Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review: "Alice Cooper, Volume I: Welcome to My Nightmare"

Editor's Note: Normally, I keep my music writings  and book writings separate, but I thought this would have some crossover appeal, so I'm sharing here, as well. Enjoy.

Though I was at one time an avid comic collector and reader, and I’m a lifelong fan of hard rock and metal, I had never read the Alice Cooper comic series. Recently, a co-worker, knowing my proclivities for both comics and rock, gifted me with “Alice Cooper, Volume I: Welcome to my Nightmare” ($24.99, Dynamite).

The first thing that struck me about this collection was that it was a gorgeous presentation. The hardcover collects the first six issues of the Dynamite Alice Cooper comic, along with a bonus featuring Alice’s first comics appearance with Marvel in the 1970s.

The story arc of the newer comics features Alice as the Lord of Nightmares. Trapped in a bad contract by a trio of devilish agents known as Clan Black, he has fallen into obscurity. That is, until a young man who is being bullied discovers Alice’s music and accidentally summons him from the Nightmare Place for help, freeing him from his contract with Lucius Black, but opening Alice and the young man, Robbie, up to danger from the other two members of the clan.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Anthrax, "For All Kings"

In the 1980s, Anthrax rested, arguably, at the bottom of the Big Four totem pole. When they wanted to be, they could be just as dark, political and technical as their contemporaries Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, but they were really a different animal.

Aside from being the only member of the Big Four not born on the West Coast, Anthrax was made up of a group of oddball guys who liked to have fun and be goofy from time to time. Whether it be a rap song where a band member messed up the rhymes at the end of each verse (“I’m the Man”) or a twangy, Western-inspired ode to Tipper Gore and the PMRC (“Startin’ Up a Posse”), the New York boys didn’t always take themselves so seriously. Perhaps the fact that they were open to doing funny things their partners in crime were not ultimately led some in the uber-serious thrash crowd to not take Anthrax quite as seriously as those other three.

When it comes to staying power, though, none of those other bands have been able to hang with Anthrax. Over the course of their last three records, Anthrax has consistently produced far better music than any of their contemporaries, and I might argue that it’s some of the best music of their career.