Who is the titular God featured on Andrew W.K.’s fifth album, God Is Partying? Well, it’s no one other than the Godfather of heavy metal himself, Ronnie James Dio.
No, W.K. doesn’t sound like Dio, but he has found a way to channel the very spirit of the legendary Black Sabbath and Rainbow songs like ‘Heaven And Hell’ and ‘Holy Diver’ over nine triumphant tracks. Singles ‘Everybody Sins’, ‘Babalon’ and ‘I’m In Heaven’ hinted at W.K.’s heaviest album yet; they demonstrated a mature, aggressive vocal styling, W.K. infusing maximalist keyboard-led tracks with hard-hitting guitar riffs and a massive drum sound building up to an unexpected left turn that somehow made sense. So… How does the rest of the album hold up?
Though one might expect the album to fully commit to that heavy metal influence, those singles are instead sandwiched between hard-rock ballads. That’s not to say they’re bad – ‘No One To Know’ in particular is a beauty – but we’ll admit that fell prey to our own expectations. There’s some cheese, a ton of the grandiosity we’ve come to know and love over the years, plenty of killer riffs, and the finest vocal performances that W.K. has delivered thus far. If anyone can craft both ultra-cool metal tracks and moving, nostalgic ballads without either falling flat, it’s W.K.
He plays every instrument, from the keyboards, synths and pianos, to guitars, bass, drums and the rest, resulting in the quintessential Andrew W.K album. If anything, the ballads we initially felt unsure about turn out to be the best, most expansive, and most confident tracks here. When you peel away the sheen and surprise factor, the singles we were enamoured with fall into the traps of repetition (one riff for an entire song, ‘I’m In Heaven’?), and show that W.K. tends to go heavy for the sake of heaviness.
The truth is, W.K. is at his strongest when he’s writing poignant, uplifting tracks with an epic spin: ‘Remember Your Oath’ and ‘My Tower’ are proof of this. All of that being said, God Is Partying is too fun and enriching to knock it for its flaws. The joys of music, partying and life reign supreme.
God Is Partying is out September 10 via Napalm Records
Click here to pre-order a copy