Friday, November 4, 2016

Music Review - WASP - Golgotha

I guess I'm not a WASP guy, Christian or not. I haven't felt compelled to listen to this album since I wrote the review.
Back in the mid-eighties I admit to having a couple of W.A.S.P. albums (on cassette) and specifically remember rocking out in my room to “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “Blind In Texas.” Great catchy metal, those songs. I didn’t keep up with this band whose singer wore circular sawblades on the arms of his black leather glam-rock outfit but while I was busy going to college and raising a family Blackie Lawless soldiered on, oblivious to my own obliviousness, releasing over a dozen albums and converting to Christianity. First Alice, then Blackie… can Marilyn be that far off?

And so it was with much fear and trepidation that I approached Golgotha, ther fifteenth album. W.A.S.P. was never known for introspective lyrics and I’ve heard more than my share of Christian cheese so I braced for the worst. Add to this that Blackie is pushing sixty and I’ve also heard more than my share of aging rockers who just aren’t up to the task of melting your face off. One listen to the single, “Scream,” and I am happy to admit that all my fears were for naught. This is classic W.A.S.P. with in-your-face guitars pulsing with energy backing Blackie’s distinctive raspy buzz-saw vocals that are in excellent form. Lyrically I’m impressed. Sure he’s still no Shakespeare but he’s fortunately also not Stryper. Instead Mr. Lawless continues his string of invigorating rock anthems with lyrics that are pro-God but are handled in such a way that they aren’t heavy handed. Exhibit one: The chorus from “Eyes of My Maker”: “Take me inside / Can you bring me alive? / How can I kneel / When my soul’s a liar?” Read into it what you want. I suppose a Cannibal Corpse fan might be offended by the lyrics but only if they’re a mamby-pamby girly man.

As you would expect from W.A.S.P. Golgotha is loaded with faster songs such as the Bon Jovi-esque “Last Runaway” or “Shotgun”, which reminds me a bit of “Blind in Texas” especially in the way Blackie belts out the vocals with the strength of a twenty-year old. “Slaves of the New World Order” takes advantage of its eight-minute length to explore a number of different moods and rhythms, such as “Let me kick you in the kidneys with my steel toed boots” in the guitar solo section. On the other end of the spectrum, but also nearly eight minutes long, is the fervent power ballad “Miss You” that goes down nice and easy until the chorus when it steamrolls you with a wall of sound, paving the way to one of many melodic and dazzling guitar solos on the album. The whole shebang closes with the title track, a powerful epic if ever there was one, where Lawless cries out “Jesus I need you now” in the chorus with such honest passion that you’ll get goose bumps regardless of your chosen deity.

What started out as curiosity has led me to an all new level of respect for Blackie Lawless. Somehow he was able to make a rock solid melodic power metal album that remains true to his faith and yet doesn’t alienate those fans who have differing beliefs.

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