Short Cuts: W.A.S.P., Aerosmith, Death Dealer

CD Review: W.A.S.P. – Golgotha
Napalm Records
All Access Rating: B+

W.A.S.P. - Golgotha 2015
Few could have predicted that Blackie Lawless, of all people, would find religion ... again. Unthinkable in the '80s, when he was Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center's Public Enemy No. 1 for his outlandish, unsavory stage antics and lewd, violent lyrics, Lawless has, indeed, turned back to God for salvation. And the more recent output of W.A.S.P. has reflected the change, becoming less dangerous or carnal in the process and sounding cleaner and more idealistic as it leaves behind the furious bluster and viciousness of the band's malevolent past. Not all W.A.S.P. fans have welcomed the transformation, with many leaving the flock in droves after 2009's Babylon and its predecessor Dominator. The first W.A.S.P. album in six years, Golgotha – the skull-covered site of Jesus's crucifixion undoubtedly inspiring its creepy cover art – might draw some of them back, its ominous winds blowing strong melodies across desolate landscapes. It's easy to get swept up in the gathering momentum of high-flying, melody-filled metal anthems such as "Scream," "Last Runaway" and "Shotgun," even as Lawless comes off as some pale, trilling imitation of Meatloaf in this heady rush. Overtly Christian in many of its themes, as the earnest, slow-building title track dramatically pleads, "Jesus, I need you now," the occasionally bloody Golgotha finds Lawless in a vulnerable state, the desperate, emotional ballad "Miss You" – awash in melodrama – baring his feelings of utter helplessness and the darkly melodic "Fallen Under" appealing for protection against evil hordes. In stronger voice, Lawless urges on the galloping bravado of "Slaves of the New World Order," even as leaves himself more exposed than ever on Golgotha.

CD Review: Death Dealer  Hallowed Ground
Sweden Music Group
All Access Rating: A-

Death Dealer - Hallowed Ground 2015
Still looking to eradicate "false metal" from the face of the earth, ex-Manowar and Dictators guitarist Ross The Boss resurfaced in 2013 with Death Dealer and their raging debut album Warmaster. An all-out offensive of racing rhythms, blazing solos and gnarly riffs, Warmaster put Death Dealer on the metal map, earning the newly formed outfit a spot on the upcoming Motorhead Motorboat Cruise. The band's sophomore effort, Hallowed Ground, is all those things and more, another thrilling, white-knuckle ride of aggressive, slamming speed-metal and heavy punishers reminiscent of Painkiller-era Judas Priest. The earth-shaking production is assertive and vigorous, amplified for maximum impact in brutal bangers "K.I.L.L.," "The Anthem" and a screaming banshee called "Break The Silence." Killer hooks abound, hair-raising singer Sean Peck practically devours this material and Ross The Boss and Stu Marshall let it rip on searing leads and vigorous riffs, showing off a dizzying variety of chops on "Total Devastation." Pressing down on the accelerator, the thrashing "Plan Of Attack" goes 100 miles per hour and the spirited defiance of "I Am the Revolution" should galvanize the faithful, while "Seance" infuses mystery into Death Dealer's irresistible onslaught, even if the faint whiff of cheese can be detected over the menacing din. A force to be reckoned with, Death Dealer is metal to the core and has shown everyone how it's done.

CD/DVD Review: Aerosmith  Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014
Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Rating: A-

Aerosmith - Aerosmith
Rocks Donington 2014 - 2015
A massive spectacle in every sense, the Download Festival rolled out the red carpet for royalty in 2014, welcoming Aerosmith as a headlining act. These kings of sleazy, blues-infused rock 'n' roll laid down the law in an electrifying outing from the "Let Rock Rule" tour, now available as a lavish, career-spanning two CD/DVD collection titled "Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014." Overly effusive in his praise, Rolling Stone's David Wild gushes and prattles on endlessly in colorfully photographed liner notes that serve more as a mash note to Aerosmith than anything else. On the other hand, he's not wrong about them or this powder keg of a performance, as Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer feverishly tear through a raucous, double-barreled blast of "Train Kept A-Rollin'" and "Eat The Rich" for openers, confidently strut and preen all over the full-tilt boogie of "Walk This Way" and "Same Old Song and Dance," and radiate pure energy in vibrant, crowd-pleasing renditions of "Love In An Elevator" and "Dude Looks Like A Lady." Vividly filmed in high definition, with quick-cutting, sweeping camera work shooting from unusual angles and edited so it comes up with money shots in every scene of the band in full throat, "Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014" is a truly great concert film. And the sound is just as striking and lucid. Aerosmith is electrifying on this sparkling night, with newer fare like "Cryin'" and "Jaded" shining just as brightly and gloriously as old favorites like a savage "Sweet Emotion," the majestic "Dream On" and a rollicking "Mama Kin." Even with Tyler, ever the ring leader, narcissistically mugging for the camera at various turns and occasionally slurring his way through the words, this is vintage Aerosmith, a full-force gale onstage playing with power and passion as Perry and Whitford trade nasty licks, Kramer kicks like a mule and Hamilton acts as the anchor, his bass phrasing melodic and compelling throughout these 20 songs. Nobody should be jaded about Aerosmith.
– Peter Lindblad

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