RANDY PIPER’S ANIMAL – Virus (2008 Locomotive)
Randy Piper — not a household name, but astute (or old) metal fans will know the name from the first two W.A.S.P. albums. He had no writing credits on the W.A.S.P. albums, so I wondered what his band Animal would sound like. Chris Holmes, after all, has been known to drop a stinker album so why not Piper?
Whether by nature or design, Piper’s Animal at first sounds a hell of a lot like early W.A.S.P. on 2008’s Virus. I tend to think this is more by design, since producer/guitarist Chris Laney has writing credits all over the place too. Whatever the case may be, singer Rich Lewis evokes a young Blackie Lawless with his raw vocal stylings. The riffs tend to be very W.A.S.P.-like in spots. Then there are moments such as the dual guitar harmony outro on “Can’t Stop” that sounds nothing like W.A.S.P.
One song that sounds very little like W.A.S.P. is “Don’t Wanna Die”. Even though I can hear The Who at the beginning, and Blackie Lawless is heavily influenced by The Who, this sounds nothing like Blackie. Rich Lewis morphs his voice into something more individual with power to spare. His own voice starts to shine through on this pop rock number. But before the album is in danger of sliding into pop territory comes the song “Crying Eagle” which has more in common with Iron Maiden than W.A.S.P. Then, “Unnatural High” has the tinkling ivories of a Savatage song. Incidentally, that’s an awesome song.
The first song that I’m not really into is track 6, “Judgement Day”. Maybe it’s the “circus music” intro or the return to overly-W.A.S.P.-like songs, I find it a bit of a drop after the excellent “Unnatural High”. It does boast a solid chunky riff and some cooling rolling drums. “Who’s Next” is a bit of a low as well. It’s boasts some adventurous melodies but I’m just not feeling it.
Next up is the elephant in the room: “Zombie”. This is not a song about zombies, but in fact a Cranberries cover. The first time I heard it, I didn’t know it was coming, and I was sitting there thinking, “Cool sounding song, sounds familiar somehow.” Then a second later I realized what it was. So that initial impression remains with me. I see it as a really cool, dark metal song in this version. Maybe that’s the way it always should have been. If you can imagine W.A.S.P. meets “Zombie” (yes, such a thing can exist) then you might appreciate this song.
“Shoot To Kill” isn’t a standout song, but it does have a pretty good chorus. I don’t feel that the chorus fits the pounding riff, but the guitar solo is catchy and cool. The album ends with the very W.A.S.P.-ish title “L.U.S.T.”. This is a really cool song, with loads of melody and great vocals by Rich. It has a W.A.S.P. flavour to it, but with elements that Blackie never would have come up with.
I always like to give a little more info with my reviews, like background on the album or band, but I don’t have any. Jon from E-tainment News & Reviews knows a lot more about these guys, so I hope you don’t mind if I let him take it from here:
When this album finally came out, Randy had grown his ego huge and as he drinks like a fish he’s gotten paranoid, accusing Laney for taking all the profits for the 1st album, leaving him with nothing. Only there were no profits, Laney had actually borrowed money to make these albums and if it hadn’t been for the fact that Laney worked as a producer and engineer at Polar Studios alongside Lennart Östlund (who has worked with Stones, Zeppelin and ABBA), the album wouldn’t have sounded as good as it did.
It does sound good. 3.75/5 stars.
- Cardiac Arrest
- Can’t Stop
- Don’t Wanna Die
- Crying Eagle
- Unnatural High
- Judgement Day
- Who’s Next
- Shoot To Kill