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My original plan was to celebrate my 100th review for the archives by writing my first 100% rating review. But although Skylark came close with their 2012 release – thus far it’s been a quiet start to the year – and nothing in my collection fits the bill. So it’s off to the other end of the scale for me; my first ever 1% review. And let me tell you – they're lucky to even get that.
The band in question is WASP. I’m a big fan from way back. Blackie Lawless is a man that has his moments (both very good and very bad) and I always make a point of being there when it happens. But he has two rather ridiculous Achilles’ Heels. One is his very often lazy writing that sees the same damn hooks turn up again and again. But the antidote here is that there’s always just enough fresh stuff to keep me coming back.
The second failing is a little less easy to justify. Once in every while, you see, Blackie can’t help talking about his dick, his bike or just how cool he is. What you’re about to walk into below is Blackie crapping on about all of the above whilst stoned and drooling and stopping only long enough to vomit into the nearest bucket.
So the album is called ‘Helldorado’. Now that does work. I can still remember getting excited the first time I heard it. It just fit the band and the man himself perfectly. And the album cover wasn’t half bad either. The hologram cover edition was the goods too. But then I flipped the thing over and checked out the song titles. It was pretty much downhill all the way after that.
No need to waste breathe on a track-by-track roll call to zero in on this abortion of a release. I’ve already hinted at Blackie’s propensity for sounding the same from time to time, but i’ve also made it clear that there’s always just enough aces up his sleeve. But on this occasion, everything DOES sound EXACTLY the same. Period. Which is actually kind of appropriate because everything on this album also sounds like a band that has turned sounding the same into an art form. Yep, you guessed it – there’s lots of AC/DC worship on this piece of garbage. Do I really need to say anymore?
On the lyrical front Blackie should be taken out and shot. Apparently he’s on the record as getting back to his roots on this album. Yeah well as dumb as the lyrics were way back when, things never get as moronic as “Dirty Balls”. You can pretty much guess what that one’s about. Likewise, “Don’t Cry (Just Suck)”. Imagine that kind of subject matter matched to Angus Young style riffing. Oh brother.
Here and there Blackie also takes the opportunity to dip into talk about getting high. It never, ever works and is always the weakest link on all his stuff. Here it’s phoned in and reverse charged by a band asleep at the wheel. Fortunately they woke up just in time to ensure their next release was one of their best ever – and have since risen like a sleeping giant with every release after that. That’s the WASP I’m loud and proud about.
Every band makes mistakes. But everything from a fresh direction to line-up changes to a flawed vision can be traced back as the reason. But absolutely no reason or excuse is acceptable for something this atrocious. It’s just plain stupid.
You know the main riff to Enter Sandman? I hope you like it, because 5 of the 9 songs on this CD feature it.
This album satiates my desire for straightforward, uncomplicated metal music every time I hear it. Nobody overlooks the AC/DC influence on this release, as it is blatantly obvious. Though beware, as the repetition in the rhythm department is likely to grate on the nerves of most listeners; I kid you not when I say the aforementioned Metallica riff is prominently utilized in over half of the numbers on here. It may be increased or decreased in volume, sped up or slowed down in tempo, have an extra note added or subtracted, but it’s still there and it still repeats itself at least several dozen times before the track ends. The general idea for that riff is as old as dirt, and I am positive I’ve heard it before Enter Sandman, so I see no need for accusations of plagiarism, however.
Once you get past the simple music, it must then be accepted that the lyrics are intentionally crude; you can’t persuade me that the guy who wrote the words to ballads like “Forever Free” slipped up this badly. You don’t accidentally write lyrics about how nasty your testicles smell, or how cool it was watching a cheap whore fellate her pet dog, then look at them and say, “Oh dear, these lyrics have not come out as profoundly as I anticipated.” It’s arguably disingenuous how a smart man like Blackie dumbs himself down to make himself seem like a party-monster, especially when everyone knows he’s more of an intellectual, long given up drinking and promiscuity. I think what barely keeps this album honest is that Blackie did once live this lifestyle, and the release is intended to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
What good does this album have to offer? The answer is vocal hooks. This is catchy, 80’s inspired heavy metal. The difference is that it is rough, like what Motley Crue would sound like if they were forced to record in a garage. Actually, Blackie attempted to make this album sound similar to the old W.A.S.P. demos before the labels touched them up in the studios with clean production and harmonized vocals for the full-lengths. He succeeded in his endeavor, no question.
“Helldorado/Hot Rods to Hell,” “Don’t Cry (Just Suck)” “Dirty Balls,” “Can’t Die Tonight”: all of the preceding are great, commercial songs with noncommercial production and attitude. The lyrics aren’t very radio-friendly either, but they are relatively difficult to decipher compared to other W.A.S.P. records. Don’t expect a masterpiece because a handful of these tracks are above-average hard rockers that aren’t quite at the level of superb, but there isn’t a single outright failure on here.
After the rather controversial (at least for the fanbase) 97 release "Kill Fuck Die" and the excellent 98 "Double Live Assassins" - Lawless more or less promised everyone that with this one - he'd go straight back to the roots of Wasp - which didn't turn out as spectacular as perhaps many a fan had hoped for.
Image wise the band more or less succeeds to go back straight back to the days of songs like "Animal" or "Blind In Texas", gone are the thoughtfull and personal lyrics of albums like "Crimson Idol" and "Headless Cross", gone are the pure hatred and frustration of "Kill Fuck Die", instead we are blessed with songs like "Don't Cry Just Suck" or "Saturday Night Cockfight".
Musically it seems that Blackie listened just a bit too much Ac/Dc during the songwriting process - with most songs being rather simple rockers. However, even though certain parts of the album seem rather faceless and bland there still is some enjoyment to be had in the form of "Helldorado" (and it's reprise "Hotrods To Hell"), "Damnation Angels", "High On The Flames" and "Cocain Cowboys" - songs which all in all are not bad and are blessed with a simple, raw production (in contrary to "Kill Fuck Die" - which seemed to be far too experimental for most of the old-school fans).
Certainly not a bad release - although not Blackie's most inspiring album either...
This album plain and simple is a mess, especially for W.A.S.P. a band that should do more and has the ability to do so. This is the first bump in the road for W.A.S.P. as this was the first studio album I can actually call "bad". All the albums up to this one ranged from "Hey, that's pretty good" to "HOLY CRAP!!! PLAY THAT AGAIN!!!" but unfortunately Blackie's "return to the roots" as he put it is just terrible.
Blackie's idea of returning W.A.S.P.'s roots is to go back to the demo days before the band recorded the first album, now I never heard the demos the band made but I can assume from this album that not only did the band suck at that time they were intent on being an AC/DC clone, which is where this album goes to hell (pun intended). The album, much like all AC/DC albums, is a mix of three cord rock songs where, if you wanted, you could take the vocals from one song and put them on another and nobody would know the difference. The bottom line is that there is no identity to any of these songs, they just go by and you don't remember them and it just sounds like one long song with a couple varied tempos. I've listened to this album maybe a hundred times and when the album is over I still can't recall what specific songs sound like.
I can't believe someone that released albums like "The Headless Children", "The Crimson Idol", and "Kill Fuck Die" could release a piece of shit like this. Although despite the album's all out crapfest I do find myself putting it on every once in a while to listen to a couple songs, mainly "Don't Cry (Just Suck)" and "Damnation Angels". And if you deny the obvious AC/DC influence just listen to "Damnation Angels" and you'll see what I'm getting at.
This album isn't good, so unless you are of the absolute hardcore W.A.S.P. audience (i.e you buy and love everything the band has or will put out) you should stay clear of this album...that is unless you want an AC/DC album ;).