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If at no point while listening to "NG I" the words "secondary" and "derivative" cross your mind, you and I aren't listening to the same album. Let's start at the title. Can you imagine Iron Maiden naming their album "Murderers"? What about Judas Priest and "English Metal"? Or Metallica and "Lord Of Dolls"? Does anybody else think that, with the title like "Crimson Idol" in your catalog, naming your album "Neon God" is not a good idea? Why didn't Blackie just name it "Crimson Idol, Part II" and save us all a lot of irritation (and the title is just one of the multiple reasons for the "TCI" reference, as I am going to demonstrate)? On to the cover art: please, take a look at
This is just striking: we're not talking "similar," we're talking "cut-and-paste"!
On to the music: is it just me or their last albums, song after song after song, sound completely identical? Some are still better ("Unholy Terror"), some are worse ("DFTW"), but overall this is simply getting increasingly stale. Frankie Banali is an awesome drummer, but he is criminally underused here, and his patterns in "TCI," "UT," "DFTW," and "NG I" sound absolutely identical! This album is trying hard to be "The Crimson Idol," and Blackie turns inside out in his attempt to re-create the 1991 work that brought him enormous critical acclaim. So he writes a nearly identical story: abused kid, discovers a talent, rises to fame, abuses drugs, realizes his loneliness. And the songs themselves fit the bill, being nearly identical to those on the 1991 album. "Sister Sadie" is a rather poor stab at another "Chainsaw Charlie," an abundance of slow and "emotional" songs like "Why Am I Nothing" and "What I'll Never Find" match the plenty of slow and emotional songs on "TCI," like "The Idol," etc. There is also this sound, again, identical to the one on "TCI," as if all the technological improvements and production innovations of the 90s just didn't happen, but what sounded "epic" in 1991 feels rather pale now. So the result is quite expected: "Neon God, Part I" sounds totally derivative and forced. Yes, there are still some energetic numbers, like "Asylum #9" (which is similar in places to "Wicked Love" off of "KFD": listen to the "I give you life -- life!" part and compare to the "Wicked love! Wicked love!" chorus) and "X.T.C. Riders," but overall it's yet another step back in Blackie's rocky and uneven career. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad album, but the very premises is faulty for two reasons: one cannot enter the same water twice and, even if one does, it would not feel the same. Even had the original "TCI" been released now, it would not have made the same impact. Many current albums from current bands would simply outpower it, especially because "NG I" is seriously lacking might. Bands like Grave Digger, Angel Dust and Brainstorm all but blow W.A.S.P. out of the water with their sound and songwriting. Blackie, living in the States, is probably unfamiliar with the European metal scene, and does not know what can kick today's metal fan's ass.
One relatively fresh number on "NG I" is the concluding "Raging Storm": it's a rare (for WASP) mid-tempo churner, but its "Give me love!" chorus is, again, similar to "only love will set me free" from "The Great Misconceptions." Btw, I must mention pretty cool solos in "Riders" and "The Running Man": Darrell Roberts shines here. Overall, this is not a bad album, but if you are looking for something you haven't heard before from Blackie, seek elsewhere.