Shock-rock groups that lose prominent members usually end up haunting record-store racks with horrific albums. And so things looked grim when Joey Jordison left the Murderdolls to concentrate on Slipknot, his day-job gig, and frontman Wednesday 13 dissolved the band and started writing his own songs in the same ghoulish vein.
But Transylvania 90210, 13's surprisingly cerebral solo debut, successfully recalls early Alice Cooper (huge classic-rock hooks) and Antichrist-era Marilyn Manson (down to the whistling-ghost guitar tones). He leads the black-clad masses in sinister sloganeering ("I want you . . . dead," "Haunt me," "I want bad things to happen to you"), but beyond the slap-happy puns ("Life's a grave/Dig it!") lies sharp satire, such as "Elect Death for President," on which he establishes the Grim Reaper's platform, while a saxophone solo shadows his vocal melody. His slithery voice wraps itself around the fast, sleazy riffs like a stripper performing a pole dance. Wednesday 13 played everything but drums on the album, but he's bringing an undead-looking army of long-haired, pale-faced freaks on the road to reanimate the material.