NAPALM RECORDS CD/LP/DL 2015.
Believe it or not, there was a time when W.A.S.P. were a genuinely thrilling band. When they ht the ground running with their self titled debut in 1984 they were a breath of fresh air. LA Metal bands, for the most part, looked like drag queens but W.A.S.P. looked like they’d stepped off the set of some bizarre, Mad Max inspired horror movie and their Alice Cooper on steroids stage show, which included raw meat, real blood, naked women and exploding cod-pieces took the theatricality of rock and roll and ramped it up a notch. Then there were the songs. W.A.S.P. added a harder edge than many of their glam contemporaries without sacrificing any of the hooks or song writing suss. In fact many of their early songs stand up remarkable well over 30 years later as classics of the genre. Even their debut single, the controversial “Animal (F**k Like A Beast)”, despite its deliberate attempt to shock, is one big assed motherf**ker of a tune. W.A.S.P. built their reputation by being bigger, dirtier and mostly better than their contemporaries but by the end of the 80’s, main man Blackie Lawless decided he wanted to be taken as a serious artiste and abandoned the shlock rock in favour of deeper, more philosophical fair like “The Headless Cross” and the overblown concept piece “The Crimson Idol”…both decent albums but lacking the teeth of their opening trilogy. From then on W.A.S.P. have survived by occasionally chucking out half decent albums and maintaining a regular touring schedule but, apart from the hardcore following, most people stopped caring…particularly when Blackie Lawless became a Christian and decided to ditch some of his best tunes as they didn’t fit with his new found faith.
Several line-up changes and many years down the line, W.A.S.P. are set to release their latest album, “Golgotha”. I have to admit, my expectations of this album were low. I’ll be honest, I expected it to suck a large dose of dog’s balls, but you know what, it ain’t half bad! Ok, being honest, this is no match for their earlier albums and the song writing overall never hits the heights they attained with “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “Blind In Texas” but this is actually a decent W.A.S.P. album that does hark back to their classic era. Opening track “Scream” is a fine tune, and something of an album highlight. In all honesty it wouldn’t have sounded out of place on “Inside The Electric Circus”. As an opening gambit it gives the listener the hope that this isn’t going to be a wasted effort. Perhaps more surprising is second track “Last Runaway”. While the song retains W.A.S.P.’s trademark big guitars and metal sound it betrays an almost Springsteen like influence. Imagine if The Boss had grown up listening to Kiss. The song’s melodies show Blackie Lawless maturing as he approaches his 60th year. From this point on the album is traditional W.A.S.P. fodder…big on guitars and pumping rhythms, not to mention excellent musicianship. Blackie Lawless may not have quite the snarl he had in his younger days but his voice is still mightily impressive, particularly on the centrepiece ballad “Miss You” which rocks out of the gate in a blaze of widling guitars like the last 30 years never happened.
W.A.S.P. aren’t doing anything new at this point in their career, and that is certainly no bad thing. In these times when musical nostalgia is big business and bands are plundering their own past to maintain a career into the future W.A.S.P. have succeeded in producing an album that draws heavily on the sound and style of their glory years…and that is almost certainly what the fans want, this fan certainly does. When your hand waivers over the W.A.S.P. section of your CD collection, the chances are you will go for some of their earlier, classic works, but this is an album that, from time to time, you will pull out for a change of scene…and thoroughly enjoy it!