Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

W.A.S.P. - The Best Of The Rest

Yeah, yeah, there's been lots of compilation action on the W.A.S.P. front, but this one is pretty much the cream of the crop because it began life as a collection of the band's higher octane moments, those screeching power tracks that sound like the wind screaming through long hair on a Harley. And as the project progressed, Blackie essential kept that wild child spirit, sticking on anthems like I Wanna Be Somebody, L.O.V.E. Machine and the under-rated Sex Drive, along with newer cymbal-smashers like Helldorado. The album never really leaves that mandate, offering two new numbers that still rock, the band's raise-the-stakes version of Elton John's annoying, cloying and toothless Saturday Night Is Alright For Fighting and a somewhat finessed track from '99 called Unreal, replete with Blackie's signature Keith Moon-inspired percussive philosophy and the man's descending but frantic riff patterns. All in all, the kind of compilation a fan of the loud, lewd and metallic side of W.A.S.P. would assemble for debauched weekend binges in the '80s zone.
Rating 7

Sculptured - Apollo Ends
(The End)

Record #2 for Washington state's Sculptured continues with the band's potent blend of aged, very English medieval metal and doomy American death. It's a sound right up there with the dark progressive depressives currently creating new impressive waves in the UK and in Sweden, along with that shaggy anomaly Deceased and a killer Canadian indie act you ain't never heard of called Into Eternity. And lyrically, the band is up to their thick post-Maiden sod rock, the sum total reading like a dreamy sequence about sun-risen wakefulness and/or insomnia, gently prodded or mercilessly eroded by rain, dew and snow. The occasional use of horns is a bit of a forced touch, almost a bit too exotic and jarring on a record that is leaden metal heaven, methodical, always interesting and musical, offering a perfect and calculated blend of death and normal vocals, both of which work over such ancient, stone-crumbled riffery. It might take one more record to integrate these sounds productively (and I do hope they keep trying), but for now, Sculptured are an intellectually and emotionally intense purveyor of metal progression that have crafted a headphone album that lays the greased rails for a trip deep inside your soul. Just watch for floods, avalanches and mudslides.
Rating 9

Hard Reviews Page 4