Meat Loaf’s 12th studio album almost manages to mark a change of direction, or at least a desperate attempt at one.
Featuring guest slots from his Celebrity Apprentice co-stars, a horribly ill-advised cover and an environmental theme as subtle as the man himself, Hell in a Handbasket is a varied affair even before you even get to the rap collaboration.
Opener All of Me is a classic slice of piano-led rock ‘n’ roll, with a repetitive sing-a-long chorus belted out over a driving bass-line. This leads into the 1970s glam-tinged The Giving Tree, which sees a gospel choir provide the backing as Meat Loaf shows off his still impressive range.
From here on in things only get stranger. From the emphatic 40 Days to the riff-heavy Party of One, it feels like only the kitchen sink is missing in the attempt to throw new ideas into the mix.
By the time Public Enemy’s Chuck D makes an appearance on Blue Sky it becomes clear any attempt at coherence has been discarded.
If you ignore the awful cover of The Mamas and the Papas’ California Dreamin’ it all seems to work and you can’t help but admire the fun being had.
Hell in a Handbasket is clearly not to everyone’s taste and it is clear this album is a work of passion rather than an attempt at winning over the sceptics. He can still belt out a classic anthem when required, and should be applauded for attempting something more challenging.
It may be disjointed, confused, and downright surreal, but it somehow remains enjoyable throughout.