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Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell - Album Of The Week Club review

How do you improve upon the most bombastic multi-million seller ever? On Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman added extra length

Bast Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell cover art
(Image: © EMI)
Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell

Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell cover art

(Image credit: EMI)

I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)
Life Is A Lemon and I Want My Money Back
Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through
It Just Won't Quit
Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)
Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
Wasted Youth
Everything Louder Than Everything Else
Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)
Back Into Hell
Lost Boys And Golden Girls

If the success of Bat Out Of Hell seemed unlikely in 1977, what hope (in hell) would Bat II have during the height of “alt-rock”? The last thing anybody in 1993 wanted was to hear some bullshit album from creaky old dinosaurs like Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman

And yet, seemingly out of nowhere, the constantly feuding duo pulled it together and created their second-greatest album, a collection of truly breathtaking rock’n’roll grandeur including the most beautifully absurd and almost grotesquely over-inflated power-ballad perhaps of all time, I’d Do Anything for Love (But I won’t Do That). The rest of the album is just as nuts. 

“I didn't call it Bat Out of Hell II just to identify with the first record,” said Steinman of the album they made together. “It was a chance to go back to that world and explore it deeper. It always seemed incomplete because I conceived it like a film, and what would you do without Die Hard 2?”

Meat Loaf was more prosaic. “We called it Bat Out of Hell II, cos that would help it sell shitloads.” 

What a comeback.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in September 1993

  • Chaos A.D. - Sepultura
  • Wild Wood - Paul Weller
  • American Caesar - Iggy Pop
  • Human Wheels - John Mellencamp
  • Grin - Coroner
  • August and Everything After - Counting Crows
  • Cure for Pain - Morphine
  • Concentration - Machines of Loving Grace
  • Face The Heat - Scorpions
  • Houdini - Melvins
  • In Utero - Nirvana
  • Recipe for Hate - Bad Religion
  • Show - The Cure
  • Yes I Am - Melissa Etheridge
  • Believe In Me - Duff McKagan
  • Icon - Paradise Lost
  • Live Seeds - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • Violent New Breed - Shotgun Messiah
  • Water - Saigon Kick

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What they said...

"Loaf, who’ll soon turn 46, is in fine voice. He is also said to be in fighting trim at 250 pounds. Maybe the answer to Bat out of Hell II is revealed in the radio-friendly It Just Won’t Quit, when a mournful Meat Loaf gently croons: “There was a time when I knew just what I was living for/There was a time, and the time was so long ago.” But, who knows, with the current trend for all things ’70s, there still may be a place in this world for Meat Loaf." (Rolling Stone (opens in new tab))

"From the arrangements to the lengths of the tracks, everything on the album is overstated; even the album version of the hit single, I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That), is 12 minutes long. Yet that's precisely the point of this album, and is also why it works so well. No other rock & roller besides Meat Loaf could pull off the humour and theatricality of Back Into Hell and make it seem real. In that sense, it's a worthy successor to the original. (AllMusic (opens in new tab))

"The album is timeless. It’s just as satisfying to hear to Steinman’s stories as told by Meat Loaf as it was in 1977 and 1993. Everything necessary to create the perfect rock song — sex, love, violence, and defiance — is still as exciting. The The Wall-type cries on Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back remain inspiring; the concentrated imagery of Objects In The Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are is just as evocative, and the anxious and confessionary feel of Out Of The Frying Pan (And into the Fire) is still just as tragic. (Pop Matters (opens in new tab))

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What you said...

Evan Sanders: It's such a challenge to succeed a classic album, especially when it's Bat Out Of Hell, an album that has been a constant on my playlist since it was released. To use a baseball analogy out of Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Bat Out Of Hell was an exciting steal of home, while Bat Out Of Hell II was a swing for the fences that landed for a solid hit but not a home run. 

The opening song, I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) set the bar high, and there are strong songs that follow, including Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through. But it's missing slower songs that work as well they did on the first album, such as Heaven Can Wait, For Crying Out Loud, and of course Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad. It still deserves a place on classic rock playlists, just not as prominent its predecessor. 7/10

Tom O'Brien: Couldn't fight my way through the entire album. High school poetry type lyrics(though a few good lines slipped through), love Meat's voice, but this was generally over sung. On the positive side, Incredible musicianship as usual, complex composition and excellent use of time changes.

Adam Ranger: Bat out of Hell was such a well-received and well loved album, nothing really like it came before. Therefore a sequel to that album was always going to be tough, peoples expectations were high. The opening delivers a lot of promise.. keyboard intro and then the glorious 12 minute of overblown pomp of I'd Do Anything For Love. The fact is that this song was maybe overplayed at the time, but it is still magnificent.

Generally the rest of the album does not reach the same heights. The slower songs are there, but they are not as emotive as say Heaven Can Wait or Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad.

The exception for me and possibly my favourite track is Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back. A bit of a departure from the "Bat" sound but I really like it.

A solid album and a good contender for the second-best album Meatloaf recorded.

Brian Carr: How do you follow a crazy over the top masterpiece like 1977’s Bat Out of Hell? Take a decade and a half and do everything again with more! Longer songs! Longer song titles! Repeat those titles over and over!

Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell came into my world when I was a kid, and it was great. The album didn’t lose its greatness as I got older - I still love it. Fast forward to the follow-up, released during my years as a music store assistant manager. Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell immediately caught my ear with its stellar music, but something was off. I didn’t like the album anywhere near as much as its 1977 predecessor. I think I have a promo copy that has sat in my CD collection unplayed for decades. Time to revisit and figure out why.

It didn’t take long to figure out. I’m not as big on the hit I'd Do Anything for Love as many others were. It’s a fine song, but definitely not enjoyable enough to invest 12 minutes - I’d prefer the much better Paradise By The Dashboard Light at eight and a half. Next comes Life Is A Lemon and I’m essentially ruined on the whole thing. I’m not a huge lyric guy, as I’ve said on other reviews, but when lyrics are so over the top dumb, I can’t ignore them and this tune has some of the dumbest lyrics I’ve ever heard. What makes it worse is the guitar riff is a killer! I’m reminded of This Is Spinal Tap, but less fun.

Bat Out of Hell II ultimately reminds me of a musical, something I knew nothing about in 1993. Musicals aren’t my go to choice for entertainment, but they can be enjoyable if the story is funny or interesting, and the music is typically top notch. The music here definitely qualifies, and for all of its falling off the rails bombast, I do love Meat Loaf’s voice. But for me, this Meat Loaf was made with eggs just past their expiration date - not enough to put me on the can for the rest of the day, but off enough to where I push my plate away unfinished.

Gary Claydon: I've never really been a big fan of Jim Steinman's work (the bonkers-brilliant Bat excepted) but I've always admired his complete and utter commitment. When he undertook a project he threw everything at it. On Bat II, that even applies to the song titles, which take almost as long to read as it does to listen to actual album, which itself is too damn long. He found the perfect partner in Mr Aday: Jim and Meat were a marriage made in heaven. Or hell, if you like. Trouble was, they only really had the one idea, which only really worked the once.

There is too much re-hash about Bat II. What's the covers count, four from Bad For Good, two from Pandora's Box's Original Sin? It's hardly brimming with originality. Again though, you have to admire the commitment. With grunge at its height, an album such as Bat II was decidedly uncool, totally out of place in the prevalent musical climate. But then, Jim  and Meat weren't aiming for the grunge crowd. They already had their audience & it was one that was desperate for a Bat Out Of Hell sequel. When asked at the time about the decision to call the album Bat Out Of Hell II, Steinman waffled on about his desire to revisit the world he created in Bat, his cinematic vision blah, blah, blah. When asked the same question Meat said they called it Bat II 'cos it would help sell a shitload of albums. And he was right.

I'm afraid I can't get at all enthused about Bat II. For me, it's just a bloated, second-rate attempt at recapturing the original, a weak echo of a true piece of genius. Sorry.

Uli Hassinger: I was very sad about the passing of Meat. Another member of the great choir in heaven. Meat Loaf has influenced me quite a bit. From my first contact with hard rock music at the age of 10, I made my way through the scene, beginning with Kiss, Status Quo, Nazareth, BÖC, Purple. Then came NWOFM with Motörhead, Judas, Saxon and so on. At the age of approximately 17 my best friend of that time played me Bat Out Of Hell. So it was around 1984. I was excited from the start. This is worth mentioning because it was the first album that showed me that there were good albums away from hard rock and heavy metal. So Meat Loaf earns credit for expanding my musical horizons.

Meat has to be appreciated as a true rocker. His short appearance in the Rocky Horror Picture Show rocked the whole movie and was the absolute highlight. When he was on stage his white shirt dripped from sweat after the first song, and he exhausted himself to the extent where he needed oxygen respiration to recover during longer instrumental sections. He gave everything for the stage and his music.

When it comes to Bat Out Of Hell II one has to admit that his other albums in between couldn't catch up with the original Bat Out Of Hell. I thing that Bad Attitude was the best of these albums. But only the reunion with Steinman brought back the magic.

In my opinion it's a worthy successor of Bat Out Of Hell with a more modern interpretation but with the same spirit. Smooth melodic parts and rocky melodramatic sections. The songwriting of Steinman is superb throughout the whole record. I have not listened to it for a least 10 years and didn't recall that it is 75 minutes long. But I don't think it's too long. 

All the songs are thrilling, so the album manages to hold the tension throughout. All the songs are exceptionally good. It's not necessary to pick any songs out because the album should be seen as a a total work of art. If I was forced to pick one it would be Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through, because this song breathes the soul of the original album most of all.

In my opinion this album can compete with the original. The only criticism is the very 80s production. 9/10.

Alex Hayes: Last April, we paid our respects to Jim Steinman. Sadly, less than a year later, we now bid a fond adieu to his musical partner-in-crime. Farewell Meat, you were a unique and stellar talent. The world is a poorer place for your passing. You'll be missed, RIP.

I bought Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell on cassette on release, although it's easily 25 years since I last listened to it in full. I've always had problems with the original Bat... album, in that it's overwrought nature prevents me from enjoying it anything close to the levels that others are capable of. It's always been an album that I wish I enjoyed much more than I actually do. Saying that, overall, I did get a kick out of reacquainting myself with Bat... II this week. Bloody hell, it just won't quit though, will it?

So, Bat... II saw the light of day in 1993, just as the music industry was beginning to realise the potential, ahem, 'benefits' afforded by the far greater elbow room available on the CD format. Within the space of a couple of years, the average album length exploded from roughly 40 minutes to well over a hour, irrespective of the quality of the material on offer. The 1990s, the decade where the industry perfected the art of the 'album filler'. This practice reached its nadir on a certain 1996 album.

Bat... II doesn't plummet anywhere close to those tedious depths though. In fact, it wears its 75 minute length very well. Some of the album's finest moments are actually cover versions. Well, after a fashion anyway. Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through, Lost Boys And Golden Girls and Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire) were originally recorded for Steinman's 1981 solo album Bad For Good, covered by the Club just last year. They are far superior here, in fact the latter song could well be my favourite Meat Loaf track of all.

Unfortunately, we also find ourselves subjected to a fourth Bad For Good outtake/makeover here. The toe-curling Love And Death And An American Guitar is mutated into Wasted Youth, and, if anything, ends up even more embarrassing. Everything I dislike about the Bat... concept can be summed up by these cringe-worthy spoken word narratives. I can barely sit through either of them.

Steinman is otherwise in fine fettle throughout Bat... II, as is Meat Loaf himself. What a career reviver this turned out to be for the latter. This is one of those rare occasions where I think I actually prefer the sequel. Somehow, it conversely manages to benefit from its overblown and melodramatic characteristics. Ultimately, Bat... II sweeps the listener along on a roller-coaster journey, and, yep, I bloody enjoyed the ride.

Mark Paul: In the same way that if you had your formative years in the 70s or 80s Meat Loaf to you was Bat Out of Hell, and if you had your formative years in the 90s to you Meat Loaf probably meant Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell. If it didn’t mean that it definitely meant I’d Do Anything For Love the hit single featuring Patti Russo, or to some the song with the video with the guy with the weird face.

For me Bat Out of Hell II is only second to Bat Out of Hell in Meat Loaf’s catalogue. In classic Jim Steinmam and Meat Loaf style it is gloriously pompous and grandiose and whilst some people will say it doesn’t have the same calibre of songs on it, when compared to Bat Out of Hell. I would argue that with the likes of I’d Do Anything For Love, Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through, It Just Won’t Quit, Objects In The Rear View Mirror, Everything Louder Than Everything Else, Good Girls Go To Heaven and Lost Boys And Golden Girls, every song – except Life Is A Lemon (although I love it) is a banger either in musically or emotionally. 

If they don’t match their counterparts from Bat Out of Hell they certainly come extremely close. We even have the track Wasted Youth, the lead in to Everything Louder, to give us our equivalent of the start of You Took The Words Out Of My Mouth. Is the speech schlocky? Is it corny? Bat Out Of Hell, yes it is! But do I love it? Back Into Hell, yes I do!

I remember spending many an hour listening to this in my teens and I’m happy to report I am spinning it all the more now.

Rest In Peace Meat Loaf. A true legend.

Philip Qvist: Bombastic, over the top and overwrought - in other words a typical Meatloaf and Jim Steinman album.

I'd Do Anything... is the standout track, with a couple of other tracks well worth a listen. but I am one of those listeners who never got into Meat Loaf and Bat Out of Hell. Therefore, a couple of spins of II is more than enough for me.

Not denying either one's talent, and their recent deaths are a loss to the music industry, but Bat II really isn't for me.

Still, for sheer drama and being as unique as the original Bat, this album deserves a 7 ranking - although I reckon fans will rate it much higher (and probably rightly so).

Grant Wilson: I'm a big fan of the original Bat Out Of Hell and this album is a worthy Bat II. I feel like it probably needed another couple of stronger album tracks to really make it essential however. Still, love the concept and imagery, and the first and second singles are great.

Matin Drury: Bloody fantastic album. Every song's a belter. Obviously the big hitter was hugely over played everywhere at the time but its great to have an over-enthusiastic singalong in the car too.

David Longman: I want my money back! Asked to review one of the greatest albums of all time? Surely this stands at the summit of the Classic Rock mountain. An album for which the phrase "all killer and no filler' was invented. Killer lyrics from Jim Steinman delivered by Meat Loaf in finest voice. I have even used the lyrics from Objects as part of a training course on preventing child abuse! A wondrous mixture of deeply moving and vaguely silly songs which sounds as good today as it did on the day of release. I would do anything for love but I won't give this less than 10.

Emarice Gor: Steinman's theatrical, over-the-top song writing was a perfect fit for Meat Loaf, who basically began in theatre. It was Kismet that the two teamed up.

Tony Fuerte: This album is an example of how the CD era caused many rock albums to become bloated when left to its own devices. There are some solid tracks… his take on Rock and Roll Dreams Cone True improved on Rory Dodd’s original vocal while Everything Louder Than Everything Else was a fun, hard charging track. Then you have the bloat, none more blatant than Objects In The Rear View Mirror. This album, Journey’s Trial By Fire and RHCP’s Blood Sugar Sex Magic are the dictionary definitions of albums that would have been much better if you would have trimmed a ton of excess fat. 6/10

John Davidson: A bloated, middle-aged follow-up to the bombastic original.

If Bat Out Of Hell II had come out in 1980 instead of the lacklustre Deadringers or the misfired Steinman effort Bad For Good then it would probably be a classic, but this has had too many years fermenting in the vat of teenage angst and wish-fulfilment that was Jim Steinman's head.

It's not to say the songs are bad, some are ver good Though every one of them is too long.

The returning cast of supporting players from the E street band alongside Foley and Todd Rundgren do a commendable job of giving the songs the musicality they require, but there is something missing. The hunger and desperation of the original have been replaced by overbaked reflections and the lyrics, which once perfectly encapsulated the overwrought feelings of a teenager trapped on the cusp of adulthood just sound clunky here.

That's not to say there isn't fun to be had, but it's Ready Player One-style fun, ticking off the boxes of nostalgia rather than capturing the real moments of emotion.

Greg Schwepe: So, how do follow up a multi-platinum classic album 16 years after the original? Many have tried, many have failed, many have never bothered to try! In this case you just go to the strengths of the artist and producer, and the result is more of the same, but that’s a good “same.”

And when I mean “more of the same”, it’s the stuff that I like about Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman together. That’s bombastic, over the top production, soaring anthemic vocals, plenty of cool screaming guitar, and at the end of the album the thought; “man, I hope they put out another album like this…” And for some who know my rock musical tastes you'd probably wonder how I'd listen to this as well as the normal flat out, four-on-the-floor rock too.

While obviously being familiar with the radio-played songs from Bat Out Of Hell, I never actually owned it until the early 2000s when I bought that and Bat II. And because with certain artists I’m big on the “more of the same” vibe, I really took a liking to it right away. And of course, I had to finish out the trilogy and get Bat III when it was released.

Many of the songs appeared on Jim Steinman’s Bad For Good album which was reviewed last year by this group. And surprise, I really liked that one too…for the same bombastic, over the top reasons. Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through and Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire) are a couple on Bat II that were heard previously on Steinman’s album.

This album just has a good flow and feel to it. A worthy successor to the original Bat. While Meat Loaf has put out other albums not associated with Jim Steinman, I tend to stick with these because I like the formula. Now, after listening once again, it's not something I can listen to over and over and over, like a few other favourites. One over the top listen is good for awhile!

Mike Canoe: Not gonna lie, I was kinda dreading this one. I could never make it through the single version of I'd Do Anything For Love,"so an album track at more than double the length did not portend an enjoyable listening experience.

Fortunately, Bat Out of Hell II is mostly enjoyable. Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman are one of the great pairings in history, right up there with Elton and Bernie or peanut butter and bananas. I have always associated the phrase Everything Louder than Everything Else with Motorhead, so it's no small feat that Steinam and Meat Loaf have made it their own. I liked Steinman's Meat Loaf-less Bad For Good well enough, but the three songs repeated here now sound like they were meant to be. Even the full version of ... Anything For Love flowed better than I expected.

The main criticism levelled at Back Into Hell is that it's overlong and I would agree with that. I find myself punching past Objects in the Rear View... and the relatively short Back into Hell and It Just Won't Quit. The spoken word piece Wasted Youth is every bit as irritating as Steinman's Love and Death and an American Guitar.

It reminds me of when Metallica proudly proclaimed they used every possible second available on a CD for the Black Album. What some hear as excess, others hear as an extravaganza. I could easily trim at least 30 minutes off this album, but then that wouldn't really be the point, would it? For some, nothing succeeds like excess. Rest in peace, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman.

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Final Score: 6.97 (138 votes cast, with a total score of 962)

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