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Disturbed and unsettling, this is the soul of madman Blackie Lawless. Is he bi-polar? Who knows? All we can conclude is that he was having some sort of a breakdown when he wrote this, and he makes this quite clear in the liner notes. His previous album, “The Crimson Idol,” emotionally drained him and this album is what was left of his mind.
This is the lightest W.A.S.P. record in regards to musical aggressiveness, with the guitar being far too thin to be suitable for most metalheads. However, this release does not need to rely on heavy aesthetics to get its heaviness across; that comes naturally from the outpour of passion. Songs like “I Can’t,” where a grown man cries out the tale of his relationship with his recently deceased mother, really expose the human hiding behind the rock star.
Only Blackie would know what his romantic life was like at this time, but it seemed to have spawned two of the most beautiful love ballads I’ve heard. The first, “Keep Holding On,” is one that deals with depression after a breakup, while the second, “Breathe,” is simply about the ecstasy his woman brings him. They are polar opposites, and represent the volatile nature of this CD. The one thing they share in common is that they are unusually gentle for metal. Seriously, even glam bands don’t go this light; this is Elton John territory. Regardless, both are touching and showcase Blackie’s singing ability better than any other W.A.S.P. songs.
The weirdest aspect of this output is probably “Rock and Roll to Death,” which is 1950’s style metallic rock and roll which reminds me of Lemmy’s cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. It is completely unexpected in this introspective album, as is the excellent cover of “Somebody to Love.”
If you want to know the kind of nightmares that were running through Blackie’s brain during the mid 90’s, read the lyrics to the paranoid “Scared to Death.” If they interest you, then you should very much enjoy this album.