Hollywood Vampires | earMUSIC | 6/19 | Score: 9/10
▣ By Carlos Londono
It’s time to rise, children of the night, the Hollywood Vampires are back! And unlike their first self-titled release that only featured a few new songs, their newest album Rise, with the exception of a couple covers, is packed with all brand new material.
Consisting of Alice Cooper (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Joe Perry (lead/rhythm guitar, lead vocals) and Johnny Depp (lead/rhythm guitar, lead vocals) – the rock supergroup Hollywood Vampires was formed to pay tribute to some of Cooper’s old friends from the 70’s who passed away. The band name derived from a drinking club started by rock legends Keith Moon, Bob Brown, John Lenon, and Mickey Dolenz, just to name a few. Now, with Perry and Depp, and the help of Tommy Henriksen (keyboards, rhythm, and lead guitar, backing vocals), Tommy Denander (electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards), Bruce Witkin (bass, keyboards, rhythm and lead guitar), and Glen Sobel (drums) the Hollywood Vampires are a full-fledged rock band with a solid album to back them up.
Their 16-track release starts off with the 7-minute song, I Want My Now. The song starts off with a minute jam session between the guys, filled with heavy riffs and a kick-ass beat. Gritty and raw, it serves as the perfect build-up for Cooper’s vocal take over! He sounds fantastic right from the start. With a bluesy vibe from the keyboards, easy on the ear lyrics, it was a perfect, guitar explosion, opening.
Next, was an instrumental track- Good People Are Hard to Find. Filled with creepy voices and a loud heartbeat, the song feels like it’s going to pop out of the speakers. This is one of three instrumental songs on the album, this one serves as the perfect transition into the succeeding song.
Who’s Laughing Now, the first single release off the album, was first released as a lyrical video back in April. It got a lot of great feedback and gave us a taste of what was to come from the Vampires. It was quite evident that it was a big ‘fuck you’ to all of the non-believers, and everyone who had doubts about their music. Again, Cooper sounded awesome! I don’t think there is anyone that can pull off the Vampire sounding voice better than him. The song is filled with great guitar riffs from Perry, and Depp’s back up vocals really shine here. Check out the video below.
How the Glass Fell is another transitional instrumental song. The organ is creepy and sounds like its right out of an old Dracula movie. It plays as the perfect intro for the next song; The Boogieman Surprise, another song that lets Cooper’s vocals shine. Cool lyrics, riffs, and hooks make this song one of the top songs of the album. The song is catchy and I quickly found myself jamming to it.
Welcome to Bushwhackers is a lyric driving, funny song, with a bluesy vibe that is just downright fun. Cooper’s frankness is hilarious and captivating- his ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude comes effortlessly. With the assistance of Jeff Beck and John Waters on the track, this is a legendary kick ass production.
The sound of rain played on the piano is the next instrumental song. The Wrong Bandage, is a really pretty piece. But, it was only 29 seconds long, and quite frankly not long enough to get anything from it. You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory came next, featuring Perry on lead vocals. This is one of the more slower tracks on the album. He has such a calming voice, sounds sincere, and he definitely nails it. I really enjoyed this one. I do have one question for Perry though- when is the next Joe Perry Project album coming out?
For the next two, Depp would take the lead on vocals, and as always, he embraced his part with ease. Git from Round Me, the punk-influenced song, has some of the hardest riffs on the album. It was perfectly paired with Depp’s vocals for a solid performance. The band then pays tribute to the late David Bowie with their performance of his hit, Heroes. Their rendition of the song wasn’t far from the original, but the guys did add backup vocals which were a nice addition. And man, Depp sounded great here, and I personally think his performance is something Bowie would be proud of. Check out the video for that song now!
I was then serenaded with another instrumental, A Pitiful Beauty. Again, it was beautiful, but I think it was an unnecessary addition as it didn’t feel like it matched the tone for their next song, New Threat. This is one of my favorites of the album. Cooper is back on vocals with his own bag of tricks, including his effortless growls and screams, matched by some of the best guitar playing by Perry. It is edgy and it worked. I love the vibe on this one!
And just when you think that you have heard the best from the super group, Mr. Spider comes on. The song has an eerie beat that crawls right through your skin, and it matches Cooper’s vocals so well. The lyrics are dark, with a 70’s Alice Cooper feel, a sound that I have grown to love, making this is my favorite track on the album.
The anthem of the album, a song that starts off by declaring Alice Cooper as the new President of the United States, We Gotta Rise, comes next. It was pretty obvious who the guys were targeting here, and if you listen to the lyrics, it is a song that unites us all-
“We gotta rise, let’s rise above the lies, It’s you and I, it’s do or die, We gotta rise, let’s rise above the lies”. This is another fun song, with catchy riffs. I can envision this being played at sporting events, or in a small sports pub. It’s a good time!
Then, Depp was back on vocals to play a tribute to Jim Carroll with the cover of People Who Died. Depp once again rises to the occasion with a solid performance. They did the song justice, and that’s what you want to see when anyone takes on a classic hit.
The album ends with a musical composition called Congratulations. Henriksen joined in on the inspirational poem which takes us on a journey of positive words. It was a cool addition that left us feeling good about the album.
I truly enjoyed the album, the band sounded great and it was a definitely a step up from their first release. I’m giving it a 9 because I found some of the instrumental songs to be unnecessary fluff. Some instrumentals offered a nice transition to the following song, but for the most part, they just get lost. All in all, a great solid album by the Hollywood Vampires. If you haven’t picked up a copy, I suggest you do so. I know I will be enjoying this one all summer long.
Click to listen & purchase the album now!
1. “I Want My Now”
2. “Good People Are Hard to Find”
3. “Who’s Laughing Now”
4. “How the Glass Fell”
5. “The Boogieman Surprise”
6. “Welcome to Bushwackers” (feat. Jeff Beck + John Waters)
7. “The Wrong Bandage”
8. “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”
9. “Git From Round Me”
11. “A Pitiful Beauty”
12. “New Threat”
13. “Mr. Spider”
14. “We Gotta Rise”
15. “People Who Died”