W.A.S.P. – “Golgotha” (Napalm Records)
Golgotha…the place of skulls…on the face of it a dark album title with an equally ominous cover befitting a band that once had a fearsome reputation from their controversial blood n sex live shows as well as banned songs like ‘Animal – I Fuck Like A Beast’! Then with two gargantuan gods drenched in the sweat of rock n roll – bassist Blackie Lawless and guitarist Chris Holmes – W.A.S.P. took on the PMRC and terrorized the US across the 80s, building their massive fan base, along with a slew of critics. However, in 1989 they were to shock again – possibly everyone this time – by releasing the critically acclaimed “The Headless Children”, doing a complete u turn on their prior sexually explicit material and instead focussing on social and political issues! Three years later and W.A.S.P. would turn heads again on “The Crimson Idol”, a concept album whose theatrical tragedy would make it a cult release and in my opinion remains Blackie Lawless’s peak in composition as well as musical ambition. Now 30 years on, W.A.S.P. return with their 15th studio album and once again sole founder member Lawless has stirred controversy. Now a born again Christian, lyrically the album seems to draw heavily from his religion like on the title track with words like ‘Jesus I need you now…free me I’m lost somehow’ but sound wise it’s unmistakably W.A.S.P. drawing heavily from the aforementioned albums right down to Lawless’s own timeless voice – a trademark of the band. With songs like ‘Shotgun’ taking me back to ‘Blind In Texas’ and ‘Slaves Of The New Order’ to the “The Headless Children”, there are two 8 minute epics that relive the glory days of “The Headless Children”, the cathartic title track that see’s Lawless’s misplaced rage at God over the years finally see him make peace with his maker, and the dark passion power of ‘Miss You’, which reminded me of ‘The Idol’ and as it turns out, was the first song originally written for “The Crimson Idol” now finally brought to life here! With guitarist Doug Blair reputedly flying back and forth just to record his bits Lawless has once again taken a gamble which has paid off hugely as Blair’s amazing leads are in abundance and all over the album. Equally, there seems to be a definite nod back to the 70s with the abundant use of vocal harmonies on the uplifting ‘Last Runaway’ as well as the backing church organ on ‘Fallen Under’, perhaps taking those eras of the band in reminiscence. Delayed due to his personal injuries, “Golgotha” has actually proven itself in being time well spent in composition and whilst it isn’t a rehash of old glories, it is rather a collection of personal and musical challenges brought to successful conclusion both for Lawless and his creation known as W.A.S.P.