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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.