`Wicked Young Man'), articulating his disdain for blame-laying -"It's not the games that I play, the movies I see, the music I dig, I'm just a wicked young man". `Sanctuary' looks at men who are slaves to the corporate machine, `Blow Me A Kiss' looks at bigotry and intolerance, `Eat Some More' criticizes the wanton waste of the western world, `Pick up the Bones' is about the victims of war, `Gimme' is about the phenomenon of living beyond your means and the excellent science-fiction flavoured `Cold Machines' looks at the escalating depersonalisation of modern life. A lighter tone is supplied in `It's the Little Things', which deals with everyday frustration. The only low point is the well-meaning but dated and maudlin foray into domestic violence, `Take it Like a Woman'.
Some versions of this album come with the outstanding bonus track, `Can't Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me' a fun, funky and creepy expose on insomnia that rounds the set out beautifully.
I was not really a fan of Cooper, nor was I into metal when I bought this album. But now I am a disciple in the Church of Alice. Like all the best albums, `Brutal Planet' is definitely a grower. Excitingly brilliant.