November 26, 2009

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WASP, Babylon
Demolition Records [import], Oct. 27

One thing you have to admit about old ’80s-metal bands: at least they put the names of their band members on their CD inserts. Past that, you don’t have to admit anything about old ’80s-metal bands, even the deep dark secret that there’s this one ’80s metal band that you like, as in really like. And nobody ever admits that, either, like that one nagging weirdo fantasy you hide from the world and would, yes, seriously regret revealing.

Would that I were in your shoes and didn’t have humiliating confession as a panic switch to flip and make deadlines loom less large: be it known that Blackie Lawless is God, of ’80s metal anyway. The WASP leader did a short stint with New York Dolls, the lo-fi punk-pop songwriting machine that existed before there was punk-pop or even punk, and his band — even now, with Blackie’s voice a shredded old Quiet Riot mess and no one of their target age-demographic aware the band even existed — had more theatrics, street-wiseacre ’70s-Chevelle testosterone hookage and New Yawk tude, pound for pound, than a hundred Wingers or Poisons. Same stuff, different millennium here: the urgent, storm-riding banshee rockout as album kickoff (“Crazy”), the righteous riff-rocker on its heels (“Live To Die Another Day”) and the knuckleball that justifies Blackie’s permanent smirk (the Elvis-drenched “Promised Land”). And the solos rule. And I shall now hide forever. AEWS