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While many bands have their breakthrough while the members are pushing into their 20s, Blackie didn’t get it until he was pushing out of his. While active during the mid / late-1970s, it’s when he initiated W.A.S.P. that things began to look in his favor. This demo would be one of the pieces essential to getting the band’s name out and releasing a full-length album, which Blackie had never done before at the time. Face The Attack is made up of W.A.S.P. tracks that would make it onto the debut, The Last Command, another later album, or end up in the far reaches of the heavy metal netherworld.
The guys on the cover are (from left to right) Rik Fox, Blackie Lawless, Tony Richards, and Randy Piper, who don’t sound too bad as a cohesive unit. The first five tracks ended up on the debut album, and they don’t sound too far off aside from the production. While not perfect (obviously) and slightly different depending on the track, Blackie’s vocals always sound legitimate. Even in his early days he had his trademark grainy vocals down, but here it just needs a production revamp and he’s right on par with his wails and shouts from the first full-length. I guess since he hasn’t truly stuck to the style, we hear more unorthodox bits where he goes out of character (check out “Mr. Cool” and “Sex Drive” to hear what I’m talking about).
As far as production goes: “On Your Knees” and “School Daze” are the least sophisticated, “Sleeping (In The Fire)” and “B.A.D.” are the bass-heavy (and I’m talking F.A.T.) ones, and “Sex Drive” and “Hellion” are the most refined and proper songs. “Mr. Cool” is a Circus Circus track that would turn into “Cries In The Night,” but the tone of it is exactly the same; some lyrics, instrumental parts, and Blackie’s vocals mellow and angry instead of sad and angry, giving the song a badass attitude instead of a poignant one like on “Cries In The Night.” Drums go from tin and frail to jazzy and thumping with vigor and force, thanks to the production differences, so at least there’s variety in that.
Guitars aren’t always prominent on this release, especially since the production between tracks fluctuates (these weren’t recorded during the same session, and some not in the same year). “Mr. Cool”, “Hellion, “Sex Drive,” and “Master Of Disaster” are the tracks that have the heaviest / most clear guitar tones, with the other tracks having them drowned out. Speaking of “Master Of Disaster,” it’s the most surprising track on this release; it’s very reminiscent of the songs on The Headless Children more than the first three full-lengths. Everything from the stampeding tempo, to the boiled screams of Blackie, to that psychotic bridge of twisted solos – forget it, this song is a beast of a track that Blackie should have resurrected at some point.
The other three songs - “What I Am,” “Star Dancer,” and “Sweet Dreams” – I’m clueless on, because every version I get doesn’t have these three songs. Well, “Sweet Dreams” I have heard, and it’s a sing-a-long song by Blackie’s previous band, Sister, with a country vibe to it; that’s about all I can say. Unless “What I Am” is the same as “Don’t Know What I Am,” then I don’t know where to find that song, either. “Star Dancer” I’ve never seen anywhere else, and I doubt I’ll ever get to hear it.
W.A.S.P. fans, give this one a go just to hear how these early renditions sounded like. It’d also be a good move to hear what Blackie was coming up with in his early days; some of the songs are damn good, too. Many would make it onto later albums, but giving these originals some of your time won’t hurt.