Back in the day, W.A.S.P. were considered a massive name when it came to cranking out great metal anthems, thanks to a series of impressive albums from their self-titled debut to 1989’s acclaimed The Headless Children. By the early 90’s however, the band had become fractured, and frontman/bandleader Blackie Lawless would cave to pressure and release a long-gestating solo album, The Crimson Idol, under the band’s name. In a twist of fate, that album would go on to become one of the band’s most beloved in their canon, and one of the most acclaimed concept albums in rock music. Now, some two and a half decades later, Lawless has decided to revisit the album, pack in a few more songs, and the result is ReIdolized.
Whereas the 1992 original comprised ten songs and clocked in at a touch under an hour, here W.A.S.P. have extended the runtime by six more songs and nearly 25 minutes. The first of these new cuts, Michael’s Song is a sub-two-minute instrumental piece that serves basically as a segue between previous track The Gypsy Meets The Boy and another new cut – an eight minute long glorious power-ballad entitled Miss You. Initially starting off as a slow and sparse number, the track gradually builds to an emotional crescendo that hits with the force of the band in their heyday prime and feels like the first truly necessary addition to the record.
Elsewhere, there’s another pair of more interlude-feeling tracks in the form of Hey Mama and Show Time, but also another pair of more substantial songs. The Lost Boy is first, and quickly sets off at gallop pace with a tone more akin to power metal than anything. Lawless’ vocals are excellent here, and his emotive delivery helps illustrate perfectly the dark nature of the record’s narrative themes. The Peace, meanwhile, is an insanely overblown ballad that could easily give BON JOVI a run for their money, with bright airy vocals and an almost-choral and angelic feel at times.
Elsewhere, there’s not really much that can be said for the remainder of ReIdolized. Whilst it’s definitely nice to hear slightly better-sounding versions of W.A.S.P. favourites like Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue) and Doctor Rockter, it’s difficult to argue for the necessity of such a reworking when the changes only really amount to a handful of new songs and some interludes of questionable necessity. Purist fans of the band will probably feel slightly ambivalent towards the reinterpreted versions of the songs they’ve grown to love over the years, given the nature of the changes, however for those yet to discover the original album, it’s probably fair to say that ReIdolized might be a better jumping-on point that the original The Crimson Idol simply owing to the vastly improved production and mastering job found on these versions. For everyone else though, unless the new songs properly grab you, perhaps stick with the original.
ReIdolized (The Soundtrack to the Crimson Idol) is out now via Napalm Records.
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