Hollywood Vampires

EarMusic, 2019


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


For their self-titled debut album, the Hollywood Vampires pieced together a lacklustre covers album dedicated to Alice Cooper’s old (and long gone) drinking buddies. A cavalcade of guest players joined in for the levity of it all; however, therein lies the problem, as instead of a band-sounding album, it came off as nothing more than an average tribute project. Things would be different this time around as for their second studio album, the team decided on a less is more approach, with only a couple of guest spots.

Most of the material consists of original songs written by the core group of Cooper, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, and Tommy Henriksen, who also produced the record. Sessions took place over a twelve-month period at studios both in the US and France, and as with the first record, it sounds as if a lot of cutting and pasting went on to bring these tracks together. A small group of session players were added to fill out the group as required, and both Perry and Depp get lead vocal spots on a couple of tracks, just because.

Rise is a far more ambitious undertaking than the debut and it does contain some inspired moments but is overall let down by mundane lyrics, one dimensional mixing, and instrumental fillers (no less than four of these), which over the almost hour-long playing time just makes it a slog to get through. The opener “I Want My Now” is a downtrodden but tight rocker that contains some killer (layered) guitar parts and spaced out synths, but the lyrics are laughably bad – “I want a house, I want a car / I wanna be a movie star / I want some gold, I want a brick / I want a diamond selfie stick (Yeah),” which Cooper delivers without a hint of his trademark satire. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The only single released fares much better: “Who’s Laughing Now” is built around a fat bassline and is the kind of menacing track that used to be a staple of Cooper’s classic albums. More of the same follows with “The Boogieman Surprise.” Things go pear-shaped rather quickly though as Jeff Beck drops a couple of solos into a ridiculous shuffling mess called “Welcome To Bushwackers” and Joe Perry channels Iggy Pop as he warbles his way through a horrid cover of Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory.”

Depp suffers a similar fate as he destroys (and not in the good way) David Bowie’s “Heroes” with a morbid delivery and then tackles The Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died,” which only works better because he doesn’t have to sing. Depp gives another spoken word vocal on “Git From Around Me” as Henriksen and Cooper handle singing duties on the choruses. It is one of the more inspired offerings across the album.

Cooper and Depp again trade barbs on the flamboyant marching band fodder “We Gotta Rise,” which is supposed to be a satirical call to arms that faceplants about five seconds in. “New Threat” and “Mr. Spider,” which is a vain attempt by Cooper to revisit horror tales of the past, offer nothing of worth. The ridiculous spoken word, along with an overbearing acoustic track that is eerily similar to the opening riff of “Pinball Wizard,”  on closer “Congratulations” puts Rise down for a much needed nap.

Once again, the Vampires have patched together in between conflicting schedules an assortment of ideas that save for the few aforementioned highlights, failed to deliver on their promise. Rise is overlong, overblown, and sounds way more subdued than it should. The mix is flat and has the Hollywood Vampires sounding more like a vanity project than a “supergroup.”

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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