Various Artists - Welcome To The Nightmare - An All Star Salute To Alice Cooper
It seems the comical glut of tribute albums has subsided, each new one being a little more of an event again. Cleopatra/Magick have been guilty of crap ones as well as good ones, and hopefully this one means they have settled at the raised bar. The red leatherette packaging fortunately hides a lousy official CD cover, and then there's the music. Ronnie James Dio opens the show with a remarkable Elf-era style croon to the title track. As we move through, one sees a combination of recent recordings and a compiling of older Cooper covers. Children Of Bodom's Bed Of Nails is a treat, as is Icarus Witch's explosive Roses On White Lace. Bruce does Black Widow with a powerhouse dream band supergroup and it's cool hearing ex-Pistol Steve Jones sing Elected. Vince Neil on top of Cold Ethyl swings as well, whereas Dead Babies by Iced Earth and 'School's Out' fronted by Mustaine falter (and Under My Wheels just blows). I dunno, I wish two things: 1) that these things could find a way around using that same bright but facile Protooled drum sound, and 2) a bit more adventure... does anybody remember Nativity In Black?
Mudvayne - Lost And Found
From the graphics and band look (and regular names) on down through the music, Lost And Found marks a Mudvayne less exotic and more regular rockin' than the band that cooked up The End Of All Things To Come. And with Slipknot, Mudvayne are survivors in nu-metal, this record entering the Billboard charts at an astounding #2. Personally, I liked the guys more as whack explorers of proggy nu-metal possibility, even though there's still a bunch of that here as one digs deeper. So yes, along with thrashy vocals and the band's patented circular down-tuned riffs and challenging rhythms, there's radio-ripped song discipline, the guys reaching out with melodies, clean vocals, pregnant pauses and accessible punch, all the while dishing multiple mouthfuls of words all about depression, anger, anguish and stress seven ways to doomsday. And bass virtuoso Ryan Martinie is perhaps the central figure in this controlled churning swirl, his clacky high register work protecting the band's moderate to high level of distinction as the NWOUSHM threatens to usurp Mudvayne's moshpitted Dr. Phil sermons.