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In the history of every band, there have always been albums which were somewhat different than the previous, all marking a sudden and drastic change in both the imagery and sound of the respective bands. Mostly (but not necessarily) this is due to the fact that old members leave and/or new are recruited, who bring along their influence upon the band. We have Iron Maiden's legendary "Number of the Beast" featuring the great Bruce Dickinson, Metallica's pathetic modern rock attempts ("Load") or Pantera's "Cowboys from Hell" where they made a complete change from the glam scene to thrashy groove. another example of this phenomenon is the fourth (not counting the Live...In the Raw album) release from one of the cheekiest and wildest heavy metal groups, being none other than W.A.S.P.
The Headless Children is a very successful album. And by successful I mean really breathtaking for any heavy metal fan. As W.A.S.P. started out, the immediately managed to impress the 80s metal scene with their first two long players. Playing in a way remarkable for that respective time, they quickly attracted a lot of attention to what they do. The even had censorship problems due to their explicit sexual related themes and use of profanity. But that's exactly what heavy metal is about, so the plus factors definitely land there. Unlike their other releases, however, with "The Headless Children", W.A.S.P. have moved on to more serious themes in their music such as social decadence. They have even outed themselves as "The Who" fans here, covering their own version of "The Real Me". But this songs seems a little bit lost on this album, as it seems to be pushed in between two of the more mature songs. Nevertheless it's fun to listen at.
The production we have here is crystal clear, but still manages to capture the feeling of serious heavy metal. The first track, The heretic, hauls a steady mid tempo drum beat immediately after a short let's say in mezzo-piano played intro. After listening to a few seconds of this, one instantly remarks the change of sound into the melodramatic side of Blackie Lawless. The emotion that is built in this track is impressive. Like always we have a very catchy chorus, amazing tapping parts, both short and long and a smooth flowing song structure accompanied by Blackie Lawless' amazing one-of-a-kind trademark singing. No one can really sound like this man does. The way he gets that vibrato in his raspy and hoarse voice and sound very melodic at the same time is awe-inspiring. He also gets extraordinary high, which is really envious. We even get a sort of duet between short guitar solo parts and the chorus at the end of the track along with a very chaotic, fast and crazy solo. And that's how all the soli on this album are: crazy and energetic. Next aspect on this album are the gloomy choirs used on "The headless children", which is my favorite track here. Again, W.A.S.P. experiments with different guitar effects, sounding a little bit industrial at times, but not as much as their later work, such as "Kill, Fuck, Die". Once again, the verse on this track contains a groovy drum beat that is slower than on the first track and slowly sung vocals, followed by a majestic chorus that just animates you to sing along. At the end the tempo changes to a faster pace with an excellent riff at 4:30. Simply by listening to this together with the solo that follows generates goose bumps. The next tracks feature some really great piano and hammond melodies and even some police car sounds on "The neuron bomber"! Now if that's not an awesome thing to do, then I give up. By the time the acoustic track "Mephisto Waltz" kicks in, one is completely amazed in how much W.A.S.P. have managed to built into this album. And to finish it off, they even made the last track dedicated to their old material which really sends you back, gets you to put on your sunglasses, make grimaces and nod your head.
The only song that makes this album not receive full rating, is "Forever Free", which is not a bad song and features great soli, but is flawed at times, sounding too slack on certain parts. Reminds me of "Breakfast at Tiffany" or something else I just don't need to hear. This is one of the few ballads of W.A.S.P. which is not very catch, in my opinion. But still, all in all, this is one fantastic album, recommended for any metal fan who has already dedicated his existence to heavy metal!