Mutations: A Tribute to Alice Cooper is a textbook case of goth club-friendly artists phoning in "spooky" cover versions in an attempt at both irony and affection. Without differences in sound or atmosphere, the measuring stick for quality is essentially song length. Where something like Slick Idiot's "Under My Wheels" seems to make it to the end without dropping the listener's interest, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult's "Hallowed Be My Name" loses steam only a minute into the song. The covers here lack any guts, mixing out any abrasiveness from the songs and keeping the instruments sounding limp and uninspired. A few songs take stabs at breaking out of the mold, but these tracks are rare and hard to wait for. Tub Ring offers a punk revival twist on their otherwise pedestrian "Poison," Noizfaction actually injects some ugliness into their angular take on "I Love the Dead," Texylvania attempts a '70s Detroit vibe on their version of "Under My Wheels," and wily old Chris Connelly fitfully treats "Hard Hearted Alice" like a David Bowie ballad. But of these tracks, only Connelly and Noizfaction do anything engaging, with the other experiments coming off as forced or awkward. Despite being a tribute to Alice Cooper, the real lesson learned here isn't about the influence of Uncle Alice on a generation of angry young men. His amazing charisma and influential theatrics are lost on most of the artists found here, replaced with a bland "darkness" that erases the tongue-in-cheek vibe of his material. The real lesson learned here is how generic and uninspired the industrial scene became around the turn of the century. Everything is moody vocals and throbbing keyboards, with the time-tested art of sampling, experimentation, and ugly noises slowly being taken away from the genre. Ten years before this, who could have guessed that the future of industrial music lied in Nitzer Ebb? No matter what angle Mutations is looked at, it is a flawed tribute that may appeal to a small group of listeners, but nothing more.
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AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano