On October 2, 2015, W.A.S.P released their 15th Studio album “Golgotha.” The album was the band’s first release since their 2009 album “Babylon.” The six-year gap between records was the longest in the band’s career. The album peaked at number five on Billboard’s “Top Hard Rock Albums” and number nine on the “Top Independent Albums” charts.
In honour of “Golgotha’s” release here is my track-by-track review.
“Scream” is a great album opener and my favourite cut on the album. A pulsating opening riff that builds anticipation. If your heart rate is not raised after this one, check your pulse because you might already be dead. There are also some great lyrics in the song “here comes heart breaker taking your heart” and “You are gonna lie if you love me.” Give the lyric video on YouTube a watch, it is well worth your time.
“Runaway” is a great rock song that gives off some severe Bruce Springsteen vibes. The comparison in both song structure and vocal delivery are undeniable. I double-checked the album liner notes to make sure it was not a cover or co-written by “The Boss.” That speaks to how great of a songwriter Lawless is. The solos and fills give the song enough variation to keep it out of Ashbury Park, but it sounds a bit too “cheery” within the context of the rest of the record.
The tributes keep coming as the opening and ending of “Shotgun” drift heavily into AC/DC territory. I enjoy how Lawless writes these songs with a great blend of familiarity and just enough surprise to keep the listener entertained. It is a solid track with some great solo work, it just lacks the cohesiveness found on the other tracks on the record.
“Miss You” is one of the most emotionally intense songs I have heard. Lawless channels some serious pain in his vocal delivery and the lyrics are easily adaptable/relatable to most people who have experienced loss.
Aside from the soulful delivery of the vocals, the guitar work is exceptional on the solos from Doug Blair and is reflective of the song’s narrative.
While the song overstays its welcome a bit, make sure you have a box of tissues beside you.
“Fallen” is another striking song on the record. I think it would have been better placed further along in the album’s sequencing. I would have liked to have a faster tempo cut in its place after the journey “Miss You” took us on, but it is a good song, nonetheless.
Slaves of the New World
“Slaves” is one of the more complex cuts on the album. There are plenty of great riffs, tempo changes and searing solos to keep the eight-minute run time palatable. The breakdown in the middle of the song is one of the most powerful on the record and the solo that follows is a scorcher.
Eyes of my Maker
Drummer Michael Dupke shines on “Eyes,” and he provides a strong, and steady beat, that keeps everything together. Some haunting, shimmering guitars give way to the stomping beat that carries the rest of the track.
Hero of the World
On “World” Lawless walks a fine line between cheesy and brilliant, with lines like “superman from a foreign land” and “messiah man with a better plan” pushing it into the latter. If you ignore certain passages of the lyrics, we are left with another stellar track.
Some poignant acoustic work primes us for the rest of the song which quickly descends into a steady chaotic feel.
The album’s title track closes things out, with another near eight-minute opus. The challenge with having three long songs on an album is creating and holding the listener’s attention long enough to get through them all. I find lyrically “Golgotha” to be the best on the album, musically I find it to be the weakest of the long songs. Blair’s solo work provides the boost the track needs to keep it from drifting towards being repetitive. I feel the band could have trimmed a couple of minutes off the run time.
“Golgotha” is a fantastic metal record. Lawless and company crafted emotionally weighted songs and it feels as though Lawless brings the listener along for the ride as he began a new chapter in his life.
While just a couple of tracks feel slightly out of place (Last Runaway, Shotgun), overall, the album belongs near the top of W.A.S.P.’s best releases. The band took their classic metal sound from the 80s, added some new elements and lyrical themes and pushed themselves into a new era. Kudos to Logan Mader (Machine Head, Soulfly) who mixed the album to near perfection.