Love them or hate them, WASP have been at the pinnacle of the music scene for a number of years, this is their latest opus that follows an unusual long break between albums. For the record, frontman and long standing hell raiser (until recently that is!) Blackie Lawless has had both personal family bereavements, some major operations and thus time has meant that this album can at least be a more relevant release than something that may have been written a few years back.
Historically, there is the classic trio of albums, then came ‘The Headless Children’ and ‘The Crimson Idol’ which were much more epic albums and of course the contentious period following this that has to be fair given us some cracking albums like ‘The Unholy Terror’ and even ‘Babylon’. That said, how will this one fair? With the UK tour already in progress as I write this, no doubt most will have heard the new tracks. For me, this is a perfect continuation of an album like ‘The Crimson Idol’ and their last outing ‘Babylon’.
Starting with ‘Scream’ you get the impression its business as usual, then you get ‘Last Runaway’ which is filled with some amazing melodies. There is a big inclusion of an organ on these tracks, not too overbearing, strong enough to boost the power of the songs that started to become an influence around 1989 for WASP. Then there is the haunting, emotive masterpiece ‘Miss You’. This was actually one of the first tracks written during the ‘The Crimson Idol’ recording sessions, but never completed. WASP always made remarkable ballads, starting with ‘Sleeping (In the Fire)’ way back in 1984, the vocal strength and ability to build up a track is still amazing. The first time I heard this it actually make my hair on my arms stand on end. Of course, the location in the running order of this release is pretty much a perfect resting spot, but when you listen to the guitar solo, that is so fitting, so emotive, this is a perfect accompaniment to the stunning vocal melody. Following this, ‘Slaves of the New World Order’ is a rocking epic track, similar to material of the last few releases as is the religious leanings of the album title track (which is the site where Christ was crucified outside of Jerusalem’s walls), even with the albums dark imagery of the album cover itself.
All in all, for all there is nothing I would call objectionable about the latest WASP album, I would say it is a wonderful continuation and development of the most recent sound and style that started properly in 1992. I am really glad that they haven’t gone retro and re-produced their early stuff (I do admittedly really want that at some point if I am honest!), it sounds like an album that’s fitting for this time, a mature continuation of the WASP journey and a perfect balance of the latter and mid period musically. Whilst the band used to strive on controversy, WASP now strive on musical ability and Blackie Lawless’ magic touch when it comes to penning very stylish songs and albums.
(8.5/10 Paul Maddison)