Released: 2015, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Why is it now that in any given W.A.S.P. tune, Blackie Lawless always sounds like he’s going to start crying at any given moment? The classic warble used to send shivers down your spine, now it sounds like poor guy is just having a really bad day and needs a hug. Maybe it's atonement for years of chauvinistic debauchery, maybe it’s early onset male menopause, maybe it’s the last remaining shtick of an artist whose grown tired of his own legacy. In any event, GOLGOTHA is studio album number fifteen to bear the W.A.S.P. logo upon its cover. And much like the last several albums to precede it, GOLGOTHA is full of unintentional sappy melodrama, dad rock anthems, and a Chris Holmes sized dose of pretension.
Album opener “Scream” is basically a re-arranged version of “Crazy” from 2009’s BABYLON, right down to the vocal phrasing around the chorus. Maybe in the six years since that album came out, Blackie forgot that he already wrote that song, but for better or worse, it’s still the best cut on the album. The album’s first single “The Last Runaway” follows, and sounds like the kind of generic open road anthem that a younger Blackie would’ve railed against once upon a time. “Shotgun” is a forgettable, but not unenjoyable rocker, while “Miss You” makes an attempt at heartfelt balladry, but is so overbearing in its execution that any legitimate emotion that it conjures is quickly squandered. “Slaves of the New World Order” is the closest the album comes to matching the fire from the band’s heyday, with some stellar guitar work and welcomed intensity. The closing trifecta “Eyes of My Maker”, “Hero of the World” and the title track all make an attempt to recreate the kind of epic presentation that seemed so effortless on even later classics like “The Great Misconceptions of Me” or “The Horror”, but at this point, it all comes across as formulaic, predictable and self-important. Queue the organs, the escalating crescendo, the vocal rattle - we've been down this path before.
Let’s not even discuss the album cover. Was this done in Microsoft Paint?
There was a time when I worshipped at the altar of W.A.S.P., a time when this band could do no wrong. But even I had to eventually concede that Blackie has been making the same album since HELLDORADO (and even that was an attempt to recapture the Sunset Strip days), and the quality has been increasingly questionable as the man continues to operate in a creative vacuum. GOLGOTHA sounds like BABYLON which sounds like DOMINATOR which sounds like...you get it. The reality is that GOLGOTHA is the vehicle that will allow W.A.S.P. to continue to mull the European circuit for another year, as fans flock to hear “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “Blind in Texas” - content to indulge one or two songs from the current decade amidst a set of 80’s hits. For that, I can’t begrudge Blackie for playing it safe with a new album. But as a fan who was there from the old days - who wore out a VHS copy of Videos…In the Raw and who pre-internet stalked his local record shop for ages to find an import “F@#k Like a Beast” 12”, GOLGOTHA is yet another mediocre W.A.S.P. album in a succession of mediocre W.A.S.P. albums.