Glass Eye

Originally Published: June 2000

Alice Cooper - Brutal Planet (4.5)

Author: Keith Bergman

"After being throughly creeped out by my old man's Alice Cooper 8-tracks as a kid (you wonder how someone becomes a broke, dishevled, anti-social metal nerd in their adult life? Try a steady diet of Flush the Fashion, We sold our souls for Rock and Roll and assorted Zappa albums, all chunking in a infinite loop through the the dubious miracle of the in-dash 8 track deck), I was horrified to see the man sink to he embarrassing level of records like "Trash" and "Hey Stoopid" - namby-pamby kids stuff that even a real-life Wayne and Garth would have laughed at. "Poison"? "Hey Stoopid"? "Feed My Frankenstein"? Please.

Cooper had fallen so far off the give-a-sh*t meter for me that I never bothered to check out "The Last Temptation", skipped chances to pick up the inevitable reissues and remasters, and it was with bored curiousity that I even popped "Brutal Planet" in. What a shock! First and foremost, this would be the most aggressive, most heavy metal record Alice has ever released. Is this a calculated toss to the"kids"? Sure. But it's as if the band clicked on the radio recently, heard what was going on, and decided to show all these snot-noses how radio metal is done. That is to say, this is the Alice Cooper record with the big White Zombie riffs, the modern sounding guitar, the gigantic throbbing bottom end, but with that inimitable croak and those sardonic lyrics dripping over it all, etching Alice into the metal like bubbling acid. Brutal Planet might be the one record a 19 year old Rock 106 and his old man could get into.

And the songs are flat out great, no mistake. From the full throttle "Sanctuary" to the Mansonesque seethe of "Gimme" (and that's Mansonesque meaning, " Here's the creepy stuff Manson stole from Alice Cooper, done by the master") this is head-banging, angry, loud as f*ck and eminently qualified to blast out of your car speakers all summer. And talk about sending Manson back to day care, "Cold Machines" takes that bouncing "Beautiful People" beat and actually takes the time to write a song around it, complete with a bigger than life chorus and enough sinister malevolence to remind us all why this frightened people so badly back in the day.

Even the lyrics have been honed to a keen edge, offering a leather gloved middle finger to the excesses of the modern world (or, if you prefer, the brutal planet). "Eat Some More" is a nauseating chunk of gluttony with more rotting food images than I care to deal with before lunchtime, "Cold Machines" updates the Police's "Miss Gradenko" to tell a sad unrequited love story in the middle of an apocalyptic, bar-coded and cubicled future, and the old school "Took It Like A Woman" revisits "Only Women Bleed" - taking the hacneyed "power ballad" concept and shoving the listener's head, Inquisition style, under the surface to see abuse, pain, and degradation beneath the placid surface.

Okay, so "It's the Little Things" isn't all that great, though it does rock in a bubblegum kind of way. And this whole modernized, updated Alice Cooper sound is probably gonna make the purists retch and twitch like they did when Blackie Lawless quit writing paens to his c*ck and got serious, or when Motorhead dared to continue without Fast Eddie. You know what? F*ck 'Em. "Brutal Planet" is a looming monster of a record, a slab of metallic fury and finesse from a man who's apparently got more tricks up his sleeve."