Wednesday, January 30, 2013

W.A.S.P.: The Crimson Idol

Once again, I have been on a major W.A.S.P. kick lately, covering their early material and their mid-era material.  I have not had an occasion yet to check out their more recent stuff, but after all of the great stuff I have heard from the band and the surprisingly positive reviews of even their most recent material, certainly an odd thing for a band that has been around for 30 years, I may just do that.

This is the major album that I targeted when it was becoming clear to me that I needed to expand my W.A.S.P. library.  It seemed like the most interesting due to the overall concept of the album and the fact that the band had matured so much.  I mentioned in my last post about the band that The Headless Children was where the band was beginning to flex their artistic muscles somewhat and move away from the more radio-friendly sound they had started with.  It was on this album that the new W.A.S.P. truly arrived.  There are still a couple of anthemic, fist-pumping songs on here ("Arena of Pleasure" and "Chainsaw Charlie" for example), but the songwriting had matured significantly.

This is a concept album.  The story in a nutshell is about a young man from a troubled childhood who rises to superstardom as a rock star but finds out in the process that he has alienated his family and the people he cares the most about.  The final track is about the startling realization that he has fame and money but that his parents have disowned him.  It is definitely a product of its time as the 1980's were truly a greed-driven time period.  In some ways this album is a commentary on the changing fortunes of the 1980's metal/rock scene.  Many once-important bands were beginning the downhill turn of their careers.  Those that were not able to adapt would perish.  W.A.S.P. was a band that was able to adapt, though they were never as famous as they were in the 1980's.  This album in part was the start of their next era.

Musically, this album is epic.  It begins with the introductory track "The Titanic Overture" which immediately kicks into the first rampaging song "The Invisible Boy".  From there, the band keeps up a high intensity except for the occasional acoustic interlude or the one or two ballads on the album.  But none of those softer moments detract from what is an incredible album.  If anything they add to it.  They make the album feel like a complete story, not a collection of songs.  This album is a larger work of art that is hard to take apart piece by piece.  It makes more sense as a cohesive unit.

This is quite simply the best album I have heard thus far from W.A.S.P. and it will honestly be very difficult to supplant.  As much as I like The Headless Children, W.A.S.P., and The Last Command, this is an incredible album and could easily be somewhere in my Top 25 of all time.  It really is that good.  

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