Album Reviews: Love, Lust And Revenge

  • Billed as “Elitarian Undead Rock”, the Italian theatrical rock outfit known as The Mugshots have slowly been carving out a name for themselves in their native country. However, with their latest release, the mini album entitled Love, Lust and Revenge, it appears that they have their sights set on bigger things.

    Originally conceived in New York City back in 2001 by head mugger and lead vocalist Mickey E. Vil after listening to Alice Cooper’s 1983 DaDa album, E. Vil has spent the ensuing years perfecting the bands unique brand of horror influenced, shock rock. Picture the visual look of The Misfits, complete with skeletal patterned makeup, and throw in a hearty dose of Iggy Pop’s attitude, along with creepy synth washes and that will give you better of idea of what to expect from these sonic ghouls.

    In a fitting pairing, the band enlisted the help of the late Dick Wagner, whose vital contributions as a bandleader, writer and guitarist, played a pivotal role in propelling Cooper to superstardom as a solo artist in the mid 70’s. Clocking in at a shade under thirty minutes Love, Lust and Revenge takes a somewhat more subdued, almost subversive approach from the sound of their past efforts, however with Wagner’s guiding hand, this is a definitely a good thing as they have definitely expanded their sonic palate in the process.

    Opening track “Nothing At All” kicks off with some nice cascading piano notes, before gradually shifting gears and blossoming into a magnificent, full blown piece of dark, cinematic rock as E. Vil spins his remorseless tale of murder, overtop the lush background vocals and layered musical arrangement. This song perfectly lays the groundwork for the rest of the album and the next two tracks “Under My Skin” and “Curse The Moon” stylistically continue along the same path. The second track in particular is highlighted by some scorching lead guitar work courtesy of The Maestro himself. The mid tempo “Free (As I Am) changes things up a bit and is worth mentioning just for its gorgeous, melodic hooks and infectious chorus. I would definitely have to say that this is probably the strongest (and my personal favorite) track out of the six offered up here. What better way to tie up this mini masterpiece than with a closing tip of the hat to the original parties involved and the album that influenced it all. The band offers up their take on “Pass The Gun Around”, which was the final track on DaDa, and man do they turn out a stellar version that, dare I say almost comes close to topping the original.

    Sadly, there will be no further collaborations due to the tragic passing of Dick Wagner earlier this summer, however with Love, Lust and Revenge The Mugshots have definitely learned from and made the most of their experience working with Wagner. They’ve taken a significant step forward in all major areas and it will be interesting to hear where they take things from here.

  • In 2002 The Mugshots were established in New York City, but surprisingly they are based in Italy. A mugshot is a slang term for a police photograph or a portrait taken after a person is arrested. The nicknames of the current band members are Mickey Evil (vocals, keyboards), Erik Stayn (keyboards), Eye-Van (bass), Macfly (guitar) and Gyorg II (drums). Special guest on lead guitar and additional piano is the legendary master of rock Dick Wagner who worked with Alice Cooper , Lou Reed, Kiss, Aerosmith and Peter Gabriel. In recent years the band recorded two full-fledged albums, namely House Of The Weirdos and Weird Theatre and two EPs called Doctor Is Out and In Disguise. The latter was distributed by an independent Italian label and got some enthusiastic reviews around the globe. 

    The EP Love, Lust And Revenge contains five songs all lasting over five minutes. The opening track Nothing At All has a fine piano and drum intro and great singing by Mickey Evil. The influence of Dick Wagner can already be noticed since this piece sounds like a radio-friendly Alice Cooper song. Listen to the two well-played guitar solos in the mid-section and at the end of the song. Next is the ballad Under My Skin which contains enough musical and lyrical variations to keep me focussed. Curse The Moon has the same intro as the Alice Cooper hit Hello Hooray!; the guitar licks of Dick Wagner are present all the time. Free As I Am is more a rock song with a happy feel; this could have been another song from the master of horror rock! The final song Pass The Gun Around is another great track with melodic guitar sounds and witty lyrics about gunslingers and drinking too much vodka. A nice guitar solo by MacFly ends this EP. 

     
    For me The Mugshots were a big surprise. They know how to write attractive, classical rock songs with fine melodies and intelligent lyrics.
     
     
  • The Mugshots are a band who don’t sound like your typical horror-themed band. I guess, technically, they’re not. They’re more a band who play rock and roll with a dark twist. The classic rock influence is so heavy on this album, I have no doubt you could convince any number of people that this is a remastered reissue of a “forgotten” album.
     
    The Mugshots did something with this EP that so many other bands today don’t do. They put the time and effort (and, likely, money) into hooking up with a producer who knows what he’s doing and recorded at a real studio. Most bands figure, “hey, I’ve got some recording gear. Let’s just do this ourselves.” A big percentage of these bands don’t know the first thing about how to make it not sound like a crappy, local band’s recording.
     
    The band enlisted Dick Wagner as producer. Wagner has contributed to songs with the likes of Kiss, Hall and Oates, Peter Gabriel and more. He’s most known for playing guitar with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper in the 70′s. This partnership is fitting because The Mugshots actually sound heavily influenced by 70′s Alice Cooper.
     
    When most people think of classic rock, they’re not thinking dark and brooding. These guys could easily fit in on a soundtrack to a horror movie, though. The subject matter is dark and extremely reminiscent of those end credits pieces or the song someone’s listening to on the radio that actually has a theme that fits with the movie.
     
    “Curse the Moon” is the first song on the EP. It has a nice piano intro. This is followed by a cool classic rock guitar solo over the top. The whole feel is very Alice Cooper. When the chorus comes in, it has a very Queen-like chord progression. Everything comes together and blends very well on this song. This is easily my favorite song on the album, as I could probably listen to it over and over.
     
    “Nothing at All” is almost a Jethro Tull-meets-Meatloaf type composition with the guys from Queen helping out with the chorus’ back-up vocals. The production is great and the song feels like it could have been a huge hit in the 70′s. This could give anything Tull or Meatloaf did in the era a run for their money. It doesn’t catch my ear, personally, but it’s a well put together song.
     
    “Under My Skin” immediately feels like more Alice Cooper tribute material. It’s got a dark progression and a steady, pounding bassline. Lyrically, it seems like something Cooper would have written, as well. The turnaround in the guitar riff has a cool doomy-feel that hooks you. The only problem with this song is that it never really takes off. It feels as if it builds and builds, getting ready to explode into huge finale. However, it never hits that climax, therefore, leaving it a little flat. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, it’s definitely one of the better songs on the EP and keeps you waiting to hear what’s next.
     
    “Free (As I Am)” is, lyrically, dark and brooding. It feels very stalker-esque. The music, again, brings a heavy 70′s Alice Cooper vibe. It just happens to be one of those more forgettable, deep tracks in a Cooper album that it reminds me of. The song never really catches me. The bridge section is reminiscent of the “No More Mister Nice Guy” bridge where he’s talking about a dog biting him on a leg today. The “free as I am” repeated section feels very much like a war protest song and sort of keeps the song from feeling like part of the rest of the album.
     
    “Pass the Gun Around” immediately reminds me of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. I can almost hear the phrase “Ground Control to Major Tom” in the opening. It’s got a desolate, lost in space feel. I hear a ton of Queen influence, again, with the backup vocals. The super digital delayed guitar solo is a nice touch. It’s really helps bring the song together.
     
    Overall, this is a good, well-rounded album. It’s not something the typical,”horror music” fan might appreciate. However, fans of that early Alice Cooper-era stuff… the deep cuts, they should definitely give The Mugshots a chance. It’s most-likely right up their alley.
     
     
  • The cd title and the cd case let us think about a dingy road movie by Quentin Tarantino with the music of Alice Cooper as the soundtrack. With the latter you're not far from the truth because this Italian band approaches, on the EP "Love, Lust and Revenge", our favourite spook damn close.
     
    Not only because they cover an Alice Cooper song but mainly because they have hired Cooper's producer, Dick Wagner, who is also writing a tune. This is not so much the bombastic, it's rather the more song-oriented Alice Cooper and they deliver five beautiful songs.
     
    No, it's not Prog but it's good music, for late at night if you, Alice, no longer dare to stay up but yet you do not want to go to sleep.
     
    () BEGINNING 2014 - translated from dutch
  • The Mugshots are a quintet now living in Italy but actually born in New York back in 2001. It's the singer, Mickey E.Vil, who found the name from an Alice Cooper's title, an artist he's fond of - despite these italians deal more with Melodic Hard Rock. They have released two albums so far, along with a bunch of EP's. In 2012 they teamed up with Dick Wagner, guitar player and producer.
    The cover recalls the deep interest of the band for horror movies: it portraits Suzi Lorraine, a queen of the genre, posing lascivioulsy. Be also aware that the album's music is part of the soundtrack of Vince D'Amato's latest movie "Reversed", a canadian production.
     
    The atmospheres created throughout this EP suggest an interesting career to come, they keep curiosity awake. A special mention for the singer's talent, whose voice is confident and solid, a little bit close to the kind of Bahaus's Peter Murphy. The compositions are embellished by a piano, often melancholic, sustained by sinuous electric guitar parts often aware of the riff's meaning, it's energic and the choirs are definitely beautiful.
     
    "Nothing At All" and "Under My Skin" are more axe-guitar oriented - always led divinely by the singer - the arrangements sound gothic, we hear a real work, real energy, yet "Curse The Moon" brings us to the highlight of the gracious melancholia of the piano, still the guitars are well present - the whole thing really convincing and above all original. Then comes the best one, "Free (As I Am)", released as a single supported by Dick Wagner's guitars - the old veteran really adds some salt with riffs which smell like the Seventies - plus a Hammond organ humming in the corner.
     
    This "meeting" is quite incredible and works perfectly, there is a sulforous smell of Lou Reed's live stuff, the guitar shows itself in a decisely imperial manner as Dick Wagner brings our young wolves on the scene. Dick was in Frost when they had a hit with "R&R Music", he was with Alice Cooper and played on the amazing "Berlin" by Lou Reed plus the two live albums, alogn with Steve Hunter.
     
    This excellent EP ends with a ballad where the voice is sailing with happiness, with Dick still present. An album which would not let us expect that we would have witnessed a sacred revelation.
     
     
  • The Mugshots are an Italian rock group who state that their influences are primarily Alice Cooper, along with The Stranglers and The Misfits. The quintet from Brescia have already released two albums and several EPs, which is presumably one of the reasons why they were to attract Dick Wagner to be involved as producer. He has certainly assisted with getting a very authentic Alice feel to the band, although this is the side of Alice that is all about controlled melody and hooks as opposed to bombast. What many people still fail to appreciate with Alice Cooper is that over the years the band/singer have produced some stunning albums full of incredible songs. I have never seen Alice in concert, but I have plenty of his albums as I enjoy the music so much. It is this element that Dick has really brought to the fore, with the drums and guitar sound on “Curse The Moon” in particular sounding as if it is straight from ‘Billion Dollar Babies’.
     
    But, these guys are doing much more than just a straight Alice copy and are bringing in elements that are much more progressive in certain aspects, with the result being a controlled melodic rock EP with plenty of piano and twists that is sure to interest a lot of people. It may not fit in with the style of music normally released by this label, but is a damn fine piece of work and I look forward with interest to see if the relationship with Dick will continue.
     
     
  • What happens when you stick together some italian musicians with a key-guitar player of the Seventies such as Dick Wagner? Maybe that they sign an EP on which Alice Cooper and Lou Reed's right hand is emerging with great solos above a Melodic Rock context.
     
    Even though the band is asserting to be influenced by Progressive Rock, what you copiously get here is great choruses, with vocal arrangements that even remind of Gospel (or Pink Floyd) and synths, more atmospheric rather than soloist.
     
    Pleasant, obsessive, even desperate, the four original tunes can be enjoyed in a breath and their version of a Cooper song looks like a John Lennon ballad.
     
     
  • The songs from this minialbum can be found on "Reversed" directed by canadian Vince D'Amato, but even more interesting is the fact that The Mugshots here worked with guitar player and arranger Dick Wagner, known for his theatrical work with Alice Cooper. And you can hear it in every pore of this material.
     
    Wagner's sense for macabre drama and symphonic strong and lound crescendos unite forces with The Mugshots' dark, melodic Rock in an appealing way. Unfortunately, the newer songs are far better composed and arranged than the classic "Under My Skin" and "Pass The Gun Around" - the latter coming from possibly the less known Alice Cooper's recording - at least the famous Cooper/Wagner duo is here pleasantly represented.
     
    A collaboration I wish could be resumed.
     
     
  • THE MUGSHOTS is an Italian group, formed in 2001 in New York by Mickey E-VIL, strongly inspired by the work of the old Alice Cooper. Yet, it it only in 2005 that the first LP sees the light of day ( 'House Of The Weirdos' ),followed by 'Weird Theater' (2007), and then by two EP: 'Doctor Is Out' in 2009 (sic!) and 'In Disguise"', edited in limited... release in 2010. The concept of these different albums is based on stories of crime, the look is close to that of horror movies: just take a small tour on their site to be persuaded.
     
    The release of 'Lost, Lust And Revenge', new EP of 5 titles lasting less than 28 min, does not derogate from the rule: the packaging, very successful in sticking in the mind, reveales a pouch representing the newspaper headline about a crime scene ... they are not called MUGSHOTS by chance (the mug shots being the photos of identity used by the police, or the people photographed holding a signboard with a number ... if you know what I mean). Musically, the group has engaged the services of Dick WAGNER, the shows producer of 'prima donnas' such as Lou Reed, KISS, Peter Gabriel, Aerosmith or Alice Cooper, who beyond the work of arrangements on 'Lost, Lust And Revenge', is going to hold the lead guitar. The result is unstoppable: brilliant production, perfect sound quality showing a balanced recording, clean - in short, very 'professional' - throughout this mini album the first notes of 'Nothing At All', tell us that we are leaving for a new and exciting journey into the world of progressive: a sweet piano introduction, a few notes of lunar guitar, a voice that is strangely reminiscent of that of Simone ROSSETTI (therefore, by ricochet to Peter Gabriel - even if the stamp is closest to that of the transalpine singer). In short, all the ingredients are gathered together to propose to the listener an exercise worthy of those of their fellow Italians of THE WATCH.
     
    This is confirmed by the excellent 'Under My Skin' and its first notes in the legacy of 'The Bogus man' of ROXY MUSIC - back then at the top of their art, with the live album 'Viva! Roxy Music'. But nevertheless a title more in the legacy of Phil Collins's Genesis, enclosed in a structure 'verse-chorus' - necessarily less prog - but damn efficient! 'Curse The Moon' comes as a breathing quiet - too quiet for a mini album? - It passes through a 'romantic' guitar letting us even think about a Gary Moore of quiet moments ... in short, a little 'marshmallow' to my taste ... On the other hand, we leave the world of progressive with 'Free As I am', despite a guitar intro which reminds that of Mike Rutherford on 'We Can't Dance'. But after two minutes, it switches into a rock very close to Lou Reed, then carrying obvious influences by T-Rex, and to a lesser degree, we can recognize a few plans used by their friends, THE STRANGLERS. The final is dazzling and worthy of a JOE COCKER singing at Woodstock. Very psychedelic '69 choirs give this title a diversity which in fact bring it to be the more successful tune of this mini-album. We don't leave the early 70's with the last title 'Pass The Gun Around', thanks to the intonations of a David Bowie between 'Space Oddity' and 'Ziggy Stardust'. The David GILMOUR's guitaristque take-off gradually bring us back to a more recent period.
     
    All in all, a very good surprise, which will delight fans of a music which derives from the Seventies, whether being the progressive side with the GENESIS of Peter Gabriel, or other more rock sources - with a modern touch given by the ultra-efficient production of a Dick WAGNER. And knowing the ridiculous price you see on some sites, it would be a shame to pass this EP by, considering its many influences.
     
     
  • Another European act that caught FabricationsHQ’s ear in 2013 was Italian band The Mugshots.
    On their Love, Lust and Revenge five track EP the band honed a very deliberate and distinct sound with an Alice Cooper ...Band feel and appeal – and we’re talking early era band and material; dark, sinister, theatrical but with plenty of musical interest and some simple but effective piano underpinning three of the five songs.
     
    Dick Wagner (Lou Reed, Alice Cooper) played on, arranged and produced the songs; in providing the latter service The Mugshots earned the distinction of becoming the first European band to be produced by the legendary American guitarist.
     
    ’Curse the Moon’ may well be the highlight of the four originals while ‘Free (As I Am)’ is a number that wouldn’t be out of place on early Alice Cooper Band albums.
     
    As a final tip of the top hat to Cooper there's a nice cover of the under heard/ hidden gem ‘Pass the Gun Around,’ the excellent Cooper/ Wagner penned number that closes out Cooper's 1983 album, Dada.
     
     
  • Here is a nice surprise. The truth is that we do not know much about The Mugshots, apart from the fact that they are Americans with Italian origins and that the EP sees the participation of legendary Dick Wagner (Lou Reed, Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Aerosmith) on piano and lead guitars. This is why the compositions of Mickey E. Vil sound so old fashioned. "Love, Lust & Revenge" mainly consists of 70's Progressive Rock nature tracks with psychedelic brushstrokes. Something like a combination between Alice Cooper' gold days and Marillion second phase, let's say. Peculiar is for instance the beginning, with "Nothing at all". In this 5-track EP is dominating a semi-ballad climate with the keys playing the main character. Good ideas are "Curse The Moon" and "Free (As I Am) ", which come blending with the very good voice of Mickey probably playing a more supportive role because of the music primacy. Let's deepen the Mugshots' knowledge, a band which on the first meeting did not disappoint us.
     
     
  • What initially surprised me was that, in spite of being a Horror-Rock outfit with Punk-Rock affinities, The Mugshots produces music that is melodic, catchy, and with elaborated arrangements. The opening song, “Nothing At All” (6:13), has cl...assical pianos, expressive vocals, melodic guitars and progressive bass, and recalls much more a song of “Marillion” with “Fish” then what would be expected from a regular Horror-Punk or Alternative Rock band. The following song, “Under My Skin” (5:02), is driven by a pulsing rock beat on bass and drums, and vocals with a tone that recalls “Alice Cooper” or “The Misfits”. “Curse The Moon” (5:34) is also introduced by poignant pianos, low-toned bass, and brings more drama and heaviness on guitars – overall, it is story-telling, more like the infamous ballads of “Alice Cooper” and “Ozzy Osbourne”. “Free (As I Am)” (5:31) has a swinging guitar riff accompanied by discrete gothic organs – and a vocal tune that also reminds me of “Lou Reed”, with a rhythm n’ blues choir. The simplicity of the arrangements may be appealing for listeners that like something more popish and danceable. The EP ends with a cover of “Pass The Gun Around” (5:18) (by “Alice Cooper” & “Dick Wagner”), which makes justice to the original song, being however adorned with soft harmony vocals and soaring progressive guitars. Not a Progressive act for the most orthodox standards, The Mugshots, with the supportive help of their godfather Dick Wagner, has created a pleasant, melodic, and well-produced record, which may find an audience among fans of “Alice Cooper”, “The Misfits”, and even “Marillion”, “David Bowie”, “Queen”, and “Lou Reed”.
     
     
  • This Italian band is not to be confused with the Canadian pop punk Mugshot, there are a couple of interesting facts about The Mugshots that caught my attention like their new EP is produced by legendary guitarplayer... Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper). Dick also played the lead guitar on "Love, lust and revenge".
    They have shared the stage with The Stranglers, one of my favorite bands.
     
    So there was really nothing to discuss here and just hop on the music straight away, and it´s not everyday you get to hear a new release that sounds like it could´ve been recorded back in 1975.
     
     
    "Love, lust and revenge" bring thoughts to Alice Cooper´s "Welcome to my nightmare" album, Mott The Hoople and The Spiders from Mars. I really like their songstructures, especially "Under my skin" and "Curse the moon" but also "Free (as I am) are solid and epic soundscapes.
    The only thing missing is perhaps one or two more upbeat tracks.
     
     
  • I would argue that some of Alice Cooper’s music leaned towards progressive rock. I’d also argue that this outfit are prog rock. Why did I mention Alice Cooper? Because these guys are clearly influenced by Cooper. They even cover a lesser known Cooper song as the closing cut here. You can’t really deny the progressive rock elements at work here, though. The opening tune, in particular is quite proggy. There are other moments where this feels like a cross between Cooper and Fish era Marillion.
     
    Nothing At All
     
    Melodic progressive rock leads out here and a fusion-like guitar soars over the top. As the vocals join, they feel a bit psychedelic in nature. This gets pretty intense as it carries forward. It’s quite a cool modern melodic prog piece with plenty of influences from old school progressive rock. The piano solo section is quite a nice touch. As the vocals join from there I’m reminded quite a bit of Fish era Marillion. The piece grows out from there into a harder rocking jam that’s still quite melodic.
     
    Under My Skin
     
    Imagine a melding of Marillion with Welcome to My Nightmare era Alice Cooper. It’s likely to sound a lot like this.
     
    Curse the Moon
     
    Somehow I can still make out hints of Alice Cooper on this one, too. That said, this rocker is pure progressive rock, but with a lot of killer guitar. It’s got a pretty accessible vocal hook and many layers of guitar. The sound of this band is unique and great. This piece is just one example of that. There is a cool piano driven movement later in the tune, too.
     
    Free (As I Am)
     
    They open this with a pretty straightforward hard rocking jam. After a while, though, it shifts towards something like a proggy Who. The later sections include a very accessible vocal hook. They even drop it to just vocals for a time. Somehow I can even make out a little Tom Petty on this thing.
     
    Pass the Gun Around
     
    I’ve always liked the original version of this. It always has had a little bit of a prog edge to my ears. This one is pretty true to that version, but the progressive rock vibe is more prominent. There’s an instrumental section that really brings that home, too.
     
     
  • The Mugshots are an Italian rock group claiming influences from Alice Cooper, The Stranglers or The Misfits. The group's name refers to the famous photographs of legal identity from the U.S., which says a lot about their little angelic references. This EP (5 songs) entitled "Love, Lust And Revenge" was produced and arranged by guitarist and composer Dick Wagner, mostly known for his work with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed or Kiss. The group has already announced that this collaboration will last.
     
    The quintet from Brescia has already released two albums and several EPs. Therefore, they are not beginners. They play a very clean music highlighted by an organic and clear production. The opener begins with 'Nothing At All' dominated by piano arpeggios. The drums and bass do not just mark the pace but bring their contribution to the melodic structure, decorated with choirs. The song is very reminiscent of Peter Gabriel or Fish in reference to their solo albums. The guitar is not ubiquitous, but it offers some good times through musical phrases or decisive riffs. Overall this first title is a beautiful begining. The purpose is well built and you can find great musicality along with certain variety. Despite the modesty of the production, The Mugshots manage to take the listener into different moods within the same song.
     
    'Under My Skin' has good moments but suffers from being too repetitive. The five minutes seemed endless but the idea is pretty good; the next track, 'Curse The Moon' once again carries a piano intro. But this time, the lead guitar is much more present. 'Free' As I Am 'is more energetic. Mickey E.Vil is doing better than ever to keep his name as his vocal intonation is definitely evil. The five tracks are pretty good, and even full of very good parts. The overall atmosphere is very melodic, sometimes rock, sometimes softer thanks to the role played by the piano.
     
    The Mugshots is a fictional group, as evidenced by the shaped pouch of a newspaper which shows the horror movie actress Suzi Lorraine, or the masks used on stage by Mickey E.Vil. All the above kits already have a horror movie style very depressed. It should be noted that this mini album is the original soundtrack of the horror film named Reversed, from the Canadian director Vince D'Amato.