WORDS: Tim Redman
Some bands have been through hell. It’s something that we fans tend to forget sometimes. Metal has a tendency to glorify excess and debauchery. Take a man, already suffering with his own demons, and feed him into the fame machine. Give him the drugs, give him the booze, give him the women, and watch as he tears himself apart on stage screaming.
That is not the story of this album, but it is the story of its maker.
Blackie Lawless has been fronting W.A.S.P. since 1982. Gaining fame with his chainsaw codpiece and the now infamous, and disowned, track “Animal (Fuck like a Beast)” amongst others the bands saw huge success in during metals 80s heyday. As evidenced by W.A.S.P.’s back catalogue the band has long since abandoned the deliberately shock rock glam facade it was known for and has been playing metal with dark lyrical themes inspired by the life of Blackie Lawless as well as in recent years his born-again Christian beliefs. The search for redemption is, unsurprisingly, a recurring theme.
The previous two W.A.S.P. records have been really well received and considered by many to be the equal of anything the band had done previously, a fact made all the more impressive by quality of material on offer there. However six years have passed since 2009’s Babylon, the longest period in the bands history without an album. So where does Golgotha stand?
The album kicks off with Scream. A pounding tune with a lovely rocking riff running through the middle of it the song sets the scene for what is to come perfectly, leaving you in no doubt this is an old school metal album. The vocals are completely on point and Doug Blair solo’s show why the band has the reputation they do.
The Last Runaway follows on from the opener in a similar fashion. Another upbeat rocking track, with lyrics that can only have been inspired by Lawless’s life. The vocal delivery here is hauntingly beautiful, with Blackie thanking God for taking him back. “The last runaway alive, I’m coming home”.
Breaking with W.A.S.P. tradition Shotgun continue the upbeat rock approach into a third song. The guitars and vocals are intertwined on this track to great effect, showing perhaps some of the reason the album took as long to write as it did. A guitar led interlude in the middle of the track is welcome to allow the track to build for a strong finish.
Miss You is the first of the slower tracks on this album. The introspective lyrics combined with the slowly building nature of this track make it give off feelings of loss and pain. These feelings are not just induced by the lyrics as large segments of the track are instrumental. Doug Blair’s skill as a guitarist is in no doubt. A powerful track packed with emotion.
Falling halfway between the two approaches on offer so far Fallen Under manages to combine them. The musical style here is closer to the rocky early tracks of the album, but without the upbeat feeling they invoked. The lyrics again deal with Blackie Lawless’s internal struggles, creating a solid if somewhat typical W.A.S.P. track.
Slaves Of The New World Order begins with a quieter introduction before the riff kick in. Despite its length the track blasts along at a fast pace to begin with before the tempo changes both down and back up later along. The length of the track again allow for some beautiful solos and riffs to be given time in the spotlight.
Eyes Of My Maker is an odd track. While not by any means a bad track, both its slower pace and post-apocalyptic Christian lyrics are unfortunately both better represented on this album. Slowing down in the middle of its, relatively short, length doesn’t do it any favour. Sadly the track ends up being somewhat forgettable, despite having redeeming features.
An acoustic guitar introduces Hero Of The World as it begins. Blackie Lawless’s lyrics are back upto quality here, the chorus is especially catchy. With quieter verses, built to allow the story to be told, leading into the more upbeat chorus, the shortest song on the album manages to pack a little of everything into it.
Golgotha, the title track, is the last song on the album. Another of the albums longer tracks, it can be best described as an epic. With this length, it allows all aspects of the great instrumental talent on offer here to be displayed. Dealing both with the hill upon which Christ was crucified and personal struggles, the lyrics here perfectly convey the sense of helplessness and begging for redemption that has made modern W.A.S.P. such a unique band amongst its peers.
So where does it stand? The previous two W.A.S.P. albums, Babylon and Dominator, both tended towards shorter rockier songs. Golgotha does the opposite, embracing its length and allowing the songs to grow, giving them time to show off the different approaches the band is capable of. The lyrics do not shy away from Blackie’s quest for redemption and allow him to be introspective. While not perfect, this is a good album, showcasing modern W.A.S.P. well and proving the quality the band is and has always been capable of. A fine addition to their impressive catalogue, just hope the next one doesn’t take another six years.
Golgotha is set for release on October 2 via Napalm Records