While the impressive and definitely legendary 'Crimson Idol' tour was all over the world I […]
By Dimitris Kontogeorgakos
September 17, 2009
W.A.S.P. - Babylon album cover

While the impressive and definitely legendary 'Crimson Idol' tour was all over the world I was thinking that this should be W.A.S.P. fitting swan song. Watching Blackie on-stage I got the impression that his W.A.S.P. days could have reached an ending. But, Blackie was already working on the new album while on-tour simply covering the band's 'best of' songlist. Once again these performances and the frontman's 'weakness' to cover his trademark vocal range faced many raised eyebrows and even more question marks about W.A.S.P.'s future.
Summing all of the above feelings and thoughts I was completely caught off guard when I heard that a new W.A.S.P. album was already recorded and is planned for a mid October release. Prior to the listening sessions I could not make my mind whether I would like to review this album since my love for Blackie's musical whereabouts could block my fair judgment. But as it turned out Blackie has done it again with another concept album based on the apocalyptic four horsemen.
Having in mind one of the best concept album in the history of Metal entitled The Crimson Idol I had great expectations about Babylon. The expectations of mine have much to do with my belief that Blackie is not only a charismatic composer but he has real strong writing hand. There are many times -even more now with Obama's presidency- that Blackie put his words on paper giving strong blows to the reader's mind.
Crazy is the album opener and I could not but think the guitar riff of Wild Child. The addictive groove and Blackie's signature voice have nothing to do with the grave atmosphere that should cover the Apocalypse - inspired lyrics. But who cares? The song is a perfect concert opener plus it comprises excellent guitar leads courtesy of Doug Blair. In fact, Doug is a killer driving force for W.A.S.P. and this becomes vivid on every concert where he adds a special vibe on every single guitar lead and solo. It is pretty clear that Blackie has given him more space to shine and not only on-stage but also in the studio. Just listen to the killer solo in Babylon's Burning and the addictive main melody that will set anchor to your mind from the very first CD spin. The galloping rhythm goes along as the four horsemen ride to bring this pathetic world to an end while Blackie sings Babylon's Burning. This track reminded of the political oriented Headless Children album and I bet the Babylon concept is quite allegoric capturing the confusing -to the level of panic- state this world has got into. One thing I surely miss from the Crimson Idol days is the killer drums of Mr. Banali. Ok, Dupke does a great job here but he cannot stand besides Frankie's hard hittin' drum changes and tempo breaks as featured in the aforementioned album.
These praising words could go forever but some complaints are also here to press the breaks. As I said Babylon is a concept album so, something more than just 7 tracks plus two cover song was expected. Actually, the decision to cover DEEP PURPLE's Burn adds nothing to this fresh W.A.S.P. effort. Fortunately, Burn is followed by Into The Fire. This is ballad in W.A.S.P.'s way with passionate vocals and some hammond-like keyboards that certainly carry some of Ken Hensley's finishing touches in Headless Children. Once again I have to underline the impressive musical bondage between Blackie and Doug. This song reaches a powerful climax where the lyrics read Give in to the fire, get down your knees and the guitar solo enters to give some piece of mind and leads to the inevitable catharsis. The second cover is on Chuck Berry' Promised Land that sounds really cool (and 100% heavier) where Blackie tries to imitate Elvis' voice who has also done a version of his own. But here I go again praising the album while I should stay on the complaining path... So, I should say that from the concept point of view W.A.S.P. kind of failed to 'dress' musically the Four Horsemen 'story.' Not that it matters to me but when you are dealing with matters concerning the apocalypse and the end of the world then a dark atmosphere should cover the music. But, Babylon comes with an uplifting mood apart from the hair raising Godless Run that works almost solo on the concept's favor.
The band has already scheduled a quite 'heavy' tour program and this is another surprise to me taking into consideration the rumors that this would be the last album / tour for W.A.S.P. that has been around for quite a while. But, with albums like Babylon we would not like to see this rumors turning into actual facts. Don't we?

8 / 10


"Babylon" Track-listing:

Live To Die Another Day
Babylon's Burning
Into The Fire
Thunder Red
Seas Of Fire
Godless Run
Promised Land

W.A.S.P. Lineup:

Blackie Lawless - Vocals, Guitar
Doug Blair - Guitar
Mike Duda - Bass
Mike Dupke - Drums

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