Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
The double edged sword of accessibility is one to always be wary of, in art it can be both a boon and a curse and the sad tales of those that have tread along the metaphorical boards in once former heavy Doc Martens only to trade them in for the softer furnishings of a pair of fluffy slippers are littered along the sides of regret and ambition.
Sometimes being suddenly accessible does not work out for the best, you can lose the mantle you have carefully placed yourself on and you become mainstream, every song you release or gets played off a new album is cheered on and often in quarters that you would rather see eradicated off the planet, or at least refused at the electronic store when trying to purchase a new radio. The double edge sword, Damocles wasn’t warned about producing something so terrific, so enjoyable that it might get into the wrong hands.
Alice Cooper’s Paranormal is just that, an album of absolute integrity, of genuine cool and the dedicated promise that every single track is one that any listener would enjoy, in that lies the rub, for any fan who respects the ringmaster of the Metal shock circus, all the boys that adores the growl of Poison or Billion Dollar Babies, for all the girls that love Alice to the point of ecstasy and who have followed the career of one of the dominant forces of the 20th and early 21st Century, knowing full well that not every song is meant to be liked, let alone approved of, this is going to be a fright.
For whilst every song is quite simply, incredible, it will bring out the ne’er do wells who have never given Alice Cooper a chance before. Like Metallica’s Black Album, sometimes becoming radio approachable completely, by being seen as user friendly, straightforward and nice, the back door is going to open to abuse, and not of the friendly kind.
In the end it probably won’t matter, for the album is up there with the aforementioned Billion Dollar Babies as being the best that the creative genius has released, its presence is like a black panther pacing silently through the jungle, swift, sleek, sheer, mesmerising, dangerous, the pair of black stocking in animal form, each song screams out in the dark, come play with me and in the end, like a willing participant in your own murder, you go along for the ride.
Paranormal is an album of utter bang on delivery, songs such as Dead Flies, Dynamite Road, Private Public Breakdown and The Sound of A capture the detail of the 21st Century oblivion and it is great to relish being blown away by the musical missile to come; it just is a shame that it will bring along Damocles’ sword in its sheath for company.
Ian D. Hall