Non-stereotypical heavy metal with neoclassical overtones. Blackie Lawless is a talented musician and songwriter, and manages to pull of this Rock Opera (chronicling the rise and fall of a rock star) rather convincingly. The Titanic Overture is one of the coolest tunes I've heard in Heavy Metal history.
From my perspective, heavy metal in the traditional/neo-classical/progressive vein appears to be making a major comeback, and I can't think of a better band to be at the forefront than W.A.S.P. It's somewhat unfair to call this a W.A.S.P release---it is Blackie Lawless who's doing most of songwriting and the performing. The album continues in the tradition of The Crimson Idol, but is less conceptual, even though there are some common musical and lyrical threads that run throughout the album. The version of Jefferson Airplane's Somebody to Love is quite good, as are the two other covers, Queen's Tie Your Mother Down and AC/DC's Whole Lotta Rosie (the latter two are among three of bonus tracks found only in the U.S. release). Both those songs fit in well with the rest of the album, which, to summarise, is fast and ferocious metal. I can't wait for the new album with Lawless and Chris Holmes coming out next year!
The album starts of promisingly with thick doomy guitar riffs and thundering drums. Then Blackie Lawless' voice blazes in, powerful, energetic and frenzied, with a range that would give Grace Slick a run for her money. The music is fast, the leads are soaring, and the drumming is constantly evolving. As a listener, you have to play catch up the rest of the album. In the PR info I got, Lawless says that Chris Holmes is "the single most angry man" he has ever met. That anger is clearly apparent in the guitar work. Holmes single-handedly manages the guitar work in an incredible fashion, strongly complementing Stet Howland's drumming and Mike Duda's bass work. There is an emphasis on extreme here, and groups like Marilyn Manson are really reduced to pathetic imitiations when you think of some of the outrageous things W.A.S.P. have done. I never really got into displays of outrageousness that were done purely to shock. However, what I liked about many metal acts of the past, including W.A.S.P. today, is that regardless of whether they were shocking or not, their music was incredibly powerful and moving. And that's what really appeals to me in this release: the rawness and aggressiveness in the songwriting, music, and the production. K.F.D. is one of the freshest heavy metal albums I've heard in years and has already earned the place a metal classic in my collection.
For those of you who have ever seen W.A.S.P. in concert and enjoyed the show, this is a must-have compilation. The two disc album contains live shows from their latest Kill Fuck Die tour. The song list on the first CD is arranged pretty much the same way the concert occurred, starting with the medley of On Your Knees, I Don't Need No Doctor, Hellion, and Chainsaw Charlie. This is a great compilation illustrating exactly what a great, but underrated band, W.A.S.P. is. Part of this is probably due to their stage antics, but as this album shows, there's more to the band than bad makeup and pig slaughtering.
The new W.A.S.P. album, Helldorado, is certainly raw and aggressive but I lament the loss of the classical feel that was present in releases like The Crimson Idol and Still Not Black Enough. Obviously this reflects a happier Blackie Lawless, and W.A.S.P., and this is a good thing, but in their own words, the symphonic sound in the aforementioned albums has been reduced to "in-your-fucking-face, two guitar, bass and drums, 3 chord rock." In other words, "this is not a thinking man's record." The lyrics don't do much for me either. That said, the album is a lot of fun and the lead guitar work by Chris Holmes is excellent. There are certainly enough interesting things going on in the background in the music to make a thinking person (read: music snob) like me listen to the release and rock to it. This marks a return of W.A.S.P. to their old Animal days and I recommend checking this out if that aspect of the band is what appeals to you! It is amusing in its own way. As Lawless says: "I will tell you this, it's the kind of record that when people hear it, the only thing that's gonna happen is you'll see a big, broad grin on their faces!"