W.A.S.P – The Crimson Idol Review

W.A.S.P - The Crimson Idol

W.A.S.P – The Crimson Idol

The Crimson Idol is the fifth full-length studio album by the Los Angels based band W.A.S.P. It was self-produced by singer Blackie Lawless (with help from Ross Robinson) and released in 1992 through Capitol records. The album sees a personnel change within the band as guitarist Chris Holmes is replaced by Bob Kulic of Kiss/Meatloaf fame. It was originally going to be a solo album but record label politics changed that idea and it ended up as a W.A.S.P record.

This album is a concept album or rock opera which tells the semi-autobiographical life story of a fictional Rock Star named Jonathan Steel and his struggles with fame and the strains that this places on his relationships. There are some minor narrative similarities with Savatage’s 1991 release Streets: A Rock Opera (which tells the story of a fictional rock star too), and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, although each are different enough from each other so as not to cause too much outrage.

Musically there are a lot of recurring themes and variations on those themes, with parts switching from instrument to instrument, from overdriven to acoustic, from background to foreground etc.

On this album, Blackie really stepped up and improved greatly as a writer and performer. The vocals are much more impressive and emotional than before. There is also an incredibly enthusiastic and bombastic approach to the drums (courtesy of both Stet Howland, as well as former Quiet Riot man Frankie Banali who appears here and on their previous album The Headless Children), and a very cavernous, exaggerated production style, which gives the record a very unique sound and feel. Their previous album hinted at a new level of maturity and ambition, but this artistic and confident record is the fulfillment of that promise.

Highlights include: “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)” “I Am One” and the eight-minute “The Idol.” That being said, the record really works best when listened to as a whole.

Overall; The Crimson Idol is a really unique and interesting sounding album, with talented performances (especially in the vocal and drumming departments). It shows the band expanding their sound and trying new things. This really is a classic album, one that lives up to its hype, and I highly recommend that you check it out.


  1. I think this is a good album. However it has one weakness I can’t get past — I think the songs are very same-y. Having said that you did nail pretty much everything good about this album in your review. Glad you liked it.


    • You’re right about the sameyness for sure.
      I think more than Streets and The Wall and definitely Mindcrime, this is way samier than your average Rock Opera.

      I still like it a lot, but that is definitely true.


  2. Bob Kulick not Bruce his brother. Both have worked with kiss in the past.


  3. But it was Bob who worked on the crimson idol and still not black enough. Bob is the one of the best guitarists in history, used to teach ace frehley how to solo.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s