Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Surfing With W.A.S.P.

Dude, this new WASP song is really good!

Now THERE'S a sentence I never thought I'd utter. It's right up there with "I really wanna see this movie Hot Tub Time Machine" and the dinner-table-with-toddler classic "Touch your own hot." But as far as I knew, WASP were one of those bands that just always sucked. It seemed like their purpose in life--people would ask them what they did for a living, and they'd say, "We suck." People: "I'm sorry?" WASP: "We SUCK (like a beast)." People: "No, I mean I'm sorry you suck." WASP: [either] "Ba-DUM bum!" [or] "No, it's cool--we're pretty wealthy."

Granted, "as far as I knew" was not very far. Aside from their public battles with the PMRC in the '80s, I only knew their music through Babylon research. Their OTHER Babylon song is this really-very-poor excuse for a decadent screed, "Sunset and Babylon," a pathetic attempt to sum up their "legacy" and sell a couple greatest hits albums. They even cut a video for it, complete with scandalous WASP-related headlines:

At this point WASP seemed washed up and almost theoretical. Blackie Lawless's key lines in "Sunset" are "My hand firmly wrapped around a fifth of Bacardi" and "Just come on down and we'll get crude." If anything, he needed to drink MORE. But since then, Blackie got religion and started recording concept albums. Believe me, I haven't kept up, so feel free to fill in any blanks in the comments. But if WASP's recent album titles are to be believed, Blackie is now in the unusual position of being either the antichrist or the world's messiah. He is an Unholy Terror, a Dominator, who is busily Dying for the World while recording a two-part album called The Neon God. Heavy shit.

Maybe I need to go back and listen to all of them, because new one Babylon is REALLY GOOD. Like, one of the best new albums I've heard this year. (And I'm counting it for this year, even though it came out last year. Time cannot contain me.) More on the whole album later, but its concept is "Blackie sings the Book of Revelation," which everyone knows is the most kickass book of the Bible, except maybe Daniel. Well, and then you've got all the genocidal mayhem of Joshua and Samuel, and Job arguing with God, and the borderline-nihilism of Ecclesiastes--let's say most kickass book of the New Testament.

"Babylon's Burning" packs in all your favorite unsavory elements from Revelation. You've got Babylon, of course, and its attendant whore; you've got 666 and the seven seals and a seven-headed beast; there's even a horseman, though I'm not sure where the other three went to. (Maybe they're still hanging with Aphrodite's Child.) It's all pretty straightforward and Blackie makes no attempt at interpreting this complex apocalyptic symbolism.

No, he wisely saves that for the video. Ah, now I get it! The "Babylon" that's burning is every modern totalitarian government! They stifle freedom! They murder dissenters! They are typified by the evil faces of their leaders, who appear in an ominous filmic parade behind the band: Hitler, Stalin, Ahmadinejad, Putin, and--my word, is that Obama? Why yes, as it turns out, the new improved Blackie Lawless is on record comparing Obama to Hitler, and, um, denigrating him for being a socialist Robin Hood. (Didn't we used to LIKE Robin Hood?)

By showing Obama amid all these dictators, Blackie is dangerously close to making a good point. If he were making said point, it might be that our society is ALSO a Babylon; indeed, that ANY civilization apart from God's Kingdom occupies the symbolic position of Babylon; and that ALL rulers and regimes, no matter how much they might superficially differ from Blackie's parade of despotic wackjobs, are in fact running a system that's incompatible with the Kingdom.

As it is, Blackie's video is not making that good point. Rather, it's making the RETARDED point that Obama--unlike any previous American president OR sitting rich world leader--is a totalitarian dictator. I mean, come on Blackie! How hard would it have been to throw Bush's face up there? Or Nicolas Sarkozy, or Angela Merkel, or Stephen Harper--you KNOW we can't trust that guy! Obama is less socialist than ANY OF THEM, and saying even that much traps us inside the weird thought territory where any incremental socialism equals totalitarian brutality, and...

Oh Blackie. You see what you do to me? Here I am getting all worked up over this little song of yours, and it's really good! Congratulations! And if you were considering a second career in politics, here's another sentence I never thought I'd say: Blackie Lawless, you should keep your day job.

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