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A Newly Reborn W.A.S.P ?! - 86%

Stein23, May 11th, 2009

Here is a simple question for you – What sounds like W.A.S.P. but is a heavier version of W.A.S.P.? Well, the answer is pretty simple when looking at the title of this review. Yes, it's the Animal project of ex-W.A.S.P. guitarist, Randy Piper and his, what is inferred from this current release and past releases of Animal, will to create some sort of W.A.S.P. as seen through his own eyes. There is another good example from the Metal world regarding this sort of band. When Uwe Lulis left Grave Digger, he formed a band that is almost exactly in the same vein and created his version of Grave Digger with Rebellion.

Before Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P took the rhythm guitar in 1986, which effected Randy Piper’s role in the band, Randy was a partner to two great releases by W.A.S.P., their first self titled, W.A.S.P. and the amazing 1985 album The Last Command. After Randy’s departure from W.A.S.P. back in 1986, two years later he formed Animal, probably after the song by W.A.S.P. from 1984, which can be seen as his effort to recreate the feeling of W.A.S.P..

Animal has a much heavier approach, the Heavy Metal way, with some small add-ons in comparison to W.A.S.P.’s approach which was more a mixture of Heavy Metal with Hard Rock elements. The thing that is a bit unfortunate is that the first release to surface by Animal was in the year 2002, 14 years after the band’s formation. While forming the group, Randy took the great vocalist, Rich Lewis, who displays great vocal abilility and resembles Blackie Lawless’ vocal line and style but with less raspier edges. Also for this release Randy took on another guitarist to maximize the band’s power... Chris Laney.

Virus displays a great sound production with a lot of strength and power. The sound can be almost immediately recognized as a W.A.S.P. influenced 80’s and 90’s sound. However, the guitars are much heavier and the vocals a bit more melodic.

The material, generally, is very good, again, with a lot of W.A.S.P. influences from their classic years and their 90’s era. For Example: “Cardiac Arrest”, “Unnatural High” and “Shoot To Kill”. Yet, Randy tried to add some elements of his own with some great riffs and amazing solos. Regarding the lyrics, they are much similar to W.A.S.P.’s themes about Madness, Love and Life issues. The thing that is missing in the release is more energetic and flowing songs. The most driving one is the opener, “Cardiac Arrest”. This lack of pace change can, maybe, bore some of the new listeners. There is a considerable portion of the songs that is laid back with low or mid tempo ones. The expectation was fpr more than two fast tracks that will yield more energy.

Also included here is a cover song for The Cranberries' “Zombie”. Here Animal do a great job of making a low tempo song into something more energetic and melodic under Rich Lewis’s great vocals which are much more exciting than the original.

Virus, a wide collection of tracks that are performed with high quality, but not all of them are exciting as they can, potentially, be. The best ones that can be extracted are the opener, “Cardiac Arrest”, which is in the vein of classic W.A.S.P but with a lot of power and heaviness with a great opening "Accept meets Glam Metal" riff. “Don’t Wanna Die” is another great track about life issues in the same vein as W.A.S.P.’s themes from all their releases. “Crying Eagle” creates the atmosphere of riding on an eagle through distant lands with crushing heavy riffs and amazing vocals. “Unnatural High” is partly W.A.S.P. oriented but much heavier with piano verses. Its structure pretty much resembles “Crying Eagle”. The best track of the album, “Shoot To Kill”, is an absolute gem and a classic with a heavy opening, bass ruled verse and one of the greatest choruses, a'la 80’s W.A.S.P. The last track, “L.U.S.T”, no it’s not “L.O.V.E. Machine”, but it discusses almost the same theme, is a nice closer that cuts a path and leaves an appetite for more.

Randy Piper continues, by Animal, some of W.A.S.P.'s older tradition but with his share of ability and experience. Animal takes on the Heavy Metal approach and brings back the classic era when many youths were influenced by Heavy Metal and in glory was for everyone. Virus is an example of a great work by a man of great talent – “Shoot To Kill”!!