Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008, SPV)
- Prologue/I Know Where You Live
- Vengeance Is Mine
- Wake The Dead
- Catch Me If You Can
- (In Touch With) Your Feminine Side
- Wrapped In Silk
- Killed By Love
- I’m Hungry
- The One That Got Away
- I Am The Spider/Epilogue
Alice Cooper – Lead & Background Vocals
Calico Cooper – Background & Spoken Word Vocals
Bernard Fowler – Background Vocals
Chuck Garric – Bass & Background Vocals
Greg Hampton – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Strings & Background Vocals
Jason Hook – Guitars on ‘(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side’
Keri Kelli – Guitars
Whitey Kirst – Lead Guitar on ‘I’m Hungry’
David Piribauer – Drums
Stefen Presley – B3 Organ on ‘Wrapped In Silk’
Danny Saber – Guitars, Keyboards, Bass & Background Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums
Slash – Lead Guitar on ‘Vengeance Is Mine’
Produced by: Alice Cooper, Greg Hampton & Danny Saber
Total Time = 44:24
2008 has been one of the biggest years for one of the most overdone ideas in Metal…..concept albums. So far this year we have had concept albums from Avantasia, Ayreon, Judas Priest and Iced Earth to name just a few. Metal’s godfather of shock and horror, Alice Cooper, has unleashed his latest terror tale about a serial killer named Spider and his pursuit of female victims. The concept doesn’t stray too far from the Alice norm does it? It’s a natural persona for Alice to portray and the Spider character mirrors an old one (Steven) from the glory days.
ALONG CAME A SPIDER is an album that follows the same formula as 2005’s DIRTY DIAMONDS by bridging Alice’s classic ’70s shock rock sound with a more modern updated sound. Most of the band that creates the musical blueprint has been a part of Alice’s touring ensemble for a number of years: Keri Kelli, Jason Hook, Chuck Garric and Eric Singer…..all are accomplished Hard Rock musicians that have collaborated on Cooper albums over the last decade. There are also a couple of guest musicians here with Slash adding guitar to ‘Vengeance Is Mine’ and an unlisted Ozzy Osbourne providing some harmonica to their writing collaboration on ‘Wake The Dead’.
Opening number ‘Prologue/I Know Where You Live’ sets up the maniacal journey as Spider lets his victims know that he’s watching them…..closely. The prologue is more of an opening intro to set up the overall story and features Alice’s daughter Calico while the proper song sounds like an updated WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE album cut. The song sets up the story as Spider stalks his victims. The most Heavy Metal song on the album is ‘Vengeance Is Mine’ and includes the guest appearance by Slash on lead guitar. ‘Vengeance’ has that modern heavy bite to it even when it breaks down halfway to allow Alice to have a spoken word segment to add the sinister aura. ‘Wake The Dead’ offers a more modern, lightly industrial, style to an upbeat almost danceable mid-’60s to early ’70s Pop tune. The contrast between the concept, lyrics and music put the visions of Spider dancing around taunting and torturing his victims to his delight. Same thing goes for ‘Catch Me If You Can’, the song has its roots in the early Alice Cooper albums but has that modern guitar sound keeping it fresh. You can picture the psychotic Spider gleefully taunting his victims, and the authorities, while he performs his evil deeds and battles his own mind.
‘(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side’ isn’t my favorite song on the album but it keeps the sinister feel going as Spider speaks to one of his victims in an almost “getting to know you” and reassuring tone. Of course, it’s all a ploy to capture yet another unsuspecting innocent female. I like the spiderweb theme with the title of ‘Wrapped In Silk’ and the song reminds of early Alice from KILLER (1971) through GOES TO HELL (1976). The guitar tone sounds like it came straight from that early era and the drums just pound away uneasily. Another song inspired by the classic Cooper era is ‘Killed By Love’, a ballad that sounds strikingly similar to ‘Only Women Bleed’ and ‘I Never Cry’ with Alice actually singing in a more melodic style. Just like the older ballads, ‘Killed By Love’ has that emotional fragility to it that gives the protagonist Spider a more human quality despite his horrific persona.
So far, ALONG CAME A SPIDER is a fairly serious and sinister piece of work and ‘I’m Hungry’ continues that trend but with a fair bit of humor. Spider sings “Gimme, gimme, gimme something to eat…” and we delve into the possible cannibalistic side of the character as he descends further into madness. Listen to the opening guitar line, it reminds me of ‘Refrigerator Heaven’ (1970) and ‘Is It My Body?’ (1971). The end is near as Spider battles with himself as he is stalking another victim during ‘The One That Got Away’. Before he approaches the girl mid-song, Spider goes through all the things that he could do to her, building up to the eventual communication. Calico Cooper guests again as the girl who gets away as Spider uses a similar tactic that Buffalo Bill used in Silence Of The Lambs when he kidnapped the senator’s daughter…..asking for help to his car. The piano based ballad ‘Salvation’ reminds me more of early Alice around the WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE/GOES TO HELL era with the orchestration and melodic singing. ‘I Am the Spider’ finishes the descent into the madness of the serial killer’s mind and the second half, ‘Epilogue’, is spoken word by Alice who sums up his crimes just like a spider behaves: “You trap. You kill. You eat.”. I also like the reference Spider makes to the Steven character that first appears on WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE and makes sporadic appearances throughout Alice’s career.
The serial killer concept really isn’t a new one, even for Alice Cooper, but he pulls it all of perfectly. The sense of evil, deceit, and horror mixed with emotion and a touch of humor all plays into the usual Alice Cooper shock rock theme. Musicianship and production are top level and the songs retain the modern 2008 technique while drawing inspiration from the ’70s Rock heyday. Overall, a really good album with a simple concept that gets a little extra attention with the comparisons to spiders and their behaviors. Of the five albums Alice has released since 2000, ALONG CAME A SPIDER is the best.
Favorite Songs: ‘Vengeance Is Mine’, ‘Catch Me If You Can’, ‘Wrapped In Silk, ‘Killed By Love’, ‘Salvation’