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Heavy metal can only get so heavy. After a certain point, there is nowhere to go but to incorporate influences from outside genres like hardcore punk in order to make things sound more intense. W.A.S.P. pushes the border on “Unholy Terror” of how heavy heavy metal really can be. The power manifested within is driven by vicious melodies, and thundering thick guitar chords.
I’ve listened to the opener song “Let it Roar” numerous times, and on each occasion I was passionately swept off my boots by the unrelenting assault. Muscles in my legs have quivered and collapsed, involuntary laughter not from humor but from sheer ecstasy have spouted from mouth, and my entire nervous system has convulsed and pulsated throughout my flesh. The lyrics describe the same feeling that they give: “You’re gonna feel like Superman!” I do, except no pathetic kryptonite can stand in my way.
The album is the most extreme disc in W.A.S.P.’s catalogue, and the following two songs follow in the opener’s footsteps. “Unholy Terror”/”Charisma” is one song divided into two tracks with a profound lyrical theme: Human beings are naturally inclined toward figures who are charismatic rather than those who truly have to offer what is best. It might not be perfect poetry, but it does make you think.
Another highlight is the ballad “Evermore,” which is a cryptic sequel to the masterpiece from The Headless Children called “Forever Free.” As usual, the original is superior to the sequel but this song does justice to the first. The lyrics are very esoteric and difficult to decipher the theme of, and so I know that the tears in the back of my eye are from pure musical genius, not simply a pretty poem.
There are only a few flaws present here that are generally minor. Blackie’s riff on “Raven Heart” is a bit of a rip-off of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.” It’s changed a little, but not enough for me to not be critical of it. Possible plagiarism (or perhaps a friendly artistic allusion, I hope) aside, it is an excellently constructed heavy metal song that makes you throw trembling horns. I’m also not the hugest fan in the world of that little instrumental in the second half of the album, which is not a distraction but rather an unnecessary break from the adrenaline rush.
Just when you think this album was ending, you get a multi-minute-long exiting guitar solo to finish off the closer, “Wasted white Boys.” Mean Man Holmes is back!
Get this CD if you want to hear the sound of lightning. Blackie might have had some softer, gentler tones to his voice in prior albums that were more relaxing to hear, but this was never mean to be a relaxing album. Hear him scream.
Everyone knows there are two WASPs. One is the F.T.W. metal machine where everything sounds suspiciously similar with everyone too drunk to notice. The other WASP is the tell-it-like-it-is angry man of heavy metal platform for one Mr. Blackie Lawless. Truth be told things still sound suspiciously similar, but at least it’s metal with a cause.
‘Unholy Terror’ is the first studio album since ‘Helldorado’. And just in time too. Because about the only thing ‘Helldorado’ did manage to pull off was a practical joke Blackie must have been playing on himself. If the song titles don’t tell you what to expect, then take careful note of the AC/DC influenced riffing. I don’t care what you say about AC/DC, I’ve had more shivers up and down my spine brushing my teeth. As I write this they’re album sales have topped the hundreds and millions. That’s great.
“Let It Roar” and “Hate To Love Me” are self conscious to the point of caricature. It’s Blackie Lawless desperate to remind you that his name is Blackie Lawless. He’s asking you to think about those two words. Ok Blackie, I have – now what? The point is I don’t care what trademark attitude a band brings to the table. Just make sure the hooks are there to back it up. And this time they are. Enough said.
“Loco-Motive Man” is a classic. It’s smart. It’s deep. It’s catchy, and it matters. It paints a picture of youth gone wild in an age where wild means a gun – and a victim is anyone in range. Blackie rips up the scapegoat reports and social analysis and reduces it to human failings. This is a song that burns with anger and hope in the same breath.
“Unholy Terror” and “Charisma” are really two parts of the same song with the one common melody. You get a catalogue of evil through history set to a calculated tune that works like a swinging watch out to hypnotize you. The end final result is a symphonic portrait of the evil that men do. Blackie seems to be saying there’s no use looking away because it’s more of the same wherever you look. He’s right.
“Who Slayed Baby Jane?” is vintage WASP in the mood for horror theatrics. This one’s fake blood and bad special effects good. And it helps that it sounds like a sped up lullaby. Whereas (according to Blackie) it helps if you’re high when listening to the next track. It’s called “Euphoria” and he thinks the absolute world of it. It’s boring. “Raven Heart” is the exact opposite and damn well catches you off guard just when the album was starting to trail off. Gothic words and a hauntingly dark melody that blindly rushes in keep this one on the radar until further notice.
After that it’s two six minute plus songs that turn up, say something and go home. Not bad, just not great. One’s about reincarnation, and the other’s about getting wasted. Blackie’s an authority on both. I’ll take his word for it, but like I said – a guitar and a cause can change the world. That’s the address I prefer to visit Blackie at.
A huge improvement over the slightly-above-average "Helldorado". It seems that yet again, Wasp manages to redeem themselves and come up with an album which more or less signals a new breath of life for the band, because both this release and "Dying For The World" certainly rank amongst the bands better works.
Taking more of a "Headless Children" aproach to the lyrics this time around, and coupled with an excellent production, Lawless & Co. deliver an excellent and varied collection of songs. Highlights to be found on here are "Charisma", "Wasted White Boys" (excellent guitar work at the end !!), "Raven Heart" and "Let It Roar" although no song is really "weak". The tension is broken up a little with the ballad "Evermore" and the instrumental "Euphoria" (reminds a bit of Sabbath's "Planet Caravan").
Definitely an album worth getting, and a nice warm-up to their next studio release "Dying For The World", which is even better than this one...