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Album Review: Alice Cooper – Paranormal

3 min read
Photo: Rob Fenn / Outside Organisation

It may not be Halloween yet, but that isn’t stopping Alice Cooper from releasing his 20th studio album – and his first original material for 6 years. Paranormal features members from ZZ Top, U2 and Deep Purple, all of whom have come back together to lend a hand to the Godfather of Shock Rock.

The titular track channels the likes of rock greats Queen, whilst staying true to Cooper’s signature style. The vocals are brooding lyrics about skin and bones, but it becomes a little predictable and School Of Rock in places. Alice Cooper has had a decade spanning career, but this genre of rock doesn’t seem to be standing the test of time. The same can also be said for ‘Dead Flies’ which kicks in with all the spirit of a young adult, but the lyrical content remains firmly in the golden age of 80s rock.

‘Fireball’ is a true highlight, thrashing itself to life like a rebellious ghoul. By drenching the vocal in a more hesitant delivery, Cooper has a real contender of a track on his hands. But it needed to have really cut loose during the chorus for this to be as explosive as the fireball it is named after. ‘Fallen In Love’ follows on well, and is the first real glimpse of a modern rock song we have seen so far. By diversifying his sound to include a more country style, Cooper opens the floodgates to a fresh batch of potential listeners and lovers.

As an anxious person, I can highly relate to a track named ‘Private Public Breakdown’, and this track is reminiscent of those agitated moments of panic that can occur in stressful situations. There is nothing more Alice Cooper, than Alice Cooper singing a song called ‘Rats’. Beginning with a subtle ode to the creatures who give this it’s name, Cooper goes all out rodent on this tune. Thrashing about, being dirty and loud, Cooper could easily be singing about any number of modern politicians and public figures here. Alice Cooper is able to bring a collective of people to the same conclusions about subject matter, without explicitly or directly doing such – a skill that is hard to express with as much apparent ease as this.

Alice Cooper has contributed a great deal to the music industry during his years, and that is to be seriously commended. But unfortunately for Mr Cooper, the world has moved on a significant amount since his heyday, making Paranormal a good record – but sadly – not a great one. It’s 2017, it might be time for him to put down the eyeliner and try his hand at something a little less niche.

The closing moments of Paranormal are reserved almost exclusively for Alice Cooper super fans, as he has kindly bolted on a number of live tracks that will make his adoring fans weak at the knees. But as they mix classics with new material, it can’t help but be said they feel like an unnecessary kitchen sink bolt-on, more to pacify than to enjoy. Paranormal is actually rather ordinary, and the shock tactics are now wearing a little thin Mr Cooper.