Greetings, Glancers! Not that I’ve heard the album as yet so I can’t say for sure, but I’m already wondering why this album is so high on Popoff’s list. I’ve no doubt it was influential and I know it was successful – but I have sever doubts over whether or not it’s any good given what songs I’ve heard by Motley Crue and the fact that it’s influence probably only spread as far as making wuss metal popular. I mean, look at that front cover – are we to take this seriously? We have Thunderdome Cher in the top left, She-Ra’s pre-teen sister top right, bottom right is one a groupie for the WWF’s Road Warriors, while bottom right is a frog masquerading as a human male masquerading as a human female. But that was the style of the time. When I was growing up in the 80s and early 90s as a metal and grunge kid, I wasn’t particularly fussy over how my metal performers looked or even sounded – as long as it was loud, fast, and felt angry and dangerous that was good enough for me. Crue was definitely a band I claimed to like in front of the bigger kids and I would have written their name and logo into my school books. But with time comes maturity, expectation, wisdom, and we begin to cut the chaff away and hone in what we truly feel kinship for. It wasn’t long before Crue went the same way as almost every other Hair and Glam metal band. Looking at that album cover now – there’s nothing rebellious, there’s no danger… it’s merely four blokes asking to be ridiculed.
As for what I know about the songs contained within – there are a few I’ve heard before – the title track, Looks That Kill, and I think I’ve heard their version of Helter Skelter before. Their bigger hits would come later so presumably this is the one where they first got noticed. Part of the reason I embarked on this journey was to fill in the gaps in my own musical knowledge as a fan of music, but more specifically of metal but perhaps more importantly to re-evaluate or challenge my preconceptions or long held opinions on artists I’ve liked or disliked, and see if I feel any different now. So lets do this.
In The Beginning: A brief instrumental intro which presumably tries to be ominous and threatening, but loses any credibility with the cheesy spoken vocals. Still, it does serve well as a bridge to the first track.
Shout At The Devil: There’s a tone, a guitar tone which most hair metal bands have – it lacks the crunch and vicious nature of say, G’n’R. Throw in the screechy indecipherable vocals and you can understand why I’m not overly enamoured by a song which is known to be a classic of the genre. It does succeed in being groovy and has a decent enough series of riffs. What angers me most, personal taste and it goes with most similar artists, is that fist pumping choral vocal – that’s the one quality about 80s metal I can’t abide.
Looks That Kill: Another one I’m familiar with. A fine parade of lead riffs, and the chorus is easily remembered. Lyrically, it does that glam thing of merging sex with your typical violent metal vocabulary and it hasn’t yet been watered down to sub Carry On levels of silliness. It’s very plain, uncomplex, but you can see why it sold so well.
Bastard: This one opens well with drums flashing all over the place. It falls apart a little at the verse as the music pulls back rather than maintaining the pace. The chorus goes a little in the annoying shouty direction, and rather amusingly is sounds like they’re shouting ‘fast’ or ‘plaster’ but certainly not ‘Bastard’. I can imagine all the little rebels fist-pumping to the chorus – it is catchy for its faults, but it’s a little juvenile.
God Bless The Children Of The Beast: This is a genuinely strong instrumental, sweet, nuanced, it’s just a pity it feels like filler in that it doesn’t really go anywhere – it doesn’t try to reach the next level. Maybe it doesn’t need to, but I feel that I’d listen to it more if it went through more dynamic changes. No need for the single line of vocals at the end.
Helter Skelter: Yes it’s the requisite cover. The original somehow feels heavier, even with all the chugging guitars and solos. It’s not bad by any means, but I’d stick to the original.
Red Hot: I think it would unfair to say many of these songs sound unfinished – it’s just that they’re so short. They’re not aggressive enough to be punk, more technical but still basic. They get to the point quickly and without arsing around, but because of that they feel less metal.
Too Young To Fall In Love: I actually think the choral vocals work well here, maybe because it’s not just a single word which is being shouted, maybe because I quite like the melody of the refrain. It’s a song I’d gladly hear again, but another which feels short, undercooked, or like something is missing.
Knock Em Dead Kid: The tone here has more crunch and bite, it does do some of the annoying shouting. The riff is simple and its all very repetitive, yet I don’t mind. Possibly because I don’t remember hearing this before, possibly because the band is winning me over? I wouldn’t go that far. It ends with some standard twiddling.
Ten Seconds To Love: This is as cheesy and silly as the album has been so far, with lots of talk of squeezing triggers and the like. The tone is full glam again and the silly shouts are out in force – this is the bad shit I’ve been talking about.
Danger: This has a spirited intro almost as if they want it to be their epic. Of course it’s only four minutes long so I know it isn’t going to go far. The vocals are terrible, the rougher, edgier guitar tone is thankfully back – the riffs are good again but the chorus melody and attitude is silly. Who says something like ‘you’re in danger when the boys are around’ with a straight face? Or at all? Clean up the vocals and entirely change the chorus and this would be much stronger.
Let’s get this out of the way first – it’s not as embarrassing as I was expecting it to be. I already knew a few of the songs and didn’t have any strong opinions about them either way, but based on other songs by the band I expected it to be more glam nonsense. I suspect because this was earlier in their journey they had more ambition and venom about them which became dulled the richer they became. It’s a surprisingly brief and brisk listen, barely half an hour long. That’s refreshing because there’s no messing about, but the whole and the individual parts feel lightweight. In total, it isn’t as bad as I feared.
However, it’s nowhere near as good as it thinks and while it’s a tad more aggressive than what is usually found in hair metal, it’s the aggression of a pup snarling because you took its favourite slipper away. There’s little substance or creativity or depth to keep me coming back and they don’t sound like a band who have anything more to say. It’s party rock for dude-bros – the same people who listen to Grime or Trap or whatever the hell is supposed to be popular yet gritty now; it’s poser-store-bought rebellion to middle class teens miffed because mom won’t let them borrow the sedan on Friday night, it’s metal because playing loud and fast happened to be trendy at the time. I’d still jump around if it came on in a club and I was drunk, because I have no self-respect. It has its place, and it serves its purpose a little more than adequately.
Let us know in the comments what you think of Shout At The Devil!
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Looks That Kill. God Bless The Children Of The Beast. Too Young To Fall In Love.