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Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell III-The Monster is Loose

Although you can probably say that Meat Loaf has pretty much milked the Bat Out of Hell franchise to death, give him credit for coming up with some interesting and memorable results here on the what he is calling the final installment, Bat Out of Hell II-The Monster is Loose. As equally bombastic as the first two parts of this saga, and in spots much heavier, Meat and his all-star cast have created an album that sounds modern yet takes you back almost 30 years, with plenty of references to the mega-selling debut, and album that has endeared itself to millions of fans worldwide.

What needed to happen here for Bat III to be successful ultimately is good songs, and there's no shortage of them here. Powerful ballads like "Blind As a Bat" and "What About Love" have the trademark hooks and soaring chorus' that is vintage Meat Loaf, with instrumentation that really backs it up. While it's an odd choice that his remake of the Celine Dion hit "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" ( a duet with Marion Raven) was picked to be the first single, it's still a commendable effort. A better choice would have been "Blind As a Bat" or the addicting "If God Could Talk" as the first single, but if this album takes off like the first one, hopefully we will see multiple songs released as singles.

As for the heavy rockers, there's plenty here to dig into. Massive, almost metal guitar riffs propel the epic title track, a song that features a snarling vocal from Meat Loaf, and Brian May's trademark guitar work is all over the soaring "Bad For Good". Steve Vai puts in an appearance on the theatrical, symphonic metal of "In The Land of the Pig, The Butcher Is King", a raucous piece with plenty of wild guitar parts and loads of keyboards. Funky hard rock is all the rage on "If It Ain't Broke Break It", a blistering track with beefy guitar licks and horns, and "Seize the Night" is a proggy orchestral number that, while slightly bloated at near 9 minutes long, has some thrilling moments. Other musicians who show up on the album include John 5, Nikki Six, Todd Rundgren, Patti Russo, Jennifer Hudson, and many others. As far as Meat Loaf himself, he sounds powerful as always, hitting notes probably most thought he was incapable of at this stage in his life.

Desmond Child produced the album, and contributed songs alonside Meat Loaf's on again off again collaborator Jim Steinman. As you can expect, there a strong theatrical flavor here and radio friendly feel, which should be good news for the long term success of "Bat Out of Hell III-The Monster is Loose". While there are a few pop-rock ballads sure to be a hit with mainstream fans, those into prog rock and metal might be surprised at the few crunchy rockers and symphonic pieces here, showing that Meat Loaf and Company have plenty of tricks up their sleeves and are fully capable of appealing to a wide variety of listeners. Surprisingly good stuff!

Track Listing
1. The Monster Is Loose
2. Blind As a Bat
3. It's All Coming Back To Me Now
4. Bad For Good
5. Cry Over Me
6. In The Land of the Pig, The Butcher Is King
7. Monstro
8. Alive
9. If God Could Talk
10. If It Ain't Broke Break It
11. What About Love
12. Seize the Night
13. The Future Ain't What It Used To Be
14. Cry To Heaven

Added: November 30th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Meat Loaf Website
Hits: 3161
Language: english

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Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell III-The Monster is Loose
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-11-30 09:47:15
My Score:

The last time I saw Meat Loaf perform live, sometime in the mid-Nineties, he took to the main stage at Milwaukee's Summerfest with a guitar strapped to his ample body. But he never played it (not even a strum, best as I can remember) until a few songs into the set. Rather, he became a master at using that instrument as a cool-looking prop. Similarly, on Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, Meat employs several hired songwriters human props, if you will to replace original Bat composer Jim Steinman. Steinman's presence can still be heard, but because of a (now resolved) lawsuit between Meat and Steinman over the "Bat Out of Hell" trademark, he only contributed seven songs most of them written years ago, including the memorable title track from Steinman's lone solo album, 1981's Bad For Good. So Meat Loaf turned to hit makers Desmond Child, Diane Warren and Marti Frederiksen, along with Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx and Marilyn Manson's John5, to flush out The Monster Is Loose.

The result is an album as bombastic and melodic as its two predecessors but somehow not as urgent. Of course, that may be because Meat has said his passion for music is gone, telling Newsweek in October that "if I created a hell, it would be a recording studio that I'd have to spend eternity in." Indeed, gone is the youthful exuberance and hunger that characterized 1977's original Bat Out of Hell and its 1993 sequel Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell. Instead, Meat sounds beat. Yet somehow, Bat III is still loaded with potential hits, beginning with "It's All Coming Back To Me Now," a song Steinman wrote for an earlier Bat record but wound up giving to Celine Dion. (Note to doubters: Meat Loaf's version, sung as a duet with a female vocalist, is waaay better.) Other potential singles include the Sixx- and John5-penned title track, Child's "Blind As A Bat" and "Alive," and Steinman's "The Future Ain't Want It Used to Be." Other Steinman tracks, however, falter and even pale in comparison to some of Bat III's other songs: "In the Land of the Pig, The Butcher Is King" is nothing more than a lukewarm rehash of Bat II's "Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back," and "If It Ain't Broke Break It" is an obnoxious and misguided attempt at modern-rock radio relevancy. Elsewhere, Child's "Monstro," the one-and-a-half-minute orchestral choir piece with Spanish lyrics, sounds like Rhapsody lite, but Warren's "Cry Over Me" is easily the disc's weakest track, overly weepy and irritating even for Meat Loaf.

Is The Monster Is Loose a fitting conclusion to the Bat trilogy, whose first two installments collectively have sold between 40 and 50 million copies (depending on the source)? Sure. But the musical climate in 2006 is radically different than it was when the first two albums emerged. And what sounded like a one-of-a-kind record in 1977 and a welcome respite from grunge in 1993 now, nearly 30 years since the original, seems borderline desperate. So why can't I stop spinning this thing?

Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell III-The Monster is Loose
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-11-27 17:32:47
My Score:

So here we are at the final chapter of the apparent trilogy for Bat Out Of Hell, a saga that began almost thirty years ago by Meat Loaf and his song writing partner Jim Steinman. The original album from 1977 was a blockbuster and truly difficult to surpass for the singer, and none of his future albums would ever do that despite many valiant efforts. The second chapter gave fans a number of great memories as well and now in 2006 it would be time to close out the story. With "The Monster Is Loose", the second part of the title we would get to enjoy a wider scope in the song writing, as Jim Steinman would not be the only person generating the creative flow on the recording. Chapter three opens up with song by one of these other contributors as Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx gives Meat Loaf that added level of Hard Rock power. It's a solid track and a great opener at that. The second track is one that strikes hard in the typical Meat Loaf fashion of dishing out an incredible power ballad with "Blind As A Bat". It was a song I felt should have been the lead single but perhaps it will be the follow up as it has all the elements of a breakthrough track. The main single from the album is a song that you might recognize entitled "It's All Coming Back To Me Now". The tune was a hit for Celine Dion, and was penned for her by Jim Steinman. While I am not sure of the reason to use it for this release it is done well and introduces a larger audience to the lovely Norwegian siren Marion Raven. Ms. Raven has a beautiful voice and compliments Meat on the track very well showing it works well as a duet as much as it worked as a solo piece for Ms. Dion.

Some of the other contributors to the album were Diane Warren, Desmond Child and John 5 (yes, the same one from Marilyn Manson) and together they make this an enjoyable listen with some truly memorable moments. The question is does this come close to the original Bat Out Of Hell from 1977, well no it does not, and that would be next to impossible for that was simply a phenomenon that is not often a repeatable thing. There are sufficient theatrics to the music as one expects and many of the songs will have you singing aloud after only a couple of listens. Lyrics and incredible artwork are provided for the listener which will help them better appreciate the contents. As a closing thought I have to wonder as to whether or not this is really the final chapter in the Bat Out Of Hell story, well we will just have to wait and see won't we.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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