Killer: 50 Years Later by Various Artists

Release date: November 27, 2021
Label: Pale Wizard Records

1971 was a magical year in albums. Genesis put out Nursery Cryme, Yes soar the skies with Fragile, David Bowie was reaching a turning point on Hunky Dory along with Pink Floyd’s Meddle while CAN were going for some killer grooves on Tago Mago. But something was coming out of the glam rock scene. T. Rex’s majestic masterpiece Electric Warrior and Alice Cooper’s breakthrough with his fourth studio album, Killer.

Championed by John Lydon of The Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd, who described the album in the 2002 BBC Radio Documentary, Billion Dollar Baby – The Alice Cooper Story as an “Absolute stunner. That’s what heavy metal should be all about; a sense of dangerous fun, just on the edge of absurdity, stunning album.

Killer is one of those albums that just knocks you out of the ball park with a hardcore punch. It combined not just theatrics, but punk, prog, folk, and hard rock with an in your face attitude that just grabs you with a fistful of lightning. “I think finally the critics had to look at it and say ‘You know these guys are a real good band’.” Alice mentioned about the album in the 2002 radio doc, “Competing with The Who and bands like that was the hard part. So we work 12 hours a day on the music and maybe half an hour on the theatrics. So we were very determined to go up against those bands.

It also showed that The Alice Cooper Group had unleashed something that was mind-blowing and explosive. 50 years later, the label, Pale Wizard Records honour the album’s anniversary entitled Killer: 50 Years Later. With bands from the doom industry, it gives the album the proper tribute it deserves.

 

From Ritual King, Mos Generator, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, and Green Lung, these bands give Killer, an awesome tribute it deserves with attitude and justice. You have Sergeant Thunderhoof’s ‘Halo of Flies’ ready for blast-off with these Crimson-sque ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ guitars soaring in the sky and Morse code keyboards heading into a rumble of an overture resembling Peter Hammill’s The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage.

Not only had they captured the 8-minute track, but going for the Van der Graaf sound with an eerie spaghetti western midsection, but erupting with a grenade blast. Throttling riffs, tidal waving drumming, and electrifying vocals. Motorcycling revved up intro for Green Lung for the opening track, ‘Under My Wheels’ has a fuzztone garage-rocking attitude that gets you riding into the night.

Powder-keg like Queen Textures that are unexpected, but work brilliantly for the horn section going for the finale. The Grand Mal’s ‘Be My Lover’ is a home-run. Not only they do a foot-stomping glam shuffle, but singing in the styles of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Sweet Jane’ with a melodic crunch.

Not only have they honoured Alice, but the styles of Lou Reed into the mix, knowing that the hat-tipping momentum is quite a blessing. Ritual King’s take of the acoustic turned doomy take of a cross between early Floyd, Bowie, and Bo Hansson’s Lord of the Rings-era on ‘Desperado’, feels like a rumbling epic rocker with some full-scale attacks.

1968’s version of ‘You Drive Me Nervous’ is the band’s nod to the Mad Hattering genius of Damon Fox from Bigelf’s Hex period as the climatic title-track by Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell is where all hell breaks loose. Here, Admiral has finally unleashed the beast with Alice’s approval as they bring out heavy overtones, brutal attack midsections with riffs, stop-and-go, shrieking solos, and going in for the kill.

You have the militant drum roll on a loop, walking bass lines, speaking in Gregorian language, and climatic end towards your doom is fast-paced. And boy, Admiral got it done properly to reveal that you’re death is not going to be pretty! Mos Generator’s ‘Dead Babies’ is not only a damn good cover, but going for a Violent Femmes approach to the song.

Now we come to the four bonus tracks covering tracks from Alice’s four albums; Love it to Death, School’s Out, Muscle of Love, and Billion Dollar Babies. Alunah’s approach of an eerie mellow turned hard rocking approach of ‘I’m Eighteen’ goes for a nod to both Blood Ceremony and Jess and the Ancient Ones while the terrorising take of Sound of Origin’s ‘Sick Things’, would make you want to take the Ludovico Technique.

Possessor’s ‘Muscle of Love’ goes for the driven punk-rock attitude that’ll make you go 600 miles per hour while Suns of Thunder’s ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ would make you dance the tango like a madman!

Now they launched this on Kickstarter back in March of last year by pledging £7,650 ($10,203.82) with 186 backers to bring the Killer tribute to life. And Pale Wizard Records have won the World Series with this honouring Alice Cooper’s masterpiece. I hope to hear more from the label to see what ideas and tricks they’ll have up their sleeve for 2022.

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