Motley Crue are one of those bands that may have few “in-between”ers, but mostly have a lot of people who either love them or hate them. Some justify their hate with the fact that they evolved into glam metal legends, and many metal fans can’t allow themselves to like anything associated with that. Others aren’t a fan of the band members themselves, Vince Neil and co. and their antics were enough to just turn them away. And on some rare occasions, some just legitimately don’t enjoy their music. I, however, fall on the opposite end of this spectrum, and am a huge fan of Nikki and the crew (crue?). Shout At The Devil also happens to be my favorite record by these sleazy LA boys, and on top of that it just happens to be celebrating its thirty-fifth birthday!
The way that metalheads perceive this album is actually a little different than the band’s other material. Thanks to the dark imagery, heavier songs, and overall grimy feel of this beast, a handful of people will give this record a pass. As ridiculous as it may sound, there definitely is a reason as to why this record holds such relevance here in 2018. First and foremost, it had a couple of big radio hits: the title track, along with the energized banger “Looks That Kill” and the power ballad “Too Young To Fall In Love.” All of these brought Motley Crue to the mainstream, as Shout At The Devil was more successful than their debut album Too Fast For Love was in1981 (another Motley record that sometimes gets a pass). A lot of radio stations today will still bust these songs out, they’re easily recognizable, and can be enjoyed by both fans of heavier music, as well as the typical mainstream music listener.
On the other hand, much of the gold lies within the tracks that didn’t really take off. Songs like “Bastard” and “Red Hot” have such attitude and burn right through anything in their path. They drop the guitars down, they distort the hell out of them, they crank up the speed, and are really nothing short of what any heavy metal lover could want. They also give the same evil atmosphere on the slower, yet still heavy ones, namely “Ten Seconds To Live” and “Knock ‘Em Dead.” Their darkened cover of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” certainly added a touch of evil as well, especially considering the events that followed its original release. Of course, this one is heavier and oddly enough, easier on the ears (likely thanks to better technology).
Controversy was bound to surround this album, which gave it even more publicity on top of already being a breakthrough album. The large pentagram on the front cover definitely turned the heads of Christian conservative groups. The CD re-release just uses the band members’ four faces as a cover instead. Their wild looks and over the top make-up would certainly influence bands to come, and since this was pretty early on in the glam scene, it’s quite evident that that took effect.
I like to also think that their reckless lifestyle had a little bit to do with the mean nature of this disc. As many know, Motley Crue were pretty notorious for their excessive drug use, and had a pretty sizable share of women in their prime. Many wonder how they’re even alive. Car crashes, drunk driving, heroin, and everything that Hollywood can do to someone were very much in control of their lives. In fact, the album closer “Danger” capitalizes on this a little bit. But really, I think the pressures of the industry and the outcomes of irresponsible partying laid the tiles down for writing such a devious album. Why not relate the evils of the world to a fiery being from down below?
At the end of the day, the positive reception, as well as the various negative receptions, around Shout at the Devilis what makes it so relevant today. After this record, they would lighten up a little bit and help form not only the backlash against them from thrashers and extreme metal listeners alike, but against glam metal in general. But what did Nikki Sixx care? As long as he could score some blow and bring home a girl, his job was done. To him, the comments of those ugly and sexually frustrated mosh pit goers did nothing but enhance their image, and as more records were released, they got more mainstream success; but it all started here.
Shout At The Devil holds up as one of the most important glam metal records ever made. Like the other big albums, it can be found almost anywhere remastered to CD, and there are also plenty of original vinyl copies floating around the record stores, as well as re-issues. Whether you view the Crue as a great band or a slice of glamorized Hollywood cheese, there’s no denying the legendary status of this album.