W.A.S.P are one of those few costume bands that infiltrated the mainstream by force, and are still a name that can easily pull the audiences in a similar way to Guns ‘n’ Roses – as was recently exhibited by the recent sold-out tour of the former in the latter half of 2017.
Their critically-acclaimed release The Crimson Idol from 1992 – which is often considered their most popular album – is back again in “reidolized” form. Unknown to some, when this album came out 26 years ago; it was originally to be accompanied by a 60 minute video clip which was unfortunately never actually released – until now.
Before watching the video, it’s recommended to rediscover the original album, especially if it’s been a while since last listening to the release. I am personally very fond of concept albums such as Seventh Wonder’s Mercy Falls from 2008 and Lordi’s 2016 release Monstereophonic, and always finding myself enjoying them – even though they are sometimes not popular with established fans of bands.
In this context, The Crimson Idol is no different for me, starting with the gentle dulcet tones of “Titanic Overture”, before hitting into the classic sound of W.A.S.P with “The Invisible Boy”. From the first two tracks, the listener can already tell that they are in the presence of a masterpiece, the epic chapters flowing from one style to another with ease; from soft to heavy; the tracks littered sporadically with haunting backing vocals and blinding guitar solos.
However, the star of the show is ol’ Blackie Lawless. Every time his voice is heard, it is not hard to have the wind blown out of one’s sails by one of the most recognisable talents in the rock genre, easily as notable as Axl Rose or Paul Stanley of KISS; and in this classic album, there is no exception – it still manages to send shivers down the spine after 26 years.
And so, with myself reacquainted with the album in question, it is time to get on with the main event – The Crimson Idol’s visual story of Jonathan Aaron Steele. The video opens with a brief narration of the reason behind the concept, with The Crimson Idol as the soundtrack to accompany the visuals, of course.
The film is shot with a crimson filter applied over the lens and features jarring, unsettling clips of footage. The story of the “Invisible Boy” is harrowing as it shows the viewer of Jonathan’s childhood trauma, and instances of his father disciplining him as a young boy. Straight away, I am drawing comparisons between this video and the clip of “Into the Arms of Cruelty” by little-known death metal band World Under Blood, with both featuring visceral scenes of what some children suffer as they mature, forever damaged, always invisible.
Once paired with the frantic and bracing album of The Crimson Idol, the visuals add up to build a disquieting and disconcerting overview of this young musician’s struggle into stardom and then his fall into failure. It is a stunning repertoire of images and hints into the fractured universe of this troubled lad and, in conclusion, this release is most definitely unmissable for the most devoted of W.A.S.P fans.
As a release on its own, The Crimson Idol still stands the test of time just as well as when it first came out 26 years ago, and has not aged a day in its composition and production – it’s still a sure-fire hit.
Re-Idolized (The Soundtrack to The Crimson Idol) Track Listing:
01. The Titanic Overture
02. The Invisible Boy
03. Arena Of Pleasure
04. Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)
05. The Gypsy Meets The Boy
06. Michael’s Song
07. Miss You
08. Doctor Rockter
Run Time: 39:51
01. I Am One
02. The Idol
03. Hold On To My Heart
04. Hey Mama
05. The Lost Boy
06. The Peace
07. Show Time
08. The Great Misconceptions Of Me
Run Time: 40:51
Release Date: February 2, 2018 (Napalm Records)
Watch the W.A.S.P. video for the song “Chainsaw Charlie” right here!