Released: 2004, Noise / Sanctuary
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Are there possibly some Heavy Metal fans out there who could honestly claim that they haven´t anxiously waited for a new W.A.S.P. album titled THE NEON GOD: Part 1. – THE RISE coming out any of these days (well, it´s out already)? I think there simply cannot be. Blackie Lawless´ W.A.S.P. is one of those that I was listening to when I was kid. I have a lot to thank for W.A.S.P. for dragging me deeper into a fascinating world of Heavy Metal back in the day when I was younger, kind of knowing that a great Heavy Metal band like W.A.S.P. was/is, it was something that was especially designed for me in order to fulfill my personal musical demands.
W.A.S.P. previous album DYING FOR THE WORLD was a very good album in such many ways, reminding me of why I fell in love with this band in the ´80s in the first place. The band´s new album, THE NEON GOD – and its first part for it precisely, makes no exception either. THE NEON GOD: PART 1. is a concept album from where the story continues to the PART 2. later this year, but let´s concentrate on this 1st part first.
As for the story on this 1st part shortly, it tells a story of a young orphan boy who is abandoned by his parents and who eventually was sent to children´s home where he´s abused by Sister Sadie. At some point this poor boy finds a way to start manipulating people and eventually he even manages to get some followers around him. This boy thinks or realizes that he´s some sort of a prince of darkness and that´s what the story is all about here kind of in a nutshell.
The album starts off with an instrumental track “Overture” which contains various rhythm – and tempo changes, melodies and feels that vary from mellow atmospheres to some meaner atmospheres, being a surprisingly epic-sounding tune all in all. A great start for the album in my opinion, working out some sort of a teaser for a listener, I think.
“Why Am I Here”; an acoustic guitar in the beginning and Blackie enters in, asking: “Why am I here?”. And I have an answer to his question. Blackie is here amongst us to do some create Heavy Metal music even if this may be a bit irrelevant yet stupid comment from me as far as the album´s story goes. But nevertheless, “Why Am I Here” is actually an intro for the next song on the album called “Wishing Well”, so let´s continue from there next.
“Wishing Well”, a somewhat catchy mid-tempo song with a keyboard background and in which bass tracks are immensely well present all the time equally with other instruments. A pretty cool song all in all and when Blackie opens his mouth, it´s really damn hard to not like his absolutely unique vocalism...
“Sister Sadie (and the Black Habits)” is next in turn – and every note, every nuance for some ear-friendly melody lines in it reaches my ears with an effortless ease. I really love the song as it reminds me of some vintage W.A.S.P. material from the past times in some peculiar way, too. I´m eagerly expecting this song to be a part of their live set on the tour as well as I´m sure people want to join sing along the song with Blackie because the last 2 minutes of it.
“The Rise” has sort of an epic beginning from where it starts growing a little by little and ending nearly as soon as it got started, reaching almost 2 and a half minute mark. I don´t know whether it can be even considered as a real song or anything or just a prelude to the next song that´s called “Asylum #9”. Also, right after “The Rise” has ended, “Why Am I Nothing” steps into the story and does it job as a really beautifully sounding intro for “Asylum #9” as well.
In “Asylum #9” is again a really cool reminder of what W.A.S.P. can do best. Their sense for real catchy and memorable melodies and chorus parts is unbeatable in many ways. “Asylum #9” is definitely one of those songs I would like to hear them playing live off THE NEON GOD. It also has all those trademarks to be a classic vintage W.A.S.P. stuff and therefore it´s nearly impossible that there could be any true W.A.S.P. –fans who could possibly resist a growing greatness of this song in the first place. They just simply can´t...
“The Red Room of the Rising Sun” causes some mixed feelings in me. It´s a very mellow sounding tune all in all and seems to have lots of emotion in it, but it still lacks something and I don´t know yet what it is. So I leave it for now and give it another fair chance outside of this very review...
“What I´ll Never Find” is a strong and emotional ballad song about a dying man which nearly puts tears into my eyes. A heart-breaking W.A.S.P. song that is supposed to make you feel emotional and touched... And that´s exactly what it does. Brilliant song from start to finish, ´nuff said.
“Someone to Love Me” is a very emotional intro type of thing to “X.T.C. Riders” in which Blackie and co. are unleashed back for rocking again where these gentlemen unquestionable tend to be true aces at indeed. Again, this particular represents more of that vintage W.A.S.P. material out of their back catalogue, so one could hardy get disappointed when hearing the song in its all mind-sticking beauty.
“Me & the Devil” is a short, beautiful and almost chanting-like intro for the next “The Running Man”, having a very smoothly running rockin´ vibe in it and basically representing everything all that why I have been digging these uncompromising pioneers of US Heavy Metal for all these years, since 1984 to be more accurate when I saw them first time live here in Finland. Listening to W.A.S.P. always brings up some good memories not only about the band, but also from the past, me as being a teenager, growing my hair desperately and wanting to be something that some of my idols both past and present represented/represent both musically and visually as well. I wanted to be and become somebody that pretty much remained to be unattainable for me back then. Poor me...
“The Raging Storm” is a so-called ´Grande Finale´ of the first chapter of THE NEON GOD and out of all of these songs on THE NEON GOD, it naturally is more than a fitting closer song lyrically, but even musically, too with its relatively mellow, melancholic and sorrowful feel in it. I can already imagine easily an enormous sea of waving lighters when they welcome this song on a W.A.S.P. gig.
And the golden last words to sum up this résumé? Blackie has proved to be a real genius again; I mean, a hell of a song writer, lyric writer, story teller and multi-instrumentalist in this first part of THE NEON GOD – and now it feels like I cannot be patient enough to wait for a sequel to this very well made and ambitious epos. W.A.S.P. is one of those things that isn´t meant to be rusted... ever!