US band MÖTLEY CRÜE were one of the first modern day heavy metal acts to break it big, and the album when they broke down the barriers and started financing their infamous hedonistic lifestyle was 1983’s “Shout at the Devil”. A production that was driven to the top by a professional manager, most likely exploiting the end results of the band’s former manager’s opening plays in terms of using a bad boy image for as much as it was worth.
Looking back in time, there isn’t all that much to be shocked about as far as this band and this album is concerned. But in its’ day, and then in the US in particular, it dropped like a nuclear bomb. In a nation where artists such as Venom, Bathory and Mercyful Fate were total unknowns, and paranoid parents fervently supported their peers in various Christian right movements (that would eventually be the nucleus of PMRC) and their fight against the messengers of evil in Twisted Sister and Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe probably appeared to be incarnations of the devil himself. Music packed with a shock value image, one of the aspects that made this album sell quicker than cold coke on a hot summer day.
The music comes across as rather dated today though. This was fresh when heavy metal was still new, there’s no denying this, at least as far as artists that the general population had access too is concerned. In terms of mainstream success bands, few others managed to combine the dark, gnarly riffs and catchy chorus sections that this band did there and then. The music at it’s core emphasizing the impression one wanted to give about these being bad and dangerous boys.
The songs lack depth though, and 30 years and a bit on they feel ever so slightly stale. The guitar sound is good and compelling, there’s no denying that, and there are some fine guitar solo sections to be found too. But there’s not too much else to enjoy though, other than singalong style chorus sections. The band comes across as fairly tight, credit is due for that, but there’s also one glaring, bright weakness that shines through everything: The lead vocals. Vince Neil is a vocalist with limited range and not the best vocal control in the world, which is a detrimental feature throughout. He doesn’t actually appear to be out of tune as such all that often, it’s more a case of not being all that in tune no matter the context, and he is pushing his poor vocal chords to the point of breaking a bit too often as well. One may wonder how an album such as this had turned out today, with something called auto tune.
The quality of the guitar riffs, the catchy chorus sections and the occasional good songs are something of a saving grace for this production though, with the brightest shining light being “Looks That Kill”. If not a diamond then at least a gem, standing out amidst lumps of rock and the occasional lump of coal.
It is easy to understand why this album was the meteoric success it was back in the day. Many other bands at the time had similar qualities, many were better, but Mötley Crüe had the best manager and the band, the manager and their label all profited from that. It is an album that have faded badly with time though, and the at times horrible lead vocals most of all. “Looks That Kill” is still a gem though, and for those who encountered this album in their formative years this will no doubt still be a treasured production.
My rating: 56/100
In the Beginning // Shout at the Devil // Looks That Kill // Bastard // God Bless the Children of the Beast // Helter Skelter // Red Hot // Too Young to Fall in Love // Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid // Ten Seconds to Love // Danger