If there’s one thing you can say about Alice Cooper, it’s that he’s diabolically consistent. Along Came A Spider, his 25th album, has all the makings of a perfect Alice Cooper record — snappy hooks, guttural lyrics, heavy-duty guitars and a death-defying bottom end — wrapped around a sinister tale of murder and mayhem. Classic Cooper indeed. When many of his peers are losing their marbles, playing to senior citizens in Branson, or milking their back catalog for Buffalo nickels, Alice Cooper has pumped his well-worn, bigger-than-life image up with fresh blood and wild abandon. In the depths of his own demented imagination, he’s still 18.
Along Came A Spider is the story about a serial killer named Spider who wraps his prey in silk. Guilt and confusion set in when Spider falls in love and fails to follow through on killing his latest victim. If Cooper hasn’t sold this idea to a movie studio, he’d better hurry before someone steals it and plasters it all over YouTube. A dramatic prologue draws you into the fable before you’re sucked into the vicious marauding of “I Know Where You Live.” With lyrics like, "I know where you live/I know where you hide/I know what keeps you alive,” the song cops that old-school feel of the original Alice Cooper Band — a pulsating beat and a rip-roaring riff that would have felt right at home on 1971’s Love It To Death.
“Vengeance Is Mine” (featuring Slash on guitar), “Wake The Dead” and “Catch Me If You Can” dazzle with a more modern approach, although they borrow heavily from an 80s/90s alt metal arsenal of trickery. “(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side” might be the best load of bullocks from Cooper since “Poison,” whereas the infectious melodies and arrangements of “Killed By Love” and “Salvation” eerily ride the range alongside blustery ballads like “Only Women Bleed,” “I Never Cry,” and “You and Me.” Who wouldn't want to see “Salvation” worked into the set list.
But it’s that sound and attitude ingrained in the grooves from the early 70s that dominates the record. “I’m Hungry” is a straightforward, jaw-dropping rocker offering up, “chloroform and handcuffs just for you.” The double guitar attack of Keri Kelli and Jason Hook rivals that of Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce, the primal two-headed guitar machine behind “Under My Wheels” and “School’s Out.” Filled out by bassist Chuck Garrric, longtime drummer and present stickman for Kiss, Eric Singer, and singer Bernard Fowler, who’s been working as a background vocalist with the Rolling Stones for 20 years, Along Came A Spider is throbbing with equal measures of muscle and tenderness, tempered with doses of suspense and folly to keep you mentally transmogrified until your next check-up.