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Funny thing about sophomore albums. They tend to go either way, either being that great record that does acrobatic flips over the previous work, or, in the case of WASP's "The Last Command", has a hard time touching that no-holds-barred greatness on the freshman outing. That being said, "The Last Command" is certainly no bad album, no far from it. It just lacks a little of this and little of that that made the debut so wildly entertaining. The attitude is there, but the group feels more restrained in delivery. There's some solid hooks, good (if not better) riffage, and a few nice choruses to boot, but overall "The Last Command" is more lacking and pedestrian than its predecessor.
The group still remains strong in their performances, if not a bit more improved in overall technicality. Blackie Lawless's bass is still barely audible, but that's not why we (mostly) love Blackie, eh? He still rips it up with his scorching, quasi-hoarse yells and bellows, and the world of rock is all the better for it. What kills me though is that he seems more restrained this time around, as opposed to the "fuck/kill/drink everything in way" attitude he had on the debut. A major improvement is marked with the guitar work of Chris Holmes, who was already pretty damn good on the debut album. Here his solos are serious scorchers, longer and more intricate, while his taste for riffage has tightened as well. Randy Piper returns to work the rhythm guitar, sounding a bit stronger himself. He's also mixed a bit higher this time around, which is good because the dark, tense tone of his guitar is one of my favorite aspects of this record. Steve Riley replaces Tony Richards on the kit, but frankly you wouldn't know, as they both give the same dependable but standard drum work on both records, though Riley throws a few good rolls and fills around more often.
One of the things that made the WASP debut so palpable was the delectable variety of songs, and despite the more restrained atmosphere, the same is still true here. But unlike the debut, which had an entire album of songs that totally fucking rocked, "The Last Command" puts up a few lesser numbers, and even some downright clunkers. Case in point, the ballad "Cries In The Night"; it's a pretty standard and uninteresting song, totally lacking that mood and, again, attitude that made something like "Sleeping (In The Fire)" so strong. Then a number of other songs just come and go, not bad but pretty forgettable. Would-be mid-paced chugger "Jack Action", the guitar-strong but average title track, and failed arena rocker "Fistful of Diamonds", complete with a big ol' chorus, are all just missing, and I mean JUST missing, those fun, maniac riffs and choruses that made numbers like "On Your Knees" or "Fuck Like A Beast" so untamed and memorable.
It's not all bad though, as there are still a fair number of good tracks to go around. The opener, live favorite "Wild Child", is a neat and moody mid-paced rocker that has a cool mix of ballady and more heavy-duty metal moments, as well as some guitar melodies that remind one of a later band called Gun 'N' Roses. Another live favorite can be found in the beer-worshiping anthem, "Blind In Texas"; this a damn fun song, with loads of energy, fun lyrics and great riffage thrown around. "Widowmaker" is kinda interesting, a boiling, atmospheric number with intriguing apocalyptic lyrics, even if they don't totally make sense ("the lord of the wings"? What?!). I'd say the two tracks which harken back to the work on the first album would be "Ballcrusher" and "Sex Drive", pair of aggressive, pounding sex speeders that'll pound your cock into dust!
Overall, "The Last Command" is a good enough metal album, but it comes up short. The bandmates are arguably better but restrain their attitude, making the songs less in your face and fun. Most of the songs themselves are pretty passable, if not particularly memorable. Some of the tracks I mentioned are quite worthwhile, and while I do recommend "The Last Command" I only recommend it lightly. Don't expect a buzzsaw face-fucking like the first time around, and maybe you'll like it more than me.