|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Blackie Lawless|
|Record Label: Napalm||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website: W.A.S.P.|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 54:16|
My faith is based on Jesus Christ and the Bible, nothing more, nothing less. – Blackie Lawless
Icon. A word overused to the point that perhaps we have lost sight of what it really means. A closer look reveals things in their proper perspective:
noun \ˈī-ˌkän\ ·n. 1. a very famous person or thing and who people think represents a particular idea. 2. an object of uncritical devotion. 3. a sign (as a word or graphic symbol) whose form suggests its meaning. Synonyms included hero and idol.
If any band within the metal and hard rock circles deserves the notoriety that icon status brings it would have to be W.A.S.P. The infamous ‘shock rock’ act founded by vocalist and guitarist Blackie Lawless came roaring out of the early eighties Los Angeles metal scene alongside Van Halen, Motley Crue, Dokken, Quiet Riot and Ratt and has not looked back since. With 15 studio albums, 3 live albums and 3 compilations to its credit - that have combined to sell over 12 million copies worldwide - the group has established a four decade legacy that remains to this day. Without doubt the W.A.S.P. form suggests consistency, hard work and longevity- particulars it has delivered in spades.
Part of that W.A.S.P. legacy in question involves a more controversial side. It starts with said ‘shock rock’ image but also encompasses offensive lyrics and outrageous live shows that featured real life horror-video footage and a torture rack. Certain W.A.S.P. song and album titles include a four-letter word that we cannot repeat here- keeping in mind that Angelic Warlord is a family program (or at the very least, we wish to maintain a PG rating). Several acronyms for the W.A.S.P. moniker are every bit less flattering. In the mid-eighties, W.A.S.P. even garnered attention from the ‘Parents Music Resource Center”, an organization pushing for warning labels on recorded music, which led to the group receiving bomb and death threats and Lawless being shot at twice (but not hit).
The past several years, however, have found Lawless exhibiting a decided change of heart in which he has embraced the faith based ways of his past. The artist sums up his early church background in a recent online interview:
“I went to church in my teens and I went because I wanted to. I left in my late teens and came to California and studied the occult for three years. I went as far away as you could possibly go. I realized there was no truth and then I wandered around bumping into walls for the next 20 years, thinking I was mad at God. I realized that I wasn’t mad at God but I was mad at man for the indoctrination I received.”
He goes into further detail about his return to the faith:
“For me I had to settle this issue once and for all because I am not going to walk around with this anxiety of what’s going to happen to me and where I’m going, I got to know the truth. I got the Bible and I started reading and I thought I was going to disprove this thing once and for all.
“I discover that it’s 66 books written by 40 different authors spread out over 2,000 years in three continents. Most of these people didn’t know each other. I’m also aware that people think the Bible is written by man even if the Bible is inspired by God. I thought I would prove it isn’t true reading from an attitude of extreme prejudice. The more I read I realized that people weren’t just answering each other’s questions—they were finishing each other’s sentences. When I realized that, I recognized I was looking at the supernatural. I finally realized I was reading the Living Word of the Living God. And I was coming from a perspective of extreme prejudice, trying to disprove it. I’ll say this in short: it’s beyond impossible that men could have written this.”
Lawless’ faith began to manifest itself on the W.A.S.P. 2009 release Babylon, with its Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse cover art and musical testimony that is aptly entitled track “Godless Run”:
Long had I gone to be, a slave to my eyes.
Lost at that cross to kneel, amazing grace saved my life
Oh how long Lord, did I kneel at the crossroads and run.
Oh, bow down now, my King, my God I come.
Oh I will not run from You, lost on my road of ruin.
No I will not run from You, in my Godless run
He further expands upon the meaning behind the title of the fall of 2015 W.A.S.P. follow up effort Golgotha:
“Golgotha is Hebrew for place of the skull and it’s the hill where Christ was crucified. It’s interesting when you see a lot of bands going around using Satanic images, or images of death and things like that, and I’m thinking all they need to do is look at the source cause it’s right there. If you want death, there’s enough to go around there.”
Golgotha finds Lawless making the even more pronounced statement of faith throughout, describing his lyrics as “written from the eyes of my faith, everything is through that filter.” Consider, for instance, how he composed the albums title track from the standpoint of the believing thief:
Tell me where I'm going now, tell me am I going down
Are you who they say you claim, remember me this nigh
Jesus I need You now, show me I'm lost somehow
Oh, and show me there's a way fro, the cross from where I hang
Oh see me bleed, I need You now
Musically, the song represents a good indicator of the albums direction with its technical but accessible joining of metal and hard rock with light keyboard imprints. Those that suggest Golgotha represents a musical extension of the previous two W.A.S.P. releases, including Babylon but also 2007’s Dominator, have the right idea. “Golgotha” also comes in at a full seven and a half minutes, engaging in terms of its moving chorus that captures the moment at hand and desperate emotion to Lawless’ trademark soulful if not rumbling vocal style. I like to think of his delivery as a blade sharpened by the passion his rediscovered faith brings to the table.
Also approaching eight minutes is “Slaves Of The New World Order”, dark and moody with its more galloping tempo while basking in every bit as much candid melody. The extensive instrumental section allows talented guitarist Douglass Blair (I cannot say enough good things about his work) to exhibit his accomplished soloing abilities. Lyrically, this one also touches upon the crucifixion:
Hold the tail and feel the thunder
Close enough to smell the devil's breath
Between the nails I saved one thief
And ride to hell and lay waste to death
Woe is me I stand before you
And part a sea of eternity
Bloody nails, I waited and prayed
But your deceived and laid to waste
Class semi-ballad “Miss You” is of similar length. Airy and celestial, the song drifts through its verses as lighter guitars decorate the sublime scene, not picking up impetus until full on rhythm guitars build and deliver the more pronounced blow for the heartrending refrain. Lyrics could be interpreted as being about ‘missing God’ in your life:
Lost inside my head, I closed my eyes and fled
No pain, no gain, no death no more, I drown myself in flesh
Is there no way out no way how Would you even know me now
Oh God I miss you - tell me can you hear me
Oh God I miss you - I can't scream and I can't speak
A bit abbreviated at five minutes, “Fallen Under” also makes a faith-based statement:
Show me wonders, take me under, Your wings open wide.
Slave and hunger, starve and hunt you
Heal me from this leper's life
Save me from crawling in darkness, Save me so blind.
Change me from a slave unto monsters
Raise me from this water to wine
The song takes a decisive mid-paced heading, portent and ominous with its haunting nuances and incisive rhythm guitar imprints. The hulking refrain lends to the foreboding environs at hand. “Hero Of The World” also points towards the mid-paced. The song lightly treads its verses in airy acoustic fashion, gaining momentum at once as more decisive rhythm guitars step forward to adorn the barbed chorus. Blair lends another fanciful stretch of rhythm guitar to a song focusing on End Times themes:
Countdown comes to zero
Valley of the Kings
Messiah Man with a better plan
Hero of the world at last
The clock has turned and soon you see
Masses burn and fill the streets
Still we make a lying prophet god
Ooh panic comes and chaos seeds
Sell your freedom for tyranny
Tidal wave is coming better run
“Eyes Of My Maker” represents albums heaviest with its more elevated heading. The song churns tumultuously to grinding guitars, rollicking its length as the rumbling low-end contrasts with delicate keyboard signatures. According to the artist, “Eyes Of My Maker” is written from Satan’s point of view:
I am fell and I've been cursed
My rebellion from my pride
And I chose a third and I fooled the earth
Loosed in heaven like a noose I bind
Behold I tell, of a bolt I fell
Of lightning in the sky
Ooh and preyed on Eve to curse and grieve
Ooh and I'm damned for all time
Golgotha highlights its share of up-tempo moments as well, including opener “Scream”, with its groove driven hard rock approach that yields equal parts hook driven and the remorselessly searing, and “Shotgun”, heavier with more of a metal basis in upholding an anthem arena rock aura that might have challenged for radio play in another era. “Last Runaway” plays up a straight on rock style with its greater keyboard emphasis and warm, uplifting front to back milieu. Lyrically, the artist writes about his coming to Hollywood 40 years ago as a teenager:
The price of pride bled down on me
And ransomed my soul
A broken boulevard of dreams
Like misfits and their broken toys
A runaway a slave in chains
I'd lose control
So painlessly, so hard to see
Down this beggar's road
And help me Lord to make it
This weights too great to lift my soul no more
The six year delay between the release of Babylon and Golgotha attributes to both W.A.S.P. completing its 30th anniversary tour in 2012 and Lawless breaking his leg the following May and the one-year recovery period that ensued. This proved a blessing in disguise in that it allowed the artist to spend that much more time on and ultimately perfecting the Golgotha material. The results speak for themselves in that while I am not intimately familiar with the W.A.S.P. back catalog, I mirror the overall positive tone that most reviewers bring to Golgotha. Specifically, I find Golgotha the more cohesive release in comparison to Babylon, which included two covers out of its nine tracks. When I saw that Golgotha also included only nine, I was concerned in thinking the group should have come up with more material in light of said six year delay, but that proved a misnomer in that Golgotha rounds out to a satisfying 54 minutes when factoring the length of individual tracks, all of which are original.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Scream” (4:56), “Last Runaway” (5:20), “Shotgun” (6:08), “Miss You” (7:41), “Fallen Under” (4:57), “Slaves Of The New World Order” (7:45), “Eyes Of My Maker” (5:01), “Hero Of The World” (4:52), “Golgotha” (7:37)
Blackie Lawless - Lead Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards
Douglass Blair - Lead Guitar
Mike Duda - Bass
Michael Dupke – Drums
(Unattributed): Interview: Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.): (www.invisibleoranges.com/2015/09/interview-blackie-lawless-w-a-s-p): (Sept 24, 2015)
Ramanand, Liz: W.A.S.P. Frontman Blackie Lawless Delves Deep Into His Faith + New Album ‘Golgotha’: Exclusive Interview: (http://ultimateclassicrock.com/blackie-lawless-2015-interview): (Sept 26, 2015)
(Unattributed): W.A.S.P. Performs Title Track Of New Album 'Golgotha' In Belfast: (www.blabbermouth.net/news/video-w-a-s-p-performs-title-track-of-new-album-golgotha-in-belfast): (Sept 19, 2015)