By Bob Nalbandian

Stiff Upper Lip

Upon first listen to the opening notes of the title track, I thought, "Not again! The same old, rehashed riffs thrown together for yet another uninspired AC/DC record." And, after the second track, "Meltdown," I found this truly to be AC/DC at its worst. But my thoughts would soon change for the better with track 3, "House Of Jazz," which thankfully lifted my spirits with its hard-rockin' ZZ/DC sound and style. But it was the opening drum/bass line to track 5, "Safe in New York City," which gave me instant wood (aka: a stiff lower hip.) What a killer groove! This song brought back memories of classic AC/DC--a time when this band had integrity, balls, and youthful lust!

Other than the aforementioned highlights, and "All Screwed Up," this album really offers nothing more than the mediocre riffs this band has dished out over the past decade. But let's get real...I wasn't expecting to hear Let There Be Rock or Powerage, and I suppose one should be thankful the band hasn't altered their trademark sound into some spineless, commercial rubbish like other bands from their genre (yes, I'm speaking of Aerosmith.) So, one must applaud them for sticking to their guns.

Brutal Planet

This is a pleasant artist getting heavier with age. Brutal Planet finds the Coop heavier than ever (heavier music wise...not fat wise. Alice is still a skinny runt.) The opening title track is simply...brutal! Displaying a truly awesome riff with a great chorus and cool lyrics. "Sanctuary," "Wicked Young Man," and "Gimme" follow in a similar metallic fashion. I am pleasantly shocked, indeed! The music is still Alice, only beefed up and with a much more modern production. The vocals are undeniably Alice, with his unique lyrical hooks and humorous ramblings. This is what I refer to as maturing with age...A new sound that is fresh, aggressive and current, without losing the infamous Alice style and genius.

"Blow Me A Kiss" and "Cold Machines" display a semi-industrial side of Alice, ala Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. Alice even borrows the riff in Manson's "Beautiful People." But then again, Marilyn Manson stole everything from Alice, so it's excusable. "Take It Like A Woman" is a strong ballad, the millennium version of "Only Women Bleed," if you will (and, no, this song isn't about some chick on the rag, either.)

It really is great to see Alice sounding stronger than ever before. And it's damn good to see that Alice has not sold out and softened his sound, like so many other bands from that genre (of course, I'm speaking of Aerosmith.)

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