This two-fer reissue from New York shock merchants the Plasmatics makes for a somewhat odd pairing, with the band's most punk-friendly album, 1980's New Hope for the Wretched, matched up with the 1981 EP Metal Priestess, where the band made its first clear bid for acceptance by the world's heavy metal kids. Truth be told, the shift isn't as disorienting as some might expect; a listen to New Hope makes it clear guitarists Richie Stotts and Wes Beech already had at least one toe dipped in the hard rock pool from the very beginning, though their more metallic inclinations were reigned in by the forward velocity of songs like "Tight Black Pants," "Butcher Baby," and "Monkey Suit," as well as the noisy experimentalism of their cover of Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover." On Metal Priestess, however, the band embraced a more arena-friendly sound, and seem quite comfortable with the creative shift; while "Doom Song" and "Lunacy" are slower and more histrionic than the material on New Hope, "Black Leather Monster" and live-in-concert covers of "Masterplan" and "Sex Junkie" from Beyond the Valley of 1984 show the band could still do fast 'n' loud while trading gloom and doom for their more Dead Boys-esque approach. And while Stotts and Beech play metal with real authority, it's singer Wendy O. Williams who really rises to the occasion, delivering the goods with greater skill than ever before. For this CD issue, New Hope for the Wretched has been tagged with three live bonus tracks, which (like the live stuff on Metal Priestess) feature a suspiciously enthusiastic audience who often seem louder than the band; while the EP would have better matched with Beyond the Valley of 1984, anyone nostalgic for mohawk-topped anarchists with a Black Sabbath jones will like this just fine.
New Hope for the Wretched/Metal Priestess Review
by Mark Deming