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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Meat Loaf

Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose

Review by Gary Hill

In the third installment of the Bat Out of Hell series, Meat Loaf finds himself surrounded by a lot of very talented musicians. Like the second one, this wanders close enough to the territory of progressive rock to fit there. At times, it gets to be pretty close to heavy metal. Meat Loaf seems to have trouble fitting into the nu-metal sounds of the opening number, but once we get past that everything (with the possible exception of the closing piece) is quite strong. That list of special guests includes Steve Vai, Marilyn Manson's John 5, Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx and Queen's Brian May.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Monster Is Loose

An ominous, effects driven section starts this. Then it launches out into something akin to technical epic metal. It drops down for the Meat Loaf’s vocal delivery. The prechorus fills in and as it fires out into the chorus it becomes extremely powerful. The one complaint about this song is that at times during the verse it feels like Meat Loaf doesn’t really know how to work the song. He just seems a bit lost in terms of his delivery and it doesn’t seem to be a strong performance. There is a killer progressive rock like mellower motif later, though, and it more than makes up for any weakness in earlier parts of the cut. It becomes quite symphonic as it comes out of that. This gets quite complex and very powerfully orchestrated as it continues. It really moves from the realm of heavy metal to the realm of progressive rock. The closing section calls to mind something from the proggier side of The Beatles.

Blind As A Bat
A powered up balladic approach makes up this track. It’s again one that’s got a lushly arranged symphonic element to it. It is dramatic and powerful and fits quite well into the realm of progressive rock.
It's All Coming Back To Me Now
Although the early portions of this fall into the category of an AOR duet ballad, they take it out into more progressive rock oriented territory as it powers up more. This gets a little too sugary for me, but it’s still a great song.
Bad For Good
Brian May’s guitar sound is unmistakable on the introduction here. The track is more like the type of music found on the first Bat Out of Hell album, but it does have some progressive rock elements built in later. It gets quite powerful as it continues. The guitar solo is pretty amazing.
Cry Over Me
This is another that feels much like a more proggy version of the kind of music heard on the first Bat Out of Hell album. It gets bit over the top in terms of balladic AOR elements, though.
In The Land Of The Pig, The Butcher Is King
This rocks out hard. While it borders heavy metal, it’s quite symphonic and falls more firmly into the realm of metallic prog. It’s a real powerhouse with some killer musical elements. A later, more melodic movement really emphasizes that progressive rock texture.
Monstro
This is a short track that’s quite symphonic, dramatic and powerful.
Alive
A high energy piece, this is powerful. It’s very much like a combination of the earlier Meat Loaf sound with a more progressive rock edge. It’s quite an empowering piece of music.
If God Could Talk
Here we get a ballad. It becomes a lot more involved and powerful as it continues. It works in a pretty typical Meat Loaf style, but is a great tune, nonetheless.
If It Ain't Broke Break It
This comes in as a heavy metal number, but shifts out to more proggy territory. It’s a real screamer. It’s catchy and has some jazzy elements over the top.
What About Love
Another high energy rocker, this gets some of that male female duet treatment. It’s quite proggy and really works well.
Seize The Night
If you weren’t sure about some of the other material here qualifying as progressive rock, this track should cinch it. It’s a real dynamic and powerful composition. It works through a number of changes and there are parts here that call to mind bands like Yes. The opening movement is purely symphonic. There’s a smoking hot guitar solo section later in the track, too. This is definitely the highlight of the set. There’s another jam later that’s pure prog wonderment. At almost ten-minutes in length, this is also the epic of the set.
The Future Ain't What It Used To Be

Here we get another dramatic and powerful cut that’s pretty typical of Meat Loaf. It includes a duet with Jennifer Hudson. This is a bit on the theatric side, but it’s quite potent.

Cry To Heaven
This ballad is a bit too over the top in terms of symphonic layerings for my taste. It’s kind of a weak way to end the set.
 
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