W.A.S.P. – The Neon God: Part 1 – The Rise


Sanctuary Records
Release Date: April 6, 2004

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Blackie Lawless’ attempt to survive the grunge movement was to release the rock-opera The Crimson Idol in 1992. It was a stroke of luck, and the album continues to stand out like a pole in the history of W.A.S.P. Subsequently, all went dark, and the albums Still Not Black Enough in 1995, and Chris Holmes’ return to the horrible Kill Fuck Die in 1997, were easily forgotten.

So what has Mr. Lawless been up to during the last couple of years? Keeping himself pretty busy, that I can tell you! But quantity has outweighed quality, in most cases, with rock ‘n’ roll-albums like Helldorado in 1999 and Unholy Terror in 2001. Then tragedy struck at the New York City Twin Towers, and Lawless response to that was to release Dying For The World in 2002.

This year, Blackie Lawless is back on the great art wagon of creating concept albums. Typically not a critical favorite, and basically few acts release concept albums nowadays. Dio did four years ago, with Magica, and he succeeded in recapturing the original Dio-sound, which was completely lost on Strange Highways and Angry Machines.

With The Neon God, Blackie Lawless is basically copying himself, as well as others. The similarity to The Crimson Idol is very apparent. Has Blackie Lawless ever surprised you? You usually know just what you’re gonna get, and the only surprise he has ever pulled was, in fact, to release that rock-opera in 1992. And when hearing about this forthcoming concept-album by W.A.S.P., everyone figured it was Crimson-time all over again.

This time around, though, the band, and especially guitar player Darrell Roberts, puts forth a tremendous effort. Take a listen to “What I’ll Never Find,” and experience a great guitar solo that Chris Holmes never would have pulled off. The main man, Blackie Lawless, hasn’t changed at all. On the positive side, his voice sounds as it did 20 years ago when he first became known. Negatively, however, he repeats himself often, and you can’t really say that his songwriting skills have moved anywhere in the last 15 years. For example, “Wishing Well” is essentially a new “The Real Me,” and “The Red Room Of The Rising Sun” is very similar to “Tomorrow Never Dies” by The Beatles at certain times.

But surely enough, Blackie has put a lot of effort in this release. Prior efforts, The Headless Children and The Crimson Idol are the releases in the W.A.S.P. catalogue that show the most tangible effort, and The Neon God’s first chapter is going in to be in that category as well. This is not your typical 10-song, 40-minute rocker … nope; it’s definitely so much more than that!

So where does that leave us? The Neon God is a wise decision by Lawless, because anything else would have easily been classified as “just another W.A.S.P. release.” The first European Tour since 1999 is undoubtedly going to increase the interest in that part of the world, a territory that also welcomed The Crimson Idol with open arms 12 years ago.

Will Lawless pull it off? Hopefully. His concerts are normally filled with all those oldies but goldies, but he might choose to play more from The Neon God for purposes of further promoting the album. In the end, I guess people are going to get what they came to see. There is a second chapter to The Neon God in the pipeline, and it is scheduled to be released late in the summer, which will constitute the busiest year ever in the history of Blackie and his band W.A.S.P.


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