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Now I’ve heard a bunch of different sides to this album – Lawless says it’s a fucking atrocity to mankind, reviewers here on Metal Archives tend to disagree, and the cocksuckers at Capitol thought it was fairly decent. Going into this after hearing the colossus that was The Last Command, I was sure as hell going in knowing very well it was a step down. I wasn't correct, as this album kicks ass from start to finish. It's essentially a collection of insanely fun, straightforward tracks one after the other. This album truly has more in common with the debut than anything because it goes back to that raw, sleazy attitude. It manages to remain more professional, though, so don’t let Blackie in a cheetah outfit tell you otherwise.
Lawless himself picks up rhythm guitar duties herein, and while the previous album was loads more memorable, the playing here remains as stellar as ever – if not better. The riffs still are one in the same direction-wise from The Last Command, with a stronger approach towards more hard-hitting tracks. Choruses are heavier, vocals more hoarse, the drumming much louder; god damn they sound pissed. Hearing Lawless and Holmes dish it out reminds me of Jake E. Lee’s style on Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark At The Moon - he had guitar duties all to himself and needed to make an impression after Rhoads’ passing, so he went all out. Therefore, the riffs on Inside The Electric Circus orient themselves across a huge spectrum as to be sure the audience in the very back behind 10,000 others are going to hear it just as clearly as those front and center.
While the debut really had this problem with dull songs, it’s not too big of a deal here. There are definitely songs that don’t stand out, but there’s a standard that the consistency meets from first to last. Bass on all these go pretty unnoticed over the layering guitar attacks, but you’ll likely not pay too much attention to that. There’s still enough backing power in the riffs to do justice, so you’ll pay more attention to the riffs than anything else. If anything, I’ll blame the production on this because it focuses completely on the guitars and vocals while leaving out the bass and drums.
Surprisingly though, the drumming sounds damn good: double bass thumps deeply and heavily, toms have that catchy 80s echo, and the cymbals don’t crash like tin can lids. Solos adapt to which ever song they accompany – the title track has a very classy solo, “Restless Gypsy” wouldn’t be the same without it’s heartfelt solo, and “King Of Sodom And Gomorrah” is only a Middle Eastern inspired song because of its Middle Eastern inspired solo. It’s definitely the best option they had instead of putting all flamboyant solos for every track, which would just sound out of place.
Every time I leave this album alone for a bit, I keep forgetting why it kicks ass. Then I go back to it, hear just three random songs, and come back to my senses. It’s hard to believe that Lawless finds this crap compared to the debut and even The Crimson Idol. It’s the last W.A.S.P. album to continue the heavy metal / hard rocking / party tradition while still remaining a seminal piece of music. I won’t deny that W.A.S.P. has failed to deliver quality material, but it definitely didn’t start with this one.
W.A.S.P. were a tricky proposition in the 1980s. Yes, they were rooted fair and square in the Glam metal scene, but they had the problem of being too brutal for many of the glam rockers, but too camp for thrash fans. You just have to look at their image — Blackie Lawless looked like he'd stolen his hair off the Bride of Frankenstein and there were those famous saw blades on his arms. And the guy was 6 foot 6! And then there was the tattooed madman, guitar–slinging sidekick in the form of Chris Holmes, a booze fuelled psychopath. W.A.S.P.'s stage show also out–shocked Alice Cooper's. Yes, the image was strong. But W.A.S.P. always had the music to back it. And what about the music? Well, Blackie Lawless had been writing songs for the likes of Motley Crue for a period before he put W.A.S.P. together, and had proved to be pretty prolific as a songwriter. "Inside The Electric Circus" was W.A.S.P.'s third album in as many years, and Lawless' inspiration did not seem to have flagged at all. The decadent sex (9.5 –N.A.S.T.Y.), drugs (Douche Bag Blues) and rock n roll (Inside The Electric Circus) ingredients are all there.
Musically, W.A.S.P. rocked a lot harder than a majority of glam rock bands at the time. Blackie's voice is a lot harsher than the glam standard "nuts in a vice" squeal popular at the time. There are some tasty vocal harmonies and melodies to be found too. Riff–wise, it would not take too much beefing up to see some of the guitar work turning up on the likes of an Ozzy Osbourne album.
While it may have seemed like W.A.S.P. was living the rock n roll dream to the casual observer, all was not well. W.A.S.P. became a major target of the PMRC's moral crusade to sanitise music for the youth of America. While this undoubtedly boosted the band's image and career (kids will always want to check out what they're not meant to), it also took away much of the gloss from the band's success. Indeed, Lawless had been fired up by the moral minority, with "I'm Alive" dedicated to "oppressive organisations worldwide".
At the end of the day though, this is still a good fun rock and roll album. A couple of covers ("I Don't Need No Doctor" and "Easy Living") helped lighten the mood, and there are some neglected classics here, like "Restless Gypsy" and "Mantronic".
This is the stuff many a metalhead listened to between Bon Jovi and Iron Maiden.
With every new album W.A.S.P. puts out, they tend to do new theatrics when playing live, and this album is no exception (they even had the stage look like a circus!). "Inside the Electric Circus” is my favorite W.A.S.P. album (following this one are “W.A.S.P.”, “The Crimson Idol” and “UnHoly Terror”), and is slightly different than their first two releases. “Inside the Electric Circus” has a different sound compared to “The Last Command”, with sharp and quick riffs, and sound texture (I won’t go into detail on that). This album ended the “fun stuff” W.A.S.P. did early in their career and prepared everyone for the serious albums (I’m going by studio albums, skipping “Live… In the Raw”). “The Big Welcome” begins the album, with Blackie acting as a circus leader, welcoming all to the main attraction. The second half, “Inside the Electric Circus”, continues with heavy riffs and straight up W.A.S.P. goodness that we’d expect from Blackie & Co. The Humble Pie cover of “I Don’t Need No Doctor” is, honest to say, better than the original (and the only version I’ve heard of the original, is a live version). “9-5 N.A.S.T.Y. was the first single of the album, and by far, the loudest. I’m surprised Blackie didn’t damage any vocal cords while screaming the chorus of the song (although he had to do a few vocal sessions for “Wild Child”, I wonder how long this one took). “Restless Gypsy”, now, I wouldn’t say that this is a ballad, pur se, but it does seem like one, and still an all around great song. “Shoot from the Hip” continues the ass kicking of this album, and is a very catchy track. “I’m Alive” is a great song to listen to; it makes you think of riding a motorcycle. The second cover song, originally by Uriah Heep, “Easy Living” is a song that you might find yourself singing to every once in a while. “Sweet Cheetah” seems like Blackie went back to the “circus” theme for a while, and seems like a continuation of “Restless Gypsy” and it’s a good love song (if you want to go that far). “Mantronic” and “King of Sodom and Gomorrah” sound somewhat similar, and are one of the many songs that tend to go unnoticed (too bad for those people eh?). For the original album, the circus stops, but tells you that they will return soon, with “The Rock Rolls On” is one hell of a rock n’ roll song. A fast, hard and heavy song, just the way we like it.
Now, as with some previous and future W.A.S.P. albums, there is a remastered edition. This one comes with two bonus tracks, “Flesh & Fire”, which uses lots of metaphors in the song (Blackie talking about sex, referring to baseball), and the satirical, “D.B. Blues” (Douche Bag Blues). The second bonus track is very... odd. Blackie wasn’t kidding when he said at the beginning, “This is what happens when you consume massive amounts of drugs and alcohol”.
If you’re able to find this album, throw the Slipknot album or whatever friggin’ album you going to buy, and buy this one; it's a treasure. If you’re a fanatic of 80’s heavy metal, you won’t be disappointed; if you are disappointed, shame.
The first two W.A.S.P. albums were undeniable classics, totally amazing stuff. Heavy metal at it's very, very best. The third album however, did turn out to be quite a disappointment. Why? Inconsistency. This has some of W.A.S.P.'s greatest tracks, but also some of their worst (at least of the first five, which is all I've got so far). Sorta like their Fear of the Dark, only better.
The album is pretty similar to The Last Command, but the guitar sound is a bit sharper and heavier. Otherwise, it's just straightforward rockage all through.
But like I said, several of the songs turn out to be quite disappointing. The second track, I Don't Need No Doctor, is a midpaced, rock n' roll-ish tune which never did anything for me. Despite some groovy vocal lines, it just never seems to get anywhere. And then Shoot From The Hip, King of Sodom and Gomorrah and Mantronic just feel very by-the-numbers, and there isn't alot of effort put into the songwriting. They're not bad songs, but you've heard them all before in much better formats.
The rest, however, is W.A.S.P. as we know and love them. The nearly speed metal riffs and explosive vocals of the title track grabs you by the balls from start to finish. 95 N.A.S.T.Y. is just groovy as hell, with the drum-driven verses, sinister atmosphere and another killer chorus.
Restless Gypsy was their best ballad to date, with some totally awesome vocal melodies and a mesmerizing atmosphere as the major standouts. The Uriah Heep cover Easy Living is probably the best cover they ever did. Sweet Cheetah is just your standard W.A.S.P. track- which means that it owns. The Rock Rolls On is a very catchy rocker with a great chorus, that works very well as a closer. But the definite highlight is I'm Alive, which easily ends up in my top 5 W.A.S.P. songs. The layered guitarwork shines brightly, with the galloping riffs and the killer melodies over it. On top of it all, we have some very memorable vocal lines, especially the chorus which is totally classic material.
Inside The Electric Circus is definitely quite far below the band's first two releases, but still shouldn't be easily dismissed. This has some totally amazing material on it as well, that you just can't miss. If you just skip the bad stuff, this is pretty much another masterpiece.
Oh yeah, the humorous bonus track Douche Bag Blues must also be mentioned. The title pretty much says it all. It begins with the totally classic quote- "Now this isn't the stuff we usually do for you guys, this is what happens when you consume massive amounts of drugs and alcohol." And it ends with another classic- "Time flies when you're in a coma, you know that?"