'Bat III' just short of hell 

Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose
Virgin Records

MeatLoaf’s new album, released this Halloween, is titled Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose. Sadly, though, the music has more in common with the 1995 release Welcome to the Neighborhood than Bat Out of Hell, or even Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell. Bat Out of Hell’s theatric, non sequitur songs are replaced with pseudo-poppy hits and the radio-ready cover of Celine Dion’s ballad “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”

The brilliant balance of talent and parody that made MeatLoaf’s Bat Out of Hell so emblematic — songs such as the marathon “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” — or even Bat Out of Hell II memorable — with the deliriously funny intro to “Wasted Youth” — is missing here.

While some songs hint at MeatLoaf’s past masterpieces — “In the Land of the Pig, the Butcher Is King” — nothing is up to MeatLoaf’s old Bat Out of Hell stuff. Too dark and too serious, half the draw of MeatLoaf was the camp factor.

None of the songs grab you on the first spin. Many re-listenings were required to gain even an appreciation for any of the songs.

The CD is as solid as Welcome to the Neighborhood. It just doesn’t live up to the Bat Out of Hell moniker. Hard-core fans will either swoon over it just because it is a new MeatLoaf album or, like me, be disappointed by the lack of classic MeatLoaf fare. Welcome Back to the Neighborhood would have been a better title for this album.

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