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The Headless Children

W.A.S.P. - The Headless Children ©1989 Capitol
1. The Heretic (The Lost Child)
2. The Real Me
3. The Headless Children
4. Thunderhead
5. Mean Man
6. The Neutron Bomber
7. Mephisto Waltz 8. Forever Free
9. Maneater
10. Rebel in the F.D.G.

After sleazing their way through the 80s as a shock rock band armed with parent-offending sexual innuendo and an over the top image, W.A.S.P. never actually seemed entirely like a serious band. In fact, they seemed much more like a circus act (an electric one, if you will) featuring guitar playing clowns in very scary costumes. It certainly helped gain them attention, ultimately pitting bandleader Blackie Lawless with the P.M.R.C. and Tipper Gore. That was all well and good, but it wasn't until 1989 that they finally bothered making an album that demanded the public's ear for an entirely different reason: it was a damned good, but serious album. Gone were the overtones of lewdness, replaced with a far more grown up approach. Whatever you want to say about Blackie Lawless and his rampaging ego, the man can write and perform a good song when he puts his mind to it.

While there's still some occasional rockstar trappings (Lawless feels compelled to inform us that he's a mean motherfucking man on "Mean Man", a song whose lyrics probably won't be discussed at the university level any time soon), The Headless Children tends to offer up arena rock with a somewhat dark, brooding edge. Not a gothic edge, mind you. More like Blackie Lawless had spent some time thinking about the problems of the world. The album opener, "The Heretic (The Lost Child)", is a stunningly good piece, featuring a build within the song that just explodes in the latter half. It's the kind of song that makes you sit up and take notice. The band also covers "The Real Me", an old Who number which gets a rather good makeover. Even more surprisingly, "Forever Free" is a power ballad that avoids entirely sucking. It still screams of 80s glam metal, but it's nowhere near as embarrassing as the Whitesnake back catalogue or anything Axl Rose has done since 1988.

The Headless Children does bog down a bit when the band veers away from the more thoughtful material such as "The Heretic" and starts singing odes to motorcycles or whatever manly thing these sort of bands sang about to preserve their masculinity while wearing mascara. As a result, the album could have been a bit better, but regardless, it was certainly W.A.S.P.'s finest moment to that point.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2010

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The Crimson Idol

W.A.S.P. - The Crimson Idol ©1992 Capitol
1. The Titanic Overture
2. The Invisible Boy
3. Arena Of Pleasure
4. Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)
5. The Gypsy Meets The Boy
6. Doctor Rockter
7. I Am One
8. The Idol
9. Hold On To My Heart
10. The Great Misconceptions Of Me

W.A.S.P. gets a bad rap. Of course, they essentially built that reputation themselves with shock-rock songs like the infamous "Animal" and lame arena anthems, but the fact is that Blackie Lawless is a very talented singer and songwriter when he really wants to be, which was obviously the case when he wrote his magnum opus, The Crimson Idol.

If you were to believe interviews Lawless gave when this album was coming out, you'd think The Crimson Idol was the concept album to end all concept albums, with a deep storyline about a troubled rocker's rise and fall. The truth is that the storyline could have been whipped up by a fifteen year old during algebra class, and that the whole concept-ness of the album is a complete carbon copy of the Who's Tommy and Quadrophenia, with a couple of allusions to Pink Floyd's The Wall, down to the uncannily Keith-Moon-soundalike drumming and the "Comfortably Numb"-ripoff lead guitar solo in "The Idol".

That being said, The Crimson Idol is a fantastic album - the kind you simply can't help but play four times a day. The unifying storyline adds cohesiveness to a set of strong, melodic, catchy, rocking and simply great tunes, with melodic and/or lyrical leitmotive running through most of them. This is sophisticated three-chord anthem rock (rumor has it Alan Greenspan rocks out with his stock out to it on occasion), and Blackie's oddly beautiful and passionate singing voice, together with the possessed, demonic screams dozens of singers have tried and failed to emulate, Bob Kulick's inspired guitar solos and the superb Keith Moon drumming all converge into an exceptionally satisfying album. "Arena of Pleasure" and "Chainsaw Charlie" would make Milo's Venus headbang, and even the ballads manage to remain poignant without being too sappy.

My only complaint about this record, other than its obvious derivativeness, is that it keeps me from playing any other albums for days at a time. It's that addictive.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 08/2004

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Unholy Terror

W.A.S.P. - Unholy Terror ©2001 Metal-Is/Sanctuary
1. Let It Roar
2. Hate To Love Me
3. Loco Motive Man
4. Unholy Terror
5. Charisma
6. Who Slayed Baby Jane?
7. Euphoria
8. Raven Heart
9. Evermore
10. Wasted White Boys

Who ever thought that in 2001, well beyond my impressionable teenage metal listening years, that I'd find myself thoroughly enjoying a W.A.S.P. record? Considering they were one of the most over-the-top (read: overblown) 80s metal bands to ever cop a gimmick, it's very hard to believe that they are still going and moreover, going stronger than ever? Certainly not I. I honestly disregarded them as being cartoon characters back in the 80s and their representations both on record and in media didn't help matters. However, growing up can do wonders for a band and at this point in 2001, W.A.S.P. can definitely be regarded as a serious, viable band with something to say worth hearing. Apparently the band spent a good part of the 90s recording more serious projects than, say, Animal (F**k Like a Beast), which was more conceived to shock uptight American adults than necessarily provide quality music.

Unholy Terror is an introspective look into one's personal journey through religion and spirituality. Blackie Lawless offers a fairly lengthy explanation of the album's lyrical motivation in the liner notes, which are fairly informative. It is obvious Blackie still is quite passionate about his music and has learned sometimes subtle approaches are the best way to drive a point home. The music on Unholy Terror is a more adult W.A.S.P., still retaining their sound from yesteryear but with a sense of maturity and growth. The unique, love-it-or-hate-it Lawless vocals are still quite intact. The music throughout ranges from nearly anthemic rockers to a great moody instrumental called "Euphoria". The songs are very well realized, melodic and are no strangers to catchy hooks. You could call this 80s metal that is not embarrassing to hear in 2001. Unholy Terror is by no means the most innovative record you will hear this calendar year, but as far as simple, basic enjoyment goes, you can definitely do much worse. A big cheer to W.A.S.P. for becoming a truly vital and intelligent part of the metal world.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2001

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