Paranormal (2017)

Paranormal Album Cover

Background

 

Paranormal is the 27th studio album by Alice Cooper (both as a band and a solo artist) and was released in July 2017.  Unlike previous albums Welcome 2 My Nightmare and Along Came A Spider, Paranormal is not a concept album and instead simply contains a collection of rock songs.  It is therefore much more in keeping with the likes of The Eyes Of Alice Cooper and Dirty Diamonds.

 

This album was released under the Ear Music label and things got off to a somewhat shaky start when the cover was revealed, featuring a computer generated double-headed Alice (one looking solemn-faced and the other in classic Alice ’snarl’ pose).  I think it was fair to say that this wasn’t what many fans were after as, to them; it was a hint of a possible comedy / parody album.  Combine this with song titles like Genuine American Girl (which sounded suspiciously similar to the love/hate The Saga Of Jesse Jane from Dirty Diamonds) and expectations amongst some fans begun to lower before they’d heard a single second of the new material!   

 

One good thing about the cover though is that the image of Alice contrasted nicely with the white background and this had quite a positive impact when it was stacked on the shelves in record stores.  This may possibly have helped the album achieve strong sales in the weeks following its release, with it featuring in numerous top 10 charts across the world.

 

The album saw Alice collaborate with a number of artists, including Tommy Henriksen (from the Alice Cooper Band), Larry Mullen (U2), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Roger Glover (Deep Purple) and Steve Hunter (a long-time contributor to all things Alice Cooper).  Most excitingly of all though was the return of former Alice Cooper Group members Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neal Smith, who all feature on Rats and 2 bonus tracks (Genuine American Girl and You And All Of Your Friends) on a 2nd disc (Dennis also features on The Sound Of A). 

 

Nestled alongside the new Group material on disc 2 are 6 live tracks, but they are sadly only much-played solo tracks taken from the 2016 Spend The Night With Alice Cooper tour at Columbus, Ohio.  It would have been much more fitting if the live tracks were those of the ‘Live From The Astroturf’ Group performance at Good Records, Dallas in 2015.

 

Paranormal

 

The title track kicks the album off, with a subdued guitar solo quickly building in momentum before we get our first listen of Alice’s vocals.  Thankfully, he remains in fine and creepy form at the tender age of 69 as he reveals his latest power, the ability to lovingly haunt from beyond the grave!   

 

This sort of plays out like a miniature Iron Maiden track with the song having notably defined segments, including a sizable mid-track guitar solo.  This is something not really seen before in an Alice track and does seem somewhat forced on the first few listens.  It does just about work though and this is a really good album opener.

 

Rating: 8 Skulls

 

Dead Flies

 

This one is short and sharp at only 2 minutes and 22 seconds, with Alice appearing to warn us of the horrors that the internet has to offer!  It’s nicely delivered, and over before you know it, but not before a full assault on the ears!

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

Fireball

 

Wow, where did this one come from?  Things really step up a notch with this stunning track, which is actually a cover of a little know song by DDP guitarist Rick Tedesco, having originally been penned for use by non-other than Dennis Dunaway.

 

As the title suggest, this is about a biblical-sized Fireball plummeting to the Earth and wiping out everything in its path.  Alice’s voice is manipulated somewhat to give us a Strokes style sound, not a problem though as it sounds great.  This is a very listenable, very cool, track and one of the best things Alice has done for many years. 

 

Rating: 10 Skulls

 

Paranoiac Personality

 

The first single from the album is a straight-up rocker and closely resembles I’ll Bite Your Face Off from Welcome 2 My Nightmare.  Whilst it still won’t win any prizes for style or originality, it’s much better than IBYFO and has some good quirky production, lyrics and vocals (I particularly like it when Alice switches the lyrics to “Personoiac Paronality” towards the end).

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

Fallen In Love

 

This track is instantly likeable, with a big-guitar, classic rock, feel to it and some ‘Easter Egg’ mentions of previous Alice albums and songs.  I think this would sound sensational as a live track and sincerely hope it makes an appearance in the near future.

 

Rating: 9 Skulls

 

Dynamite Road

 

Another short track at 2 minutes and 43 seconds and an instantly similar feel to A Runaway Train from Welcome 2 My Nightmare.  This time Alice relives his earlier days on the road, fuelled by alcohol, women and danger, whilst cruising in a Cadillac. 

 

Rating: 6 Skulls

 

Private Public Breakdown

 

This one is a bit of slow-burner and is probably the weakest track on the album, in my opinion.  There’s nothing particularly bad about it, but it’s fairly unexceptional and simply fails to compete with the much stronger material available elsewhere.  

 

Rating: 6 Skulls

 

Holy Water

 

This track appears to have divided fans more than any other on the album, with parallels drawn with the comedic-styled Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever and Ghouls Gone Wild from Welcome 2 My Nightmare.  This is simply unfair though as Holy Water is a much better track, that is far more witty with Alice at his showman-like, psychotic-sounding, best.

 

Like Fireball, this is actually also a cover (albeit personalised) of an existing song, having been previously released a year earlier by the American rock band Villebillies

 

Rating: 8 Skulls

 

Rats

 

This is another sub-3-minute rocker that is dedicated to our furry little rodent friends.  It’s totally bonkers, it makes no sense at all, but is absolutely brilliant and so catchy that you’ll be tapping your feet and bopping your head in no time at all!        

 

Rating: 8 Skulls

 

The Sound Of A

 

After the hustle and bustle of Holy Water and Rats, The Sound Of A is a seismic shift into the tranquil world of Deep Purple with haunting guitars and vocals to match.

 

I’m not fully clear on what ‘The Sound Of A’ actually is, but I’m happy to work on the simple basis that A is for Alice and that he’s singing about himself!  

 

Rating: 8 Skulls

 

Genuine American Girl

 

This track allegedly started life as ‘I Wanna Genuine American’ but was changed to place Alice as the Genuine American Girl.  As stated above, this inevitably creates comparisons with The Sage Of Jesse Jane (some of the lyrics are also similar to Love Should Never Feel Like This from The Eyes Of Alice Cooper) but they are actually very different songs, with this one being much better. 

 

It’s a real toe-tapping, radio friendly, track with an acceptable level of humour and the Group members all play with great synergy after all these years.  This is definitely one of the strongest tracks on the album!

 

Rating: 8 Skills

 

You And All Of Your Friends

 

The album comes to a close with this decent, angst-filled, rocker which appears to have some political undertones!  This one is a real grower and another really solid effort by the surviving Group members.  It certainly begs the question of what else could be achieved given the opportunity!     

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

OVERALL ALBUM RATING: 8 SKULLS          

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