W.A.S.P. - Helldorado review
01. Drive By
03. Don't Cry (Just Suck)
04. Damnation Angels
05. Dirty Balls
06. High On The Flames
07. Cocaine Cowboys
08. Can't Die Tonight
09. Saturday Night Cockfight
10. Hot Rods To Hell (Helldorado Reprise)
At this stage in the game, it was readily apparent what Blackie Lawless was capable of. Even in his hairiest days, he and W.A.S.P. could still pump out surprisingly dark tracks like "Widowmaker" and "Hellion" that would send your average Dokken or Def Leppard running for the hills. After the release of The Crimson Idol, one of the greatest metal albums ever recorded, Helldorado seems like blasphemy in comparison. This excruciating exercise in mediocrity seems to have escaped from Poison's "rejected" pile.
"Helldorado," the first real song, is actually halfway decent. Despite beginning with Generic Riff #16A (which you may remember from such songs as AC/DC's "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be"), it contains that all-important spark of rebellious energy. Yes, it is stupid and means nothing, but it is the kind of stupid that everyone likes to indulge in every now and then. The album plummets in quality once the second song starts. After five seconds, you may notice something familiar - why, it's our old friend, the… the exact same opening riff from the last song. What? That's right, I had to replay the first few seconds of each song multiple times to be sure, but Blackie just recycled a riff like a granola-munching hybrid jockey recycles an empty soy milk bottle. I wish I could say it gets better.
The first time I listened to this album, I got about as far as "Dirty Balls" before I left in disgust; next time, I made it to "Cocaine Cowboys." It was several tries before I made it all the way through. Most of Helldorado is Blackie Lawless just shouting "Aaaaayyyyyy!!!!" or "Ooooohhhh!!!!" as if he knows his lyrics are reprehensibly juvenile and is trying to disguise them with indistinctive yells. On its own merits, this album is bargain bin material; it's good for throwing at a hated enemy, or perhaps using as a coaster. The one small detail that makes this album an almost unforgivable offense is that this is no ordinary band; this is W.A.S.P.. W.A.S.P. doesn't write this dreck; W.A.S.P. blows our minds (and our speakers) with "The Great Misconceptions of Me" and "The Headless Children"!
Helldorado suffers on many levels. First and foremost, the songwriting is simplified and stripped-down to the point where it seems to be feeding off itself with fairly discouraging results. Secondly, the lineup had changed drastically prior to recording. Bob Kulick and Frankie Banali, a powerhouse duo whose brilliant chops had graced several previous albums, left to pursue other projects. Chris Holmes rejoined in Kulick's stead, and while he arguably had a right to as a founding member, the W.A.S.P. he had rejoined was very different from the W.A.S.P. he had left in 1990. Finally, it is painfully obvious that Blackie's heart is not in this at all. As he wrote numbskull anthems like "Can't Die Tonight," somewhere in the back of his mind Jonathan Steele must have been punching trains out of shame.
This baby'll go from zero to nothing in six seconds flat. It sounds like it was written by a bunch of headless children.
|What an unlucky album "Kill, Fuck, Die" was. Not only did it lack well deserved praise, but the fan backlash to the band's experimentation made an all too eager to please Blackie Lawless reverse his creative direction way back to the band's roots, saying that Helldorado will sound exactly like the band's demos - and incidentally, it does. And even though "The Last Command" and "Winged Assassins" had their moments, in retrospect the band had already topped those albums by far at least twice. "Helldorado", however, had none of the energy and enthusiasm of the band's early days and after a series of albums with mature content, not even the die-hard fans of the early bloody stage show responded happily to an album about booze, sex and drugs. It's not the at times admittedly horrible lyrics (if you care all that much about the lyrics, read a book) - it's the simplicity and stupidity of the songs' topics that transforms into simple music.
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