This is a bit of an odd one, because I’m reviewing from what I’d consider to be a mere half of the album. Though I assume that the label doesn’t want a few of the songs to be heard by the press yet for certain reasons ineffable to me, so I will simply accept it as such. However, there is more than enough meat to chew on for me to give you a great overview of the new album, as well as what renowned celebrity Johnny Depp sounds like on the mic. So how does Captain Jack sing? Quite well, actually. He takes on a few cover songs here like David Bowie’s “Heroes” and The Jim Caroll Band’s “People Who Died” with a voice comparable to that of David Bowie. This is an oddity for Alice Cooper fans, as Cooper takes the backseat on several of these songs. There is also a bit of profanity in “People Who Died” which is why I would assume Depp chose to sing it instead of Cooper, who doesn’t prefer to use profanity in his music. I’ve never once chided him for it either, being a rather big fan of Cooper’s work past and present.
Speaking of Cooper’s performances, he delivers quite well. “I Want My Now” opens the record on a fiery note, while single “Who’s Laughing Now” continues to show how memorable of a supergroup the Vampires actually are. It’s great to hear not only original material, but original material done well and that’s what they’ve given us here. Guitarists Joe Perry and Johnny Depp each perform some meaty licks, with a couple of solos as well, so there’s no shortage of rocking to be had. Alice Cooper really tears it up with “Welcome To Bushwackers” which also features Jeff Beck and John Waters offering up a bar brawl of twangy blues and rowdy lyrics. Joe Perry also sings on a few of these tracks including the Johnny Thunder cover, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory” which like “Heroes” definitely brings down the mood a little and shows that just like the previous album, these gentleman have more to offer than meets the surface. I don’t know about you, but I love a record where every song sounds different than those before it and that’s one reason I’m definitely intrigued by the album and can’t wait to hear the rest of it around the time that this review drops. Rise has a little bit of everything, from punk to classic rock to blues and even some heavy metal; so I’m sure that you’ll find something that appeals to you. My only qualm would be with the short afterthoughts, “How The Glass Fell” and “The Wrong Bandage” as these are essentially short pieces that merely fill time in between songs and will more than likely become skipped with subsequent plays.
As you can see, the new album from Hollywood Vampires is not completely dominated by Alice Cooper this time around on vocals and that I think lends to some rather unique interpretations. Alice Cooper fans will of course be pleased by his work here, but this is also the work of Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, whose fans will certainly not be disappointed either. It also shows us that Johnny Depp isn’t just a celebrity gone rocker, but that he has notable chops and is worthy of playing with these big time rock legends. I wasn’t really sure if the band was going to produce another disc and assumed that it was a one-off project of sorts, but I’m quite glad they did. Rise shows that the band is evolving to become something more than what it was – and that to me, is a surefire sign of progress. The album title clearly fits, in more ways than one.