I’ve come a long way since 1985 or so. Back when I was in junior high school, Motley Crüe was on a tear through the music world, and heavy metal had taken hold. As women’s groups and preachers burned records and denounced bands such as WASP and Slayer, there was the Crüe, dressing up like chicks and playing music that wouldn’t even register as moderately heavy on my scale today. But hey, in my overly sensitive youth I was convinced that metal was creepy and evil, and I did my best to avoid it. I was petrified by Nikki Sixx. And that’s just embarrassing for me to admit.
It was only a few years later that Iron Maiden opened my eyes to just how great metal could be. And they were the genius musicians behind “The Number of the Beast,” which I praised in Satan’s name last month. The Crüe would come into my wheelhouse a few years later (though it would still take Slayer until I was 34), and though I’d really call them hard rock, they kick some serious ass, especially live. I saw them 1 ½ times onstage (don’t ask), and both times they rocked “Shout at the Devil” and brought the house down.
Note that the Crüe’s version of Satan is significantly lightweight in comparison to Slayer’s in “Hell Awaits,” or even Maiden’s in “Number of the Beast.” I especially enjoy when Neil sings to us that the devil will make your sex life better.
Interestingly, the first time I saw them was on the heels of Vince Neil’s return, with the ill-fated Generation Swine album. It’s a dreadful disc, what with a sound that tries to capture the grunge vibe and Tommy Lee hideously crooning to his son Brandon. The oddity gem in this pack of oddities is “Shout at the Devil ’97,” a remix of the classic that goes all out to make it grungier. Notice I said “grungier,” and not “better.”
Death Ensemble’s OMEN retrospective is over, but I’ve got more to say about the devil in his many forms. As I prepare my tour through Hell, enjoy the Crüe’s updated revision of one of their classics. If only for the pure, misguided cheese.