Although Motley Crue’s debut album “Too Fast for Love” is a fine album that is held in high esteem today, upon its release in 1982, it failed to gain attention. Not detoured by their debut’s lack of success, the Crue hit the studio once again with producer Tom Weirman to record their sophomore classic “Shout at the Devil” (1983).
“Shout at the Devil” is the album that put Motley Crue on the map and thrust them into superstardom. While “Dr. Feelgood” (1989) remains the Crue’s best selling album, many fans regard “Shout at the Devil” as the band’s magnum opus.
Eschewing the punk styling of their debut, the Crue opted for a heavier, fiercer look and sound for their second album. If “Too Fast for Love” paid tribute to the Clash and Generation X, “Shout at the Devil” barrowed a little from KISS and Aerosmith; but made the sound heavier. Song after song, “Shout” takes no prisoners. Indeed, “Shout at the Devil” is the bands heaviest, most intense release.
While “Shout” isn’t exactly a concept record, defiance against corrupt authority seems to be the album’s central theme. “Shout at the Devil” depicts a world without morality, a hopeless, empty, sorrowful place. Evil abounds, but you must fight it, be strong, and fight back.
One reason “Shout” is such a great album is the band really gives 100 percent effort. The Crue had not yet slipped into complacency and went into the studio full force. It’s as though with “Shout,” they wanted to make a statement. They wanted to tell the world that they were the meanest, baddest, loudest, fiercest band on the planet. With “Shout,” Nikki Sixx (bass), Tommy Lee (drums), Mick Mars (guitar), and Vince Neil (vocals), give the performance of their career.
Not only did the Crue have the image and the attitude, they also had great songs to back it up. Simply put, Nikki Sixx’s best songwriting is from this period. The songs are heavy, but also highly melodic. The whole album has great hooks and grooves, but is never overly commercial or contrived. While the Crue’s later work was excellent if uneven, “Shout” is virtually flawless.
The album starts out with an introduction titled “In the Beginning,” which describes a world gone to hell. The narrator tells the listener to fight back, “be strong and Shout at the Devil!” This introduction is essential to setting the atmosphere for the rest of the album and is a great lead-in the album’s title track. The mid-tempo “Shout at the Devil” has a magnificent pounding beat with a sinister riff and groove. The rapid-fire “Looks that Kill” is probably the album’s catchiest song, which may be why it was chosen as a single. The hard-hitting “Bastard” is good, if not excellent, and keeps up the momentum.
The album slows down a bit for the haunting instrumental “God Bless the Children of the Beast,” which is a nice change of pace. This leads perfectly into a cover of the Beatles “Helter Skelter.” “Helter Skelter” is considered by some to be one of the first metal songs ever written, so its inclusion is not entirely out-of-place. The Crue more-or-less stick to the original sound of the track, but give it a little more of a metal trimming. Although not quite up-to-par with the original (it is The Beatles after all), it’s definitely a worthy cover and a great addition to “Shout.” “Red Hot,” while not the album’s most well-known song, is quite strong and infectious. “Too Young to fall in Love,” another Motley staple, is the closest the album comes to an actual balled. The intensity of the album only increases as it winds down with the no-holds-bar “Knock `em Dead Kid,” and “Ten Seconds to Love.” The intensity levels off with “Danger,” which makes for a good closing number.
The remastered edition has plenty of bonus material that should be of interest to fans. Demo versions of “Shout at the Devil,” “Looks that Kill,” and “Too Young to fall in Love” show the songs as works-in-progress and are of important historical value. The demo “Hotter than Hell” was re-worked, and re-titled “Louder than Hell” for the Crue’s follow-up album “Theatre of Pain” (1985). It’s cool to hear a “Theatre of Pain” era song as it might have been used for “Shout.” The unreleased “I Will Survive” is good, but not great.
Released in 1983, “Shout at the Devil” has held up fairly well. It may seem a little dated and tame when compared to something like Marilyn Manson’s “Antichrist Superstar” (1996) or other more recent metal bands, but “Shout” was one of the first of its type. It should be noted that Manson himself is a big fan of this album. So without “Shout,” there would be no “Antichrist Superstar.”
Along with “Too Fast for Love,” and the highly underrated self-titled “Motley Crue” (1994), “Shout at the Devil” remains the Crue’s best work. Although there were many imitators, some good, some bad, “Shout at the Devil” remains a quintessential 80s heavy metal album.