B y Jason Webber
So it’s come to this — from Bat Out of Hell, to Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, to Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose to, finally, Hell In A Handbasket. At this point, the album should’ve been called Meat Loaf: Shut the Hell Up. Thirty five years after Meat Loaf established himself as the Zeus of Schlock Rock, he’s back with what he promises is his most “personal” album to date. Just one problem — he’s not saying anything all that interesting. Sure, there are a few eyebrow-raising surprises on this 12-track album. Props to Chuck D for having the sense of humor to appear on this musical equivalent of cheese-in-a-can. But camp alone cannot save Hell In a Handbasket from being a thorough disappointment — and I’m a true, diehard Meat Loaf fan. A Meat Loaf album should be fun, damnit, and filled with over-the-top, bombastic, Wagnerian production and enough melodrama to make Erica Kane blush. But there’s little excitement to be found on this astonishingly tepid album from one of rock’s most explosive performers. The big, would-be Broadway numbers never rise above a simmer, and even Meat’s trademark power ballads don’t exactly inspire make out sessions. His name is Robert Paulson, er, I mean Meat Loaf. And his new album kinda sucks.