Alice Cooper

Along Came a Spider

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Throughout his long career, Alice Cooper has taken full advantage of how concept albums allow for more ambitious songwriting and memorable, layered characters who get more than one song to tell their stories. They're always tortured stories with social outcasts rebelling against turbulent childhoods or other traumatic whatnot, but this time the stakes are much higher. Along Came a Spider tells the story of an eccentric serial killer who suffers from the exact opposite of arachnophobia and lives by the spider's code of "You trap, you kill, you eat." How he got there and why he chose spiders is a story better heard from Alice -- that is, if you're an undying fan of his less accessible concept piece From the Inside or his phantasmagorical horror show Welcome to My Nightmare. Spider has as few hooks as Inside and more than twice the sinister moments found on Nightmare, all delivered with a post-Rob Zombie attitude that allows things to get a little more brutal, more alt-metal. While the casual fan will feel that some of the less gripping songs are just here to move the story along, fanatics will gush as Alice once again acts as host and narrator and revives the character Steven, the young boy who broke all his toys on Nightmare. With a serial killer as lead and titles like "(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side" and "The One That Got Away," Alice fills his lyrics with clever and gruesome wordplay, but the winner here is the only plausible single, "Wake the Dead," which shockingly and shamelessly borrows the bassline from the Chemical Brothers' "Let Forever Be." Guitarist Slash, Kiss drummer Eric Singer, and background vocalist extraordinaire Bernard Fowler all make appearances, while Renaissance man Danny Saber handles the production with co-producer Greg Hampton, which appropriately sounds soundtrack big. An easy recommendation for fan club members and/or serial killers. Everyone else has two or three better Cooper concepts to devour first.

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