Meat Loaf – Braver Than We Are (Album Review)

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Singer/Songwriter/Actor under the stage name Meat Loaf has been a major player on the Rock scene for over four decades now. Known for his booming voice and larger-than-life stage presence, many look to his work as Rock Operas, and that goes all the way back to 1977’s Bat Out of Hell record. One of the greatest selling records of all-time, the album was not an instant hit, going against trends and styles of the time, thus making it a bold piece of music to this day. Since then, it has been an up and down ride for Meat Loaf, with more fanfare and success abroad in Europe, but through persistence and hard work he surged back into the mainstream spotlight internationally with 1993’s Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell.

Often recognized for roles in such films as 1975’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1992’s Wayne’s World, and 1999’s Fight Club, Meat Loaf has become a household name, regardless of one’s age. Going strong all these years later, on September 16, 2016, he returned with his thirteenth overall studio album, entitled Braver Than We Are. Joining up with longtime writing collaborator, Jim Steinman, produced by Paul Crook (John Carpenter’s Ghost on Mars soundtrack Anthrax), and The Neverland Express, which includes John Miceli (drums), Paul Crook (guitars, loops, synths), Randy Flowers (guitars, vocals), David Luther (sax, B3 organ, strings, horn arrangements), Justin Avery (piano, synths, strings, backing vocal arrangements), Danny Miranda (bass), Stacy Michelle (vocals) and Cian Coey (vocals), the new album is his first via 429 Records. Taking inspiration from Steinman’s earlier musical theater works, as well as some covers, Braver Than We Are is ten tracks of true Meat Loaf quirkiness.

Beginning with the ’50s Broadway-esque sounding “Who Needs the Young,” it is a Swing piece with requisite bop background vocals accompanied by a light riffing guitar. Here, Meat Loaf’s singing laments about getting older, all expressed through his patently delivered lyrics. Next,“Going All the Way Just to Start” sees the return of Vocalists Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito, who sang on the studio and live versions “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” respectively. This new tune brings back Meat Loaf’s Rock Opera style. Clocking in at over eleven minutes, it touches a broad range of emotion in the process and harks back to Meat Loaf of yesteryear. Moving on to “Speaking in Tongues,” he changes gears with a Gospel-esque piece with a choir-backing. Accompanying Meat Loaf is Singer Stacy Michelle with her rich vocals to complement his, with a message of tolerance dressing the words. Thereafter is a cover of Bonnie Tyler’s “Loving You’s a Dirty Job (But Somebody’s Gotta Do It)” and it is a well-constructed male rendition of her Pop Opera. Rocking out with a guitar riff against his emotional vocals, Michelle duets with Meat Loaf once again for a grand sound.

Continuing along, “Souvenirs” comes in with a bluesy riff that is accompanied by a piano. Delivering biting lyrics, Meat Loaf sings about how an ex treated him and he took it until he was was done, inviting her to take a souvenir before she goes for good. Then, swooping in, “Only When I Feel” begins a short lament of having a soul as the piano crashes like a heavy heart. Offering another cover tune, “More” is Meat Loaf’s ode to Sister of Mercy as he keeps pace with the late ’80s Rockers, even amping the guitar riff, which is already fizzled.

With only a handful of songs left, “Godz” is pure Meat Loaf quirkiness. This is evident once the guitars kick in heavily with equally heavy drums as he and his backup singers play their parts in their roles as citizens questioning their gods with irritated deliveries. That said, no Meat Loaf album is complete without a Power Ballad, hence the next song entitled “Skull of Your Country.” Featuring Cian Coey, in this ballad, Coey slips in the chorus to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” perfectly. Listen carefully and some could come to the conclusion that this, as well as the prior track, is in fact a jab at the 2016 presidential elections. Concluding the album, “Train of Love” featuring a slide guitar solo from Ricky Medlocke, comes in with a bit of a retro sonic vibe that segues into a fun piano fest burning up and sending the album out on a high note.

As stated, Meat Loaf has had his ups and downs over his lengthy career, and still, he persevered and continues to wow fans with his live shows worldwide. Even if audiences do not know the inspiration behind the songs, they can relate to the themes of Braver Than We Are. That said, this album is a fitting tribute to Meat Loaf and his work with Steinman. Currently at #11 on The Top 200 current album charts and #4 on Rock album Charts, Braver Than We Are is a must listen. CrypticRock gives this album 5 of 5 stars.

meat loaf album


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1 Comment

  • Have you actually listen to this album? It’s just utter, complete and absolute rubbish – and I’m a hard core Meat Loaf fan having seen him 11 times in concert in three different countries. This is just junk,

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