A while ago I posted the first part of my favourite W.A.S.P. tracks, dealing with the 20th century releases. Proceed under the cut for a selection of the more recent stuff…
2001’s Unholy Terror was a mix of horror comedy and mystical takes on more serious topics. It should be obvious which I prefer =)
Charisma as a living entity ruining the lives of people (getting political again!).
This one is rock’n’roll’ish guitar-wise, but the speed and the lyrics (let alone the melody) qualify it as metal, IMO =)
And here’s the “too unconventional” instrumental mentioned in the first post – but if you listen close, you’ll actually hear some very familiar Blackie leitmotifs.
The 2002 Dying for the World (written on the heels of the 11/09 attack) was my first full W.A.S.P. album, I think. It’s fairly different from the norm.
The opening track is as ominous as it gets, with a lot of vocals being sung uncharacteristically low:
And the second one is a serious contender for the “best W.A.S.P. track of all time” nomination:
There are other tracks on that one that are almost as good as the openers. If I were recommending which W.A.S.P. album to buy in full, I’d actually say Dying for the World, honest. Not sure if it’s a “first record heard” kinda bias or if it’s really as much of a cut above, but well. Yes, buy it if you can.
Then came 2004 and the two-part Neon God saga. It’s a religious kinda story that also reminds you of the Crimson Idol plot. Archetypes, whatever. A creepy story without a happy ending. It gave us a couple of amazing ballads…
…and some mind-blowing fast tracks. This one is oldschool power metal type of heavy:
This one has those bluesy guitars (and that Hammond, well), but still enough energy:
Immediately followed by a particularly inspired track that appears to marry these styles rather well:
Starting with Dominator (2007), Blackie swapped those 279.48% analog tape production values (that some people – who have never heard anything Charlie Bauerfeind ever recorded, mixed and mastered, obviously – call “muddy”) for something clearer. The lineup was new as well – on the drums, Mike Dupke replaced Stet Howland (who is now with Metal Church, imagine that!), and Doug Blair returned on the guitar full-time. Blair is one of those guitarists who always grab my attention and never let go. And not because he still looks great shirtless, but because of how great he plays. He’s one of those very few metal guitar players who appear to actually put a lot of thought and musicality into their leads.
The album is quite nice on the whole, but there is this politically charged track which is just right:
For the sort-of-title track off 2009’s Babylon, W.A.S.P. even shot a video. The first one since 1995’s Black Forever (and quite possibly the last to this day). Riff-wise, the song is sort of The Burning Man pt 2, as you can hear; but the lead melody is top notch:
In case you’re wondering – yes the Cyrillic parts do look hilarious.
Babylon itself is basically Dominator pt 2 – good but not groundbreaking.
W.A.S.P.’s latest studio recording was released in 2015 (and given that they’re busy with yet another one Idol anniversary re-release and tour, there’s probably nothing else coming out any soon). It’s a better record overall than the previous two and parts of The Neon God – Blackie had quite a lot of time to fix minor details because he had broken his leg badly. There are two tracks that stand out the most IMO.
The first one is the second track off the album, telling the story of Blackie’s early days in California (he’s originally from NY). Some inventive person made a fanvid with footage from the newest Mad Max. Given how much the original movie influenced the LA scene of that time, it fits perfectly.
The next one can’t be found on youtube anymore, but a part of it is on vimeo. Annoying, but still better than nothing. Political again, and Blackie does politics beautifully. He wanted to actually run for office, but then he figured that if he’s getting shot at as a rock star, he’d definitely be offed as a politician.
So that’s basically that. Not that all the other songs are bad, it’s just that these are the material I think best represents Blackie’s peak artistic achievements. Remember, he’s consciously holding himself back as a songwriter which is a damn shame.
One thing I guess you can hear well is that he’s got one of the best voices of all time, combining resonance and aggression in a rare package; a voice that doesn’t “age” at all. Damn, I envy his ability to sustain that high so effortlessly, and I’m physically female and almost thirty years younger.