W.A.S.P.
"Dominator"

(Demolition)

01. Mercy
02. Long, Long Way To Go
03. Take Me Up
04. The Burning Man
05. Heaven's Hung In Black
06. Heaven's Black
07. Teacher
08. Heaven's Hung In Black (Reprise)
09. Deal With the Devil

RATING: 5/10

Remember when W.A.S.P. was scary? Like, Congressional-hearings scary? Exploding cod-piece scary? Now mainman Blackie Lawless is holding town meetings and sipping half-caf lattes with Dave Mustaine and alerting us all to the shocking fact that our government is largely full of shit. Stop the presses!

Luckily for his fans (those still left after the band's umpteen cancelled shows), Lawless is also still capable of cranking out some pretty solid metal. "Dominator", though, is pretty much Blackie coasting with some sidemen and what sound suspiciously like programmed drums, knocking out a whopping eight songs and a reprise. One of Lawless's saving graces has been the ability to sing the most obnoxious drivel with just that right touch of melodrama in his voice that makes it sound like the most urgent, compelling anthem ever (how else to explain how a song as dumb as "Blind in Texas" can rock so hard?). He's still in fine voice here, belting out some vaguely sociopolitical pap over a music bed that ranges from blandly inoffensive to occasionally noteworthy.

"The Burning Man" is a scorcher in the tradition of "Wild Child", with that same gritty intensity and back-alley intrigue. It has the unfortunate distinction of being stuck next to overwrought ballad "Take Me Up", but it purt-near single-handedly saves side one of "Dominator" from tanking completely in a puddle of its own indifference. It's such a great song that the band cranks out two more just like it, "Heaven's Blessed" and "Teacher", not long after.

The centerpiece of the album, "Heaven's Hung In Black", is a fairly rote anthem, definitely not something to hang a whole record from, but that's the only song with any substance here, floating in a sea of what sounds like b-sides and throwaways. "Deal With the Devil" is possibly the lamest cut, a boogie-woogie travesty with lyrics awkwardly shoehorned in to suggest they were written on the back of a takeout menu about ten minutes before the tape rolled (tho' the ending is a clichéd bit of end-of-the-record hamming it up that's worked like a charm since SKYNYRD ended "Free Bird" the same way).

The frustrating thing about "Dominator", besides its "Diver Down"-like brevity, is its total sense of autopilot. With a career and a legend as notorious as W.A.S.P. carts around, it'd almost be better if the record was a total, reeking, obnoxious shitpile — or at least a subject of hot debate, like 1999's industrial-tinged "Kill Fuck Die"). It's hard to imagine anyone's blood boiling, in a good or bad way, about this scant collection of background music. The worst offense Blackie could commit at this point in his history would be to deliver a non-event – and that's just what he's done on this tepid, forgettable, short, slapped-together and amiably bland speed bump of an album.

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