Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
Epic Records
Grandiose, Anthemic, Over-The-Top Theatrical Rock
7 songs (46.33)
Release year: 1977
Meat Loaf, Epic Records
Reviewed by Aleksie

Album series released under a similar title are usually formed by one revered album that is followed by sequels with varied success. Queensryches Mindcrimes or the Keeper-records by Helloween are prime examples. As great as they are, to me they don’t match up to the brilliance that will get the Classic treatment this time around – Meat Loaf and Bat Out Of Hell.

Marvin Lee Aday met his ultimate partner in crime, Jim Steinman while touring the States on the theatre circuit. Aday – who had received his tasty nick name allegedly from his football coach (and not Chef from South Park, another popular speculation) – had been earning his stripes in musicals and grand stage productions where his voice had grown to match his 300-pound echoframe. Steinman on the other hand had a passion for the scorching flamboyance of glam rock, the storytelling grittiness of singer/songwriters like Bruce Springsteen and the pomposity of classical composers through history all wrapped in a witty lyrical sense of humour unmatched by anyone else in rock. They found the third part of the magical triangle in producer/glam star Todd Rundgren, who constructed the massive sounds that fill this record. Crunchy walls of guitars and drums are topped off with layers upon layers UPON layers of harmonizing vocals that bring a melodic quality the size of which I have not heard in anything, no matter the genre or artist.

The whole album is built like an opera, a thematic set of songs about the life of a teenager in lust for love and adventure. The twist comes in the fact that the main character dies, his heart bursting out of his chest and flying away like a bat out of hell, in the first song. The title track begins with high-speed piano-widdling that leads into crashing power chords that set up the tone for something of heroic proportions. I’ve heard that Meat Loaf was signed on one of Sony’s sub-labels based on the intro of this song alone. It was considered “the greatest intro rock n’ roll in history” and I can’t say much to disagree. The tune starts to grow into an epic hard rock tale of motorcycle mayhem that grows on every speeding, anthemic chorus. After the mellow part in the middle comes the orgasmic rise when the motorcycles rumblings, simulated by Rundgren on the guitar, transform straight into the orgasmic solo without skipping one second. The euphoric ending with Loaf belting out the high C’s is pure dynamite.

You Took The Words Right Out My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) and All Revved Up With No Place To Go take a more traditional rock n’ roll approach with saxophones, hand claps and oozing, yummy background voices put through a Wagnerian mixer of flash and grandeur. Loaf rips it up on the vocals and puts any rock singer this side of Bon Scott into shame. Heaven Can Wait and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad are classic ballads that leak syrup out of every hole and do it with incomparable style. Loaf shines in ballads as well as his acting background really shows in his delivery. He literally becomes the characters in Steinmans songs and makes us feel it in every bone. Paradise By The Dashboard Light is a magnificent story of teenage sex, where the boy tries to romance a girl in the back seat, but meets some unfortunate obstacles. The girl wants love and devotion too, and the surprised boy has to sleep on it. The whole song is dealt into three parts with some quite progressive leanings with the tempo changes and mood swings. The funky interlude that features a sports announcer calling a hellacious baseball game as blatant sexual innuendo is just pure gold. Anyone who says humour and music don’t mix hasn’t met Jim Steinman. For Crying Out Loud, a majestic ballad featuring an orchestra and Meat wailing on top (Edguy and The Spirit Will Remain, they beat you to it!), finishes the extravaganza in an appropriately gargantuan fashion.

In 1977, at the time of disco and punk, the album was unlike anything that had come before it. Queen might have beat them by a few years with the pomposity, but even they did not reach this level of theatricality and over-blown melodrama. When you think about bands making overtly grandiose, rock-based stuff like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, Edguy or the like, you’re mostly thinking about material that is awesome. But ultimately the essence of that material was perfected in 1977.

I have deemed albums as Classics here on Metalreviews on two different grounds which haven’t admittedly always been equally strong, depending on the album. At the very least the records have been either 1) Very influential in their style and genre and have been studied and copied with varied success since their release; or 2) Just so damned awesome that I cannot call them anything else but Classics. In my eyes, Bat Out Of Hell completes both categories. With sales of over 30 million copies to date, it is one of the few albums where nothing is out of place, there is not a second of filler and every song is a jewel – simply one of the extremely few albums I would call absolutely perfect.

Killing Songs :
Every single one of 'em!
Aleksie quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Meat Loaf that we have reviewed:
Meat Loaf - Hang Cool Teddy Bear reviewed by Brock and quoted 80 / 100
Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell III - The Monster Is Loose reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 80 / 100
Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell II - Back Into Hell reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 97 / 100
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