Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose

Meat Loaf

Virgin, 2006

REVIEW BY: Daniel Camp

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/01/2009

The rock enigma we know as Meat Loaf has established himself as many things over the years: loud, bombastic, exciting, and perhaps a tad eccentric. His vision and voice range from a sneer to a snarl to a sonata (occasionally all in one song,) and the success of his first two Bat Out Of Hell albums led to rarely paralleled anticipation for the third and final (?) installment. So, for this encore, what did the often operatic rock star do?

He channeled his inner Wagner.

Yes, Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose is Meat Loaf at his most grandiloquent, and yes, it borders on pompous. And, like any Wagner opera, it is too long. But if you’ll stick around, you’ll hear things you won’t hear anywhere else, and you’ll walk away stunned and appreciative.

Though this album rightfully did not receive the critical acclaim of the original Bat Out Of Hell, I find it to be the most cohesive of any of the Bat albums, and closer to the mark set by that first masterpiece than the second was.

Meat Loaf carries the menace necessary to carry a series called Bat Out Of Hell into this album first with the title track, and then into tracks like “In The Land Of The Pig, The Butcher Is King” and “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It.” It never ceases to amaze me how scary he can make that voice of his sound on songs like these, and how fun that sound can be. Like a teenager watching a slasher film, you’ll find yourself entranced by fear, unable and unwilling to pull away. “In The Land Of The Pig…” is the closest thing to “Bat Out Of Hell” I’ve heard from Meat Loaf since I first heard that magical tale of motorcycle madness: crashing guitars, soaring vocals, and pure adrenaline.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Then there are the less fun but better crafted songs, like “Blind As A Bat.” This is your typical Meat Loaf love song: long, nice, but less than sincere. Theatrics and melodrama play better on grand stages, so when the simple sincerity of a love song enters the picture, the result is bound to be less than ideal. That said, “Cry Over Me” may be Meat Loaf’s best attempt ever. He is utterly believable here, and the listener can be excused for believing the pain expressed to be real, if only for a second. “Alive” does not equal “Cry” in sincerity, but it makes up for it with musical excellence, from the piano introduction to the guitar solo to the backup singers. Oh yeah, and the lead singer I’ve been talking about isn’t half bad either.

In the tradition of “All Revved Up With No Place To Go,” this album gives us “”Bad For Good,” a straightforward, good-old-fashioned balls-to-the-wall rocker. Not much not to love here, although it could have been half as long and not suffered at all (a remedy that, applied to every song on the album, would raise my rating for it to an A.) The aforementioned “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It” carries a message and style that, strangely, reminds me more of Guns N’ Roses than Meat Loaf and helps the viewer to rock out when necessary.

The duets, a Bat standby since “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” became the series’ biggest hit, deserve some love. “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” gives us an excellent pairing with Marion Raven. The two voices blend brilliantly, and their interplay is just superb. “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be,” with Jennifer Hudson, can’t compare, but to Hudson’s credit, she doesn’t try; she plays her role her way, giving the song some soul.

My favorite song on the album is an unlikely choice: the final track, the brief “Cry To Heaven.” A beautifully sung piano piece, here Meat Loaf appropriately closes out this installment -- and I hope the series -- in a fitting manner: once a bat out of Hell, he’s gone through so much that now he can only do two things: “Cry, cry to heaven; if that doesn’t do it for you, go ahead and cry like hell.”

I expected the closer to this trilogy to disappoint, much the way Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell did, maybe to a greater extent. Instead, Meat Loaf proved himself a master of his craft. His voice has not diminished one bit, and neither has his power to spellbind an audience. His faults are the same you would expect: the album as a whole is too long, the songs are too long, and the lyrics are packed with weak clichés. That said, few artists today have the ability to entertain a listener the way this man does. The message fades, but the music endures. Wagner would be proud.

Rating: A-

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