Having first heard WASP when I listed to 'The Crimson Idol' as a sixteen year old, I didn't hear them again until I picked up the 'Double Live Assassins' album, due to not having been too impressed by them. Then they reissued their few albums and I got those on the strength of enjoying the material that was on the live album. The first one was fucking awesome and although they'd never hit those heights again, they did have their highlights. As mentioned, Chris Holmes was the lead guitarist in WASP for a while, hence the connection to this album. This blog is to sate my curiosity as a Facebook mate has been singing this albums praises recently.
One look at the front cover of this album is enough to realize that we're more than likely not going to get music that's groundbreaking, original and likely to change the world. Here goes...
1) Intro - mainly a piano piece with electric guitar licks in the background. It sings the 80's, which is no surprise. Things start to build up towards the end and it becomes more interesting, even though the next time you hear this will be as the intro tape for the live show. This seamlessly slides into...
2) Shitting Bricks - is the next track and is a mid-paced rocker which sounds like WASP with Fred Flintstone on vocals. Or more accurately - WASP without the finesse and panache that Blackie Lawless brought to the table. Before he became a Republican Born Again Christian Fuck-Nugget that refuses to play certain songs but that's a rant for another time. The ideal song to get drunk and bash your head against the wall to. While your mum watches. The police siren playing throughout the song outstays it's welcome, however.
3) Nevermind - Clean guitar and keyboards which seems out of place after the last song. It is basically an overlong intro and you find yourself waiting for the bit where everything comes crashing in and the song begins but it never happens, which is a disappointment. It's a shame as although it's a great piece of music, it's about two minutes too long.
4) Get With It - here we go, more rock stuff! Basically telling the subject of the song to wise up - highly ironic coming from the man who, according to Slash in his autobiography said something about how black people can't or shouldn't play guitar (or words to that effect, use your imagination). Bombastic and with some good solos, it's another one to bang your head to. Mid-section is nice too.
5) Born Work Die - basically about how you seem to spend your time working but don't have much to show for it and that maybe a life of crime would be preferable. Has the kind of acoustic intro which sounds very country & western. It's trying to be some kind of "blue collar anthem" and although I can see it's point, the fact that the vocals sound like some kind of cliched Joe-Sixpack type character let the song down. Sure, there's nothing wrong with injecting a character into your vocals - particularly if you're playing a character - but Holmes is trying far too hard here. It's like a (really fucking shit) Sylvester Stallone movie called Cobra - it has a message but hammers it home in the most meat-headed manner with all the subtlety of a raging bull on Viagra. The music is excellent though.
6) Let It Roar - holy shit, it's an 80's wrestling theme. It's an action movie montage theme. It's a sports montage theme. It's the backing music for an Armed Forces recruitment video. It's UTTERLY FUCKING GLORIOUS!!! This is fucking unashamed, unabated METAL! Proper 80's vibe here, which isn't surprising. This is totally going to be the music for my alarm clock. Solid beat, great solo, the whole thing rocks like an absolute fucking beast. Fuck it, I'm listening to this one again...
7) TFMF - bringing the pace down a notch, this is a bit slower but we cannot have everything the same. It's not too bad, to be fair. Some nice solos and solid music. A man has more than two faces, apparently.
8) Long Gone - ooh, slow arpeggioed clean intro with electric licks, it can only mean on thing - power ballad! Get those lighters in the air! Gonna be interesting to hear this one since the vocals on this album have been...interesting, to say the least. Turns out there are no vocals as it's an instrumental but it's a good one. Better than the previous instrumentals on this album.
9) In My Mouth - another rocker, which is about fellatio. We were never going to get Chaucer with this album. The female back-up vocals which sing 'In My Mouth' sound cool. As with the majority of material on this album, it's best reserved for a live setting.
10) 502 - not a cover of the Megadeth song of the same name (it's on So Far, So Good, So What), but about the same subject, driving offences. Another solid rocker, with has a narration of a would-be arresting officer intersped within the chorus. It should be cheesy as hell but it's actually quite atmospheric.
11) Don't Care - hmm, seems to be another song where Holmes is playing a character role due to the quirky vocals, they could almost pass for Alice Cooper's grumpy Grandad. It's also the kind of song with quiet, almost clean verses then loud choruses. It's a format which has been done by many, many bands before. Not too bad, but there are better on here.
12) Vegas Nightmare - about trailer trash, which I guess is how Chris Holmes sees himself. Quite a vicious song, slow and brooding too. Venom in the vocals, nice. Another good solo.
And that's that. First off, the album is musically thirty years too late. It's what "heavy metal" was before it became a few sub-genres and sub-genres withing the sub-genres. The type of "heavy metal" which is more than welcome in today's world. Fans of WASP - or even this particular brand of "heavy metal" will get some enjoyment out of it. The rest of you would be best off trying before buying as it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea due to not only it's old-school approach and outlook but also - the vocals. They're all over the place. One minute, he's sounding like a drunken Fred Flintstone and the other, he's doing weird voices. It doesn't work all the time. But other than that, we have a solid album which has enough evidence in it's guitar work - both solos and rhythm - to prove that Chris Holmes is still an excellent guitarist. No doubt this album will a lot of fun for some. Just don't expect anything new.
7 - This is good and well worth a check.
Top Tune: Let It Roar.
This album is available on iTunes.
(YES! It's only the official fucking music video!!!)