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W.A.S.P.

The Neon God: Part One -- The Rise (Sanctuary)

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When cheesed-out hair metal bit the dust, spandexed Los Angelenos like Motley Crüe and Poison survived by refusing to take themselves too seriously. W.A.S.P. went the other way, issuing a string of self-indulgent concept albums that sounded like Stephen King rejects: The Headless Children, The Crimson Idol and so forth. A few faithful fans continued to give a shit, but the rest of the world moved on. But that hasn't kept W.A.S.P. from releasing its sixteenth full-length, The Neon God: Part One -- The Rise. Red flags abound. First, multipart albums are a sure sign that someone is feeling a little pretentious. In this case, that someone is Blackie Lawless, the only original member of a group composed of metallic never-beens such as Quiet Riot's old drummer and Tuff's former guitarist. Second, the W.A.S.P. Web site touts Neon as a "conceptual rock opera that explores the tragedy and consequences of one boy's search for acceptance and purpose in his existence." This from the buzz-saw-codpieced clowns who wrote "Fuck Like a Beast."Neon's opening instrumental track is supposed to set the stage for the grand musical statement to come, but everything sounds exactly like W.A.S.P.'s concept-free material. Songs with hilarious, Spinal Tap-ish titles such as "Red Room of the Rising Sun" and "Underature" have a fuzzy story line woven through them -- something about a child with superpowers who takes over the world -- but Blackie and company are merely up to typical shticks and tricks here. The world is probably not waiting for Part Two, which is scheduled for a summer release, but its predecessor certainly underscores W.A.S.P.'s inexplicable ability to endure in the face of its own bad ideas.

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