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Often a media lightning rod, and not merely for the iconic crotch rocket, Blackie Lawless has garnered a reputation for being all show and lacking in substance. This isn't so much an indictment of his lyrics since there's only so many ways to spin the sex, drugs and rock n' roll subjects common to the L.A. sleaze metal scene, but more one that is levied at his songwriting as being lazy and derivative. Truth be told, there is a derivative element to much of the material W.A.S.P. put out in the mid 80s, but no less so than a number of American bands who discovered Judas Priest and Motorhead and realized that you could play faster and heavier than AC/DC, though Blackie definitely kept more of a musical affinity with the much lauded fold of Aussie hard rockers than many of his contemporaries. Case and point "The Last Command", this band's sophomore outing, and arguably the most overtly 80s of all their offerings.
One thing that immediately pops out at any ear familiar with the debut and subsequent W.A.S.P. albums is the multiplicity of ballads, complete with enough effective hooks to keep an endless sea of lighters ablaze till kingdom come. "Wild Child" was actually my introduction to this band in a now bygone day of my youth, and its heavily infectious chorus and more hard rocking character definitely points to something along the lines of Quiet Riot with a slight hint of Dio. On the other end of things is a more somber and ironically deeper take in "Cries In The Night", which finds itself nestled pretty nicely between Twisted Sister's "The Price" and a number of ballads out of Dokken, though Blackie's garbled shrieks listen closer to a neurotic Brian Johnson locked in conflict with himself rather than the lovelorn croon of Don Dokken or the slightly dirtier yet hardly agonized character of Dee Snyder.
Other offerings on here have a comparatively mellow and restrained quality when measured against the raucous character of, say , Accept or Judas Priest, but still play to an animated arena feel. In the mid-tempo department are a couple of repeat listeners fit for 80s rock radio in "Blind In Texas" and "Ballcrusher", both exuding the stereotypical themes of drinking and screwing that one would associate with Motley Crue, while the former has more of an overt blues/rock character that ultimately proved to be a stronger sell to the alcoholic masses of the day, though I'm sure it pissed off those PMRC pansies just as much as any of the sex-charged stuff found on here. Along for the ride is an obvious though well done nod to Judas Priest on "Jack Action", which basically tells the tale of a guy on a quest for vengeance to a riff set fairly similar to "You've Got Another Thing Coming".
It's tough to lose with any of the songs found on here, as each one was specifically crafted to be concise and to ram the point home, making it thus an accessible listen, though its sense of controversy has since become a bit dated. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of this album, apart from Blackie's incredibly sleazy vocal approach (this is where Chitty Somapala likely got most of his inspiration), is the signature guitar work of Chris Holmes, who manages to channel a similarly showy lead persona to that of Tipton and Downing, while also coming off as a bit more mellow and bluesy, almost to the point of becoming like Chris Poland. It's a bit less formulaic and a bit more appealing than Mick Mars' lead work, but not quite as chaotic as that of Vivian Campbell. Particularly on "Fistful Of Diamonds", Holmes manages to deliver some stellar licks without taking over the entire song.
The appeal of this album will likely fall more towards early metal fans, namely that of early 80s rocking metal in the mold of Judas Priest's "Screaming For Vengeance" and Manowar's "Battle Hymns", in fact, at times the Dokken-like half-ballad "Widow Maker" almost listens like it took a few cues from a number of Manowar's longer, slower offerings, particularly during the dreary yet epic intro. But it will definitely involve an adjusted ear to fully grasp if one is coming from an understanding of heavy metal after the ratcheted up aggression that was brought in with "Painkiller" and U.D.O.'s "Timebomb". While I don't necessarily agree that Blackie Lawless could do no wrong, he was doing very little wrong at this point in his career.
Funny thing about sophomore albums. They tend to go either way, either being that great record that does acrobatic flips over the previous work, or, in the case of WASP's "The Last Command", has a hard time touching that no-holds-barred greatness on the freshman outing. That being said, "The Last Command" is certainly no bad album, no far from it. It just lacks a little of this and little of that that made the debut so wildly entertaining. The attitude is there, but the group feels more restrained in delivery. There's some solid hooks, good (if not better) riffage, and a few nice choruses to boot, but overall "The Last Command" is more lacking and pedestrian than its predecessor.
The group still remains strong in their performances, if not a bit more improved in overall technicality. Blackie Lawless's bass is still barely audible, but that's not why we (mostly) love Blackie, eh? He still rips it up with his scorching, quasi-hoarse yells and bellows, and the world of rock is all the better for it. What kills me though is that he seems more restrained this time around, as opposed to the "fuck/kill/drink everything in way" attitude he had on the debut. A major improvement is marked with the guitar work of Chris Holmes, who was already pretty damn good on the debut album. Here his solos are serious scorchers, longer and more intricate, while his taste for riffage has tightened as well. Randy Piper returns to work the rhythm guitar, sounding a bit stronger himself. He's also mixed a bit higher this time around, which is good because the dark, tense tone of his guitar is one of my favorite aspects of this record. Steve Riley replaces Tony Richards on the kit, but frankly you wouldn't know, as they both give the same dependable but standard drum work on both records, though Riley throws a few good rolls and fills around more often.
One of the things that made the WASP debut so palpable was the delectable variety of songs, and despite the more restrained atmosphere, the same is still true here. But unlike the debut, which had an entire album of songs that totally fucking rocked, "The Last Command" puts up a few lesser numbers, and even some downright clunkers. Case in point, the ballad "Cries In The Night"; it's a pretty standard and uninteresting song, totally lacking that mood and, again, attitude that made something like "Sleeping (In The Fire)" so strong. Then a number of other songs just come and go, not bad but pretty forgettable. Would-be mid-paced chugger "Jack Action", the guitar-strong but average title track, and failed arena rocker "Fistful of Diamonds", complete with a big ol' chorus, are all just missing, and I mean JUST missing, those fun, maniac riffs and choruses that made numbers like "On Your Knees" or "Fuck Like A Beast" so untamed and memorable.
It's not all bad though, as there are still a fair number of good tracks to go around. The opener, live favorite "Wild Child", is a neat and moody mid-paced rocker that has a cool mix of ballady and more heavy-duty metal moments, as well as some guitar melodies that remind one of a later band called Gun 'N' Roses. Another live favorite can be found in the beer-worshiping anthem, "Blind In Texas"; this a damn fun song, with loads of energy, fun lyrics and great riffage thrown around. "Widowmaker" is kinda interesting, a boiling, atmospheric number with intriguing apocalyptic lyrics, even if they don't totally make sense ("the lord of the wings"? What?!). I'd say the two tracks which harken back to the work on the first album would be "Ballcrusher" and "Sex Drive", pair of aggressive, pounding sex speeders that'll pound your cock into dust!
Overall, "The Last Command" is a good enough metal album, but it comes up short. The bandmates are arguably better but restrain their attitude, making the songs less in your face and fun. Most of the songs themselves are pretty passable, if not particularly memorable. Some of the tracks I mentioned are quite worthwhile, and while I do recommend "The Last Command" I only recommend it lightly. Don't expect a buzzsaw face-fucking like the first time around, and maybe you'll like it more than me.
While W.A.S.P.'s debut and "The Headless Children" may be the favorite albums of fans and critics, it is this second effort that remains one of the their most commercially successful to date. It was also their first album to feature drummer Steve Riley as well as the last to feature guitarist Randy Piper until the new millennium.
As others have pointed out, this album's musical style isn't too far off from the debut though there have been a few changes brought in since then. The production isn't quite as raw as before and there are a number of style innovations brought in on songs like "Widowmaker" and "Cries In The Night." Of course, I have no idea why people think "Wild Child" has ballad influences. It may be a melodic track but it completely lacks the somber or "soft" touches that are common in songs of that nature. Maybe it's just me...
Whatever the case, there are several different styles represented on here in addition to the slower tracks ("Widowmaker," "Cries In The Night"). You've got your upbeat rockers ("Wild Child," "Ballcrusher," "The Last Command," "Running Wild In The Streets"), borderline speed metal numbers ("Fistful Of Diamonds," "Blind In Texas," "Sex Drive"), and a chugging track in the vein of "You've Got Another Thing Coming" by Judas Priest ("Jack Action"). "Wild Child" is an obvious classic though just about every track manages to be fun and enjoyable.
The band's performance is also pretty solid though it is clear that vocalist/bassist Blackie Lawless is running the show here. His raspy vocals are what truly stand out with the band itself focusing more so on delivering the hooks than a technically flashy performance. There are times where I wish the guitars were a little higher in the mix but I think that has to be do with the production more so than any truly bad performances.
The lyrics, arguably the most infamous aspect of W.A.S.P.'s career in addition to the stage shows, haven't really changed too much since the debut. Mostly focusing on sex, drugs and violence (You thought I was going to say rock 'n roll, didn't you?), the lyrics are mostly mindless fun that will go over the heads of the easily offended. "Ballcrusher" immediately comes to mind with its particularly raunchy lines ("Lesbo nymphomaniac, ooh, she's got a girlfriend that's seventeen"). Not exactly gangsta rap but something like it...
All in all, this is a pretty strong album that does a good job of disassociating the band from the dreaded hair metal scene. Definitely a great album for parties, driving with the windows rolled down, and whatever else it is that crazy people do these days.
My Current Favorites:
"Wild Child," "Widowmaker," "Blind In Texas," "Cries In The Night," and "Running Wild In The Streets"
After an explosive debut, WASP set out to make their sophmore effort with "The Last Command." Blackie and the boys took what they did right from their debut and made it more focused and polished. It is more mature too, but is has all the nastiness that only Blackie Lawless could deliver.
The album opens with a killer track and one of the tops WASP has ever written. It is a ballad at heart, but it also has the heaviness and catchiness that few ballads could ever achieve. It has strong hook right from the get go and it has an epic feeling to it, even though it is not really an epic song. The song was originally meant for Motley Crue and it is a good thing Blackie kept it for WASP as it is a great opener.
After that, the straight-ahead rockers start with "Ball Crusher" and well, it has a ball crushing riff. The guitars on this record sound very raunchy and sleazy and adds to the effect that WASP created and set them apart from others. "Jack Action" has a neat lead riff from Chris Holmes and is another highlight on the record. Other cuts are just pure fun like "Blind in Texas", which is awesome to party to "Running Wild in the Streets", which is a nice sing-along-song.
There are also a couple other ballad type songs in "Widowmaker" and "Cries in the Night." The former has a doomy riff which leads into Blackie wailing "I'm the Widowmaker." That vocal part is chilling enough to make you tremble with fear. "Cries in the Night" is more of a standard affair and grows quite boring.
Other tracks like "Fistful of Diamonds" and "Sex Drive" bring out what can be considered the glam side of the band. They are fun songs and enjoyable listens, but not really remarkable. The last classic that can be found though is the title track. It has a chorus that is impossible not to sing with and has an awesome driving riff that pounds throughout the whole song and never lets up.
With this album, WASP showed why they were the real deal. With standouts "Wild Child", "Jack Action" and "Widowmaker"; this is a record any WASP fan or pure heavy lover would want. Blackie's wailing vocals, heavy and dirty riffs, Chris Holmes snarling lead guitar, and a brutal assualt on the eardrums makes this a classic.
This is definitely one of THE Wasp albums for me. I've listened to it for many years, and was the album that really introduced me to the band. This album is surprisingly consistent and shows even more maturity with the band from their debut. While I'll admit some aspects of this album are more on the hard rock/glam side of the band, Blackie Lawless still manages to make a very competent metal album with plenty of heavy riffs and fucking balls to accent it!
Wild Child is half ballad/half ballsy song which introduced me to the band. When I first heard this I did not appreciate it as much as I should, but over the years I realize this song is incredibly deep and definitely a very well written metal semi-ballad song, and incredibly catchy. Very deep and sincere song from a band that often gets lumped into the LA glam party scene.
Many tracks on this album are incredibly memorable. No one whose heard this album a few times in their life can't disagree to not having tracks like "Wild Child" "Blind in Texas" "The Last Command" "Running Wild in the Streets" stuck in their head from time to time.
This album also contains a lot of heavy riffs quite worthy of 1984. I remember first hearing tracks like "Jack Action" "Ballcrusher" "Blind in Texas" etc and just wanting to rock out and bang your head. This band still had the traditional heavy metal sound to them.
This is definitely one of the albums that any true metal head should own. Even if you love black, death, thrash...it's impossible not to appreciate what these guys have done. Excellent and focused songwriting, some powerful and memorable tracks, and more balls than most metal produced these days!
Take all the problems from the first album, fix them, and you pretty much have The Last Command. It’s a colossal effort that outshines the previous release and sets the bar very, very high for subsequent outputs. It’s got more emotion, soul, and vigor than the debut, which now makes this what: Classic? Legendary? Godlike? I dunno, one of those (or all of them) seems to be correct. Look at this tracklist: “Wild Child,” “Jack Action,” “Blind In Texas,” – those three alone obliterate the glam scene and help distance W.A.S.P. from those forgettable, clichéd bands that are all show and no play. Between the first five albums in what I consider the band’s Golden Age, I’d say (even while wearing a saw blade codpiece), that this album is on that classifies the '80s.
Production is so much better on this one than the debut; no more “distant” atmosphere, that’s for sure. Blackie on bass sounds great, giving more muscle and helping the production rid of any thin aspects. The bass lines generally follow the riff rhythm, but with more attention during key moments (primarily bridges) it’ll carry on it’s own weight trying to perform something more noticeable. Generally I’m a huge fan of bass independence, but the leads are really the real deal here. Holy mango juice and eggnog barbecue burger with cheese, ketchup, and fries while listening to Entombed’s Clandestine - the leadwork here is some of the best in the genre.
There are no fillers here; every song engages you in one way or another. Lawless’ focus is imaginative, with full devotion and passion instilled with better songwriting. Surely, the songs are still simple if you want to compare it to Necrophagist, but that’s what W.A.S.P. are best at. You want catchy, fun, lively, and concert worthy tracks? Then you really don’t need to look any further. Lyrically they’re still aiming towards partying, sex, relationships, and 1980s culture, but the way it’s done here compared to the last album is actually more solemn and interests the listener moreso than before. The best examples are in the more somber tracks, no less, and that’s exactly where we begin. “Wild Child” is sort of a semi-ballad, but it’s got more guts, glory, and depth to it than most any glam metal song. Blackie has never had such a more convincing vocal performance to my ears throughout W.A.S.P.’s 80s career, and I doubt I’m alone in saying that. His voice still retains that hoarse howl, but he sounds so sincere, sensitive, and pulls the listener in because he really gives a shit about what he’s singing.
Aside from admiration of the above track, Lawless gives no less than an A+ performance throughout the album. It isn’t the sole reason why all the tracks have more life to them, but it plays an invaluable role. He’ll scream, cry, bark, and chat with that grainy, sort of beastly yell on the album, leaving no breath left inhaled. For that reason, the choruses on every track are also incredibly melodic and fun to sing along to, which only further compliments the (more) serious verses. Also notice that Lawless sings in a rather southern-tinged style, be it for hospitable reasons or because it sounds awesome with this kind of music.
Once again I’m not too surprised to say that I can’t really delve into the drumming. It’s still the standard rhythm punching style that helps retain the colorful style of the music, but it's pratically the same pattern for every song! It’s your typical 80s echo kit, sounding crisper than on the debut, but that should always be a given. Away from the drums, the standout (with boots filled with booze) is the leadwork by Holmes and Piper, which is probably the best duo (for this album alone) to carry on the Downing / Tipton torch. “Wild Child” and “Cries In The Night” are the more personal and dynamic tracks, “Fistful Of Diamonds” and “Jack Action” are more driving, “Mississippi Queen,” “Blind In Texas,” and “Sex Drive” are the fun ones, and the title track and “Running Wild In The Streets” have leads that soar higher than the highest points of history’s many civilizations.
Not many people talk about it, but the title track is easily the best one on the album. While the other songs tend to accomplish one trait, “The Last Command” draws influences from all of them, culminating in my favorite riff on the album, brought together with commanding drumming and grouped with the most anthem of choruses. Solos don’t let up either, adapting themselves to their respective tracks while preserving their raunchy harmony.
Releasing this album didn’t exactly split W.A.S.P. from the glam / hair scene, but it established them pretty well in heavy metal as their own force to be reckoned with. Not until The Headless Children would W.A.S.P. truly sever their ties with the bullshit glam genre, but it’s a joke denying that this didn’t leave a blade mark. Give it a listen and go apeshit as I did – exaggeration plays a big role in curiosity, but only bullshit can go so far.
It's official. W.A.S.P. can do some wrong. Unlike the explosion of their debut, this album seems like W.A.S.P. are just enjoying whatever excesses they were expereincing at the time, and merely put out this album as a way to support their current habits, not putting that much thought into the music itself. And when Blackie ran out of song ideas, he stole from whatever he could scrape up.
The two most obvious examples of this here are Jack Action and Blind In Texas. The former is a rippoff of "You've Got Another Thing Comin". Blackie, Glenn Tiption and KK Downing called, "We wrote that song first. Get over it." And this would not be the last time he would pull this stunt either. He would do this again even moreso on "Rebel in the FDG" on Headless Children (though it is one of the better songs on that album, but we aren't talking about that one right now). "Blind In Texas" isn't so much a ripoff, but it does sound like the ending piece to Zeppelin's "How Many More Times" was snuck in as the beginning and the end of the song. Unlike Suck Action however, this is fun to listen too.
Besides the aforementioned "BIT" the only other good songs on here are "Wild Child" and "Sex Drive". Wild Child has a catchy intro lick, and the rest of the song is fun too, but one might find themselves asking the question "What is this, hair metal?" Sex Drive has a cool riff set at the very end, and the rest of it seems like a jacked up KISS number.
The rest? Mediocre. Ballcrusher starts off nice, but then along comes the "bye bye bye Ballcrusher" chorus, which is the most retarded chorus I have ever heard. Widowmaker suffers the same problem. "I'm the Widowmaker, the lord of the wings." Um, what? Fistful Of Diamonds is ok, but in the middle they pause randomly just to hear some guy ramble on about diamonds. If I wanna the music to stop so I could hear about Diamonds, I'd turn off the iPod and watch Diamonds are Forever (007), fool.
Then, The Last Command, Running Wild In The Streets, and Cries In the Night, all just seem to come up short. Blackie has written and would surprisingly go on to & write better ballads than the latter (Sleeping In the Fire & Forever Free). The other two sound like they would be much better if they were sped up some ala Hellion (what's with the lack of Speed metal songs on here anyway? Blackie wrote more ballads that don't add much to his catalogue on here).
One more thing, Chris Holmes can do much better guitar solos than the ones on here. None of them are really all that memorable, the bare exception being Blind In Texas.
In conclusion, ditch this bullshit. Black Lawless once joked that if he wrote better music he wouldn't have to be so over the top in his stage show. Not that there is anything wrong with throwing meat at drunken poseurs who are there just to hear your singles, but I have never heard Blackie make a more honest statement.
W.A.S.P.'s self-titled debut was an amazing album, and featured some true classics of 80's heavy metal. But the follow-up, The Last Command, somehow manages to be even better!
The basis is pretty much the same- the classic heavy metal energy and power, complemented by raw vocals and heavy riffs at the forefront, and totally over the top lyrics. But this time around, the production and songwriting is less raw and heavy, which in turn gives some more variety in the songwriting and also lets the magnificent melodies stand out more than on the debut. This is apparent right from the melodic, ballad-ish (though it totally explodes during the chorus) opening track Wild Child, which is one of the albums definite highlights.
Once again, there is also great variation to be found in the songwriting while keeping the power and feeling on high. Ballcrusher, Sex Drive and Running Wild In The Streets are all pretty damn fast and pretty damn excellent, especially the later with it's anthemic chorus and awesome riffs.
Then there is some midpaced stuff like the melodic title track and the atmospheric, groovy Widowmaker. And another ballad is to be found on this album entitled Cries In The Night. It's no Sleeping In The Fire, but pretty damn good on it's own. Outstanding factors are great chorus and solo, but it totally works on all levels really.
This album is totally awesome all through, with just one exception, that being Jack Action. As already mentioned, the simplistic and catchy riffwork is pretty similar to Priest's You've Got Another Thing Comin', but somehow they don't manage to make it work. The vocal lines are also pretty average, and the song comes off as rather forgettable, at least when compared to songs like Wild Child. Which brings us to the large amount of highlights found here. As I've mentioned, Wild Child is one of the definite highs. So is Fistful of Diamonds, with one of their most dead-on choruses ever and some crazy soloing. Blind In Texas is the ultimate drinking song, and is insanely catchy. And finally, the second best W.A.S.P. song ever, second only to Hellion- The Last Command. The melodic verses, the anthemic, overwhelming chorus, the powerful lyrics... It captures the essence of heavy metal like nothing else.
The remastered version of the album also features a shitload of bonus tracks. Seven of them, to be precise. First off, we have an excellent cover of Mississippi Queen, followed by Savage, a wicked speed metal tune very much in the vein of Show No Mercy off the debut. The rest is all live stuff, and while the performances are all solid the mixing is very weak and the guitars are way too low. Still, pretty fun stuff.
The Last Command brings much more melody in the mix, and while the rawness is still there, it's not as much a key factor as it was on the debut. Which like I said makes room for more spectacular songwriting. Definitely the best of their 'party metal'-era, consisting of the first three. If you like the traditional kind of heavy metal, this is a must-have.
Yes, it is official... WASP can do no wrong. This is more excellent 80s heavy metal from the undisputed masters. No one, and I mean no one has such a dead-on sense of melody as these guys.
We start off with the half-ballad half-rocker Wild Child. Whatever it is, it works remarkably well. Then, Ballcrusher is the fastest, most furious song on here, and possibly out of everything that they had on the first 3 albums. Jack Action has that great main riff, that sounds a bit like You've Got Another Thing Coming. That's the great thing about WASP - you can always start to anticipate something really cool coming up in the song, and they never EVER fail to disappoint.
Side B features highlights like Blind in Texas, which is a whole barrel of fun, the excellent ballad Cries in the Night, and then the blitzkrieg of the last three songs... they get faster and faster, from The Last Command to... we're screaming loud, Running Wild in the Streets! Then finally, Sex Farm!
err... Sex Drive! See "Eat Me Alive" for the other example of grossly twisted sexual lyrics that work so fucking well in the context of speed metal... Hell, WASP is the expert at this, with "On Your Knees", "Fuck Like a Beast", etcetcetc.
More classic stuff from this band. Highly recommended!