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W.A.S.P. - Golgotha


by Matt Hensch

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Starting with the basics, W.A.S.P. is a tremendous band. Few seem to know quality albums were still being pumped and dumped by Blackie Lawless and his fornication squad years after W.A.S.P. hit the axiomatic g-spot with "The Headless Children" and "The Crimson Idol." "Dominator" and Babylon," for instance, are freakishly satisfying given the taxes time and internal instability cost, yet their qualities remain armored and firm. "Golgotha," however, marks the point where modern-era W.A.S.P. becomes too anesthetized to do more than twitch. The urgency and fire that were still burning hot years after they should've been extinguished by the usual factors have begun to fade, be it from nature or circumstance, and there are many reasons for this failing to bring the whisper back to a scream. When all is said and done, "Golgotha"-excuse the pun-is self-crucifixion.

Blackie still sounds fine, although the voice that was once a flamethrower now knows its limits, and maybe that's a good thing. "Golgotha" isn't restricted by age, but style. It is a pacified version of this band without the bite; this is something evident in the songwriting. The tracks are lighthearted and feathery for a heavy metal group: the crisp in the guitar tone is gone, the texture is driven by a passive rock ideology, and there really isn't any adventure left in the W.A.S.P. machine. Most of the album's tunes strike like pillows more than mallets, leaving the atmosphere and drive sedated. W.A.S.P. is no longer in the business of writing steely-eyed dropkicks like "Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)," and that's fine. The deficit in quality, however, is not.

W.A.S.P. is at the point where the music has a hard time avoiding retracing itself, and at times justifying its existence. "Scream" might as well be a sequel to "Crazy" given its structure, and the plodding "Miss You" ballad finds its melodies and themes loaned from the much-better "Heaven's Hung in Black." Then again, the W.A.S.P. style wasn't breaking new ground on "Dominator" or "Babylon," but it had a now-defunct sense of passion, although the songs that do make an impact are explosive and bring back some vitality. "Slaves of the New World Order" detonates with the tempo and urgency of modern W.A.S.P. finding a spark to light that wonderfully familiar fuse. "Shotgun" is another excellent one-a brazen rocker finding a nice crevice between The Who and heavy metal that allows it to gestate comfortably for six minutes. While not horrible, the rest is just inoffensive and passive.

Raking "Golgotha" over the coals for its Christian lyrics may seem like taking cash from the collection plate, but they are pretty terrible. Hearing Blackie croon to Jesus throughout the title track bends any semblance of inspiration or humble faith that may have existed into something that's just tiringly overzealous. I'm passionate about identifying continuity errors in porn movie storylines, but that doesn't mean I'm flaunting it around publicly. The slim pickings of "Dominator" and "Babylon" from which "Golgotha" was made are too soft and lukewarm to continue the late-in-the-game success. There are noteworthy moments worth hunting down for a taste of that newfound W.A.S.P. quality, though the number of mediocre tunes usurp the throne. "Golgotha" is the body of "Dominator" and "Babylon" without the bones.

W.A.S.P. - Golgotha
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