When this record was released in 2006, obviously the mainstream music press wasn’t all that interested in veteran rock artists like Meat Loaf, but the name ‘Bat Out of Hell’ has enough power behind it that people will flock to it. Once it was announced that Jim Steinman (who wrote the first two ‘Bats’ entirely) would be on board for some of the songwriting on part III, the anticipation for this record began to grow. How does it hold up to parts I and II, overall?
Well, to actually begin answering that question is rather difficult. You see, part I (1977), part II (1993), and this third part were all released in such different musical eras and climates. One thing that is very clear about this record is that it is much more metallic than the first two in the series. The opening track, “The Monster Is Loose”, is a metal song. Yes, Meat Loaf is a hard rock artist, but to hear such a ferocious song as this coming from a record with his name on it is a bit bizarre. Of course, bringing on John 5 (Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie) and Nikki Sixx (Mötley Crüe) to help with the songwriting makes you wonder if Meat Loaf was going out of his way to purposely make this record a bit meaner than the previous two in the trilogy. Does it work? Yes, it does. This opening track is monstrous, no pun intended, and it sets the record off on a great start. Switching gears a bit, it’s very clear that when Jim Steinman wrote “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” that it was meant for Meat to sing. What’s more, it works! This song should have never been sung by Celine Dion (nor should anything else, for that matter), but thankfully, Meat is able to do it justice. Much of the record from here on afterwards keeps the metallic vibe going, mind you at varying degrees of success. The cracks begin to show themselves as this record goes on, sadly revealing the truth that this isn’t the same caliber of record that the previous two in the trilogy are. The last highlighted track is “Seize the Night”, which is one of Meat’s best songs.
Sadly, as mentioned above, this record is not quite as good as the first two ‘Bats’. What this record reveals is a simple truth about Meat Loaf and his catalog. Meat Loaf is an absolute force of nature. He’s one of the greatest vocalists in the history of popular music and when he’s at his best, he can’t be topped. He has produced some of the most grand, epic, over-the-top music of anyone. That said, he’s not a good songwriter. It’s no coincidence that Meat’s best material was all written by Steinman. Whenever Steinman is not on board for a Meat Loaf record, it’s safe to bet that you’re in for a fair share of filler tracks. Even with Steinman writing some of the tracks on this record, it manages to come out as a pretty good record. Not great. Pretty good. A valiant effort that was certainly much better than it could have been.