You ever notice how most people either totally love or really hate W.A.S.P.? I could never understand just what it was that divided people that way. Sure, they were shock-rock and there were gimmicks, but then, what band worth their salt WASN’T trying to do something visually edgy to get ahead back in the 80’s? Me, I always fell somewhere in the middle. Liking about half of each album they put out, from the self-titled debut to Inside the Electric Circus, I never found that complete offering from start to finish until The Headless Children, the high watermark which I continue to measure all subsequent ones against. Since then there have been a few hits and misses, but mostly hits (notably The Crimson Idol and Babylon, both of which are very, very good!)
So now here it is 2015, and W.A.S.P. have finally seen fit to grace us with new music in the form of Golgotha (out now, Napalm Records) a collection of nine new songs that will please the longtime fans for sure. The first thing I noticed is the production: big, beefy, and arena-ready. The second thing is how ageless Blackie Lawless sounds. He sounds like the same young kid whose raspy delivery made “The Flame”, “Ballcrusher”, and “Blind In Texas” the kickass metal anthems they were and still are to this day.
As soon as you hit PLAY and “Scream” starts you’ll be magically transported back to 1989’s Headless era, with lead guitarist Doug Blair complementing Blackie’s playing and vocals with terrific harmonies. This carries over into first single and one of The Maestro’s Top 5 Songs of 2015, “Last Runaway.” I can’t hear this without repeating it six or seven times. It’s simply fantastic and bassist Mike Duda and drummer Mike Dupke really get this horse to gallop. The chorus is one of the year’s most majestic and is now cemented as one of my favorite W.A.S.P. songs of all time. The ass-kicking continues with “Shotgun,” my other favorite on the disc. That guitar sound is something else, and it’s perfect for some high speed driving and ticket-getting. Chorus “Hail to the King of Shotgunnn!!” begs to be screamed out the fucking car window, too!!
“Slaves of the New World Order” shows that this band still has a full tank of gas and is totally capable of producing anthems like they did before and likely will again. With a run time of 7:42 the ballad “Miss You” not only gets a bit wearisome, but also derails the record’s momentum. It’s just OK, not great and it’s just too much. On the flip side “Hero of the World” has a definitive push and pull, the calm vs. the storm that makes it another album standout. “Eyes of My Maker” and “Fallen Under” are pretty good tracks but nothing to write home about other than the stellar solos from Blair.
Which brings us to album closer and title track “Golgotha”, the third of the seven-minute plus trifecta. Again, I liked it but didn’t love it. It’s got a nice build-up and deep subject matter but it just didn’t move me as much as it should have. Welp…at the end of the day I loved five tunes, and merely liked the rest. Good news is I didn’t hate any, and I will definitely be taking in the W.A.S.P. live show if they tour the U.S. So grab your copy of Golgotha today and please, tell us what you thought of it. We’d love to know whether you guys and gals dig it or not!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Last Runaway”, “Scream”, “Shotgun”, Hero of the World”, “Slaves of the New World Order”