W.A.S.P. – Golgotha
Golgotha is the fifteenth studio album by American heavy metal band W.A.S.P… The album was released on October 2, 2015, through Napalm Records, and is W.A.S.P.’s first studio album since Babylon (2009), marking the longest gap between two studio albums in their career. Golgotha is also W.A.S.P.’s last studio album with drummer Mike Dupke, who left the band just prior to its release.
On Golgotha, W.A.S.P. stays true to the biblical horror stories they employed on Babylon (2009): the name-giving place of skulls is the hill Jesus Christ was crucified upon. Faithful Blackie Lawless fans had to wait for new material for six years – and this album was damn well worth the wait! Golgotha follows the path that was established with Babylon and Dominator and is soaring to new heights with highly melodic metal anthems that also feature balladesque moments. A timeless slab of music that proves once more how important W.A.S.P. are to our scene!
I hate to admit my age here, but I’ve been listening to W.A.S.P. since 1984 and I’m not going to stop anytime soon. One of America’s most underrated bands hands down!, I have enjoyed their highs and the lows of this band. While opinions vary, many fans believe that “Headless Children” and “Crimson Idol” are W.A.S.P’s best efforts to date. Personally, Headless Children is one of my favorite metal albums of all time, and Crimson Idol never ceases to move me every time I listen to it. From there, I love every effort they showed us as they experimented with different sounds, particularly with “Still Not Black Enough”, which is also another favorite of mine. While critics were rather harsh with “Helldorado,” I personally enjoyed it as well as it was a return to their raunchier, pre-“Headless Children” days. Dominator showed a return to their old school form and offered some of the best tracks they had produced in years. In particular, the epic track “Heaven’s Hung in Black,” which is another one of the best songs the band has ever made.
And now, finally, we have Golgotha, managing to achieve the same levels of grit and intensity as Headless and Idol. A new fan of the band would be hard-pressed to detect the 20 plus years gap between albums, and Blackie’s vocals are just as good today as they were then, which is really pretty rare for a vocalist with such a long career. Besides the vocals, the guitar work is absolutely phenomenal. Doug Blair’s guitar work is simply fantastic from start to finish, and it’s hard to choose which track offers the best guitar solo. I don’t think I could settle on just one track. Regardless which track(s) you prefer, let younger bands take note… this is how guitars are meant to be played in heavy metal music! Musically, Golgotha may be the band’s best effort to date and instantly earns its place alongside Headless and Idol in my opinion. Anyone who has ever loved those two albums really should add this one to their collection. Period. It’s that good, if not better. Besides the technical merits of the musicianship, it’s the authenticity of the heart and raw emotion behind the musicianship that makes Golgotha such an amazing listening experience. Blackie and crew will take their listeners on an emotional roller coaster ride over the duration of the entire album.
Which brings me to production quality, which is something we should be able to take for granted, but (sadly) cannot. It seems that audio quality increasingly diminishes in the music industry these days: more and more CD’s have flat, matted, poor sound quality. It seems to be the growing norm nowadays. So I feel it necessary to praise the production quality of a CD when it’s warranted. Golgotha’s audio quality is a top-notch and pristine, clear separation between vocals and instruments, and no instrument is drowned out or overpowered by another. Both rhythm and lead guitars receive equal emphasis, bass and keyboards are distinctive, cymbals sound as clear as glass. The CD sounds first-rate and I can only imagine how the vinyl must sound!
Golgotha does have some tracks that aren’t as immediate and two of those, ‘Slaves of the New World Order’ and ‘Hero of the World’ sound like they could have appeared on the concept album The Crimson Idol. ‘Slaves’ has some Maidenish bass and drums and another big hooky chorus while ‘Hero’ has a very strong vocal turn from Blackie, but the tunes just aren’t as memorable. I found ‘Eyes of My Maker’ a filler moment that doesn’t match up to the stronger tracks on the album. The title track and album closer ‘Golgotha’ is a seven-minute epic with lyrics about salvation, has Blackie been hit by the lightning bolt? The memorable chorus has Blackie intoning “Jesus, I need you now…Tell me where I’m going now…Am I going down?”, and the track ends with another stellar soloing turn from Doug Blair.
If any band within the metal and hard rock circles deserve the notoriety that icon status brings it would have to be W.A.S.P. The infamous ‘shock rock’ act founded by vocalist and guitarist Blackie Lawless came roaring out of the early eighties Los Angeles metal scene alongside Van Halen, Motley Crue, Dokken, Quiet Riot, and Ratt and has not looked back since. With 15 studio albums, 3 live albums and 3 compilations to its credit – that have combined to sell over 12 million copies worldwide – the group have established a four-decade legacy that remains to this day. Without a doubt, the W.A.S.P. form suggests consistency, hard work, and longevity- particulars it has delivered in spades.
The six-year gap between Golgotha and Babylon is the longest between albums in W.A.S.P.’s existence. There was a thirty-year anniversary tour in that time period, so Blackie wasn’t resting up. This is a triumphant return and includes some tracks that are sure to become staples in the live set for as long as Lawless deems it necessary to hit the stage. It’s quite an achievement lasting for such a long time given the era that W.A.S.P. was spawned from. Golgotha is a worthy addition to the back catalog and a definite confirmation that Blackie Lawless is a songwriter and performer deserving of better recognition. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another six years for another masterpiece by our beloved band, W.A.S.P.
Released: October 2, 2015
Label: Napalm Records
Producer: Blackie Lawless
Genre: Heavy Metal, Shock/Glam Rock
Website: Official Website
Discs: 1 disc
Reviewed by: Guest Reviewer
Our Rating: 4.8 /5
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