“I'm gonna take you, lay you face
Down on my bed
On bloody roses see you smile
Oh, your screaming heart is bleeding
Black and beating loud
You got no prayer nowhere
There ain't no way out tonight”
Upon hearing the above opening lines of W.A.S.P.’s thirteenth studio album, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a return to roots much like 1999’s Helldorado, but as the album progresses it becomes clear that this is in no way an attempt at reclaiming former glories. A quick read through the liner notes makes it known that this is serious stuff and the above lines have a much deeper meaning than what the first two lines suggest. The concept behind several of the songs on this album is based around a larger more powerful country treating a smaller country in a way that metaphorically makes the less powerful country it’s “bitch”, much like an abusive man to a woman. Whilst Blackie Lawless is one of few artists capable of pulling off such a concept, it is perhaps fair to say that it is a little too hard to detect given the familiarity of such sexually inspired lyrics and it only really reveals itself fully upon reading the album’s liner notes.
The line-up for this album is:
Blackie Lawless – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards
Doug Blair – Lead Guitar (except on Deal With The Devil, performed by Darrell Roberts)
Mike Duda – Bass
Mike Dupke – Drums
Musically Dominator sees no major change in direction from the band’s previous two albums (The Neon God Part 1 and Part 2) and if anything Blackie’s instantly recognisable vocals sound better than ever particularly on the album’s centrepiece, the seven minute epic Heaven’s Hung In Black, which is quite possibly the most dramatic and emotional song the band have ever produced and which, along with Take Me Up, has since become a staple in the band’s live show. The aforementioned epic sees a dying solider being told that there is no room left in heaven and was inspired by a quote from Abraham Lincoln regarding the casualty report from the Battle of Gettysburg.
Long, Long Way To Go is one of the album’s more forgettable songs but is by no means a weak track, just one that is overpowered by songs such as The Burning Man, which sees the band take on a much more aggressive approach than shown on the rest of the album. Lead guitarist, Doug Blair does a fine job having joined the band shortly after the release of The Neon God Part 2, but the album’s stand out solo is courtesy of Darrell Roberts who performs on one track, album closer Deal With The Devil, which is easily the album’s most light-hearted song. But it’s during the more melodic moments that the band really shine, with Heaven’s Hung In Black being the album’s unrivalled highlight.
Although more or less a Blackie Lawless solo project these days it is impressive that more than 20 years into their career W.A.S.P. are still releasing material of such a high standard and that they are still managing to throw in a surprise or two. Overall, Dominator is an excellent album and fans can only hope that the band continue to release album’s as good as this, and with the release of Babylon last year, the band show no sign of slowing down.