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California, the 1980s. Oh dear, it must've been sad to see burgeoning bad boys like Slayer, Metal Church or Exodus buried under the growing cloud of choking hairspray, the stench of not-so-form-fitting spandex, and the disturbing sideshow attraction of women's makeup splattered across the crooked mugs of full-grown men crooning about Friday nights and losing that one girl. Fucking...BLECH! Ratt, Motley Crue, Poison, Dokken, all offenders of the growing scourge of wimpified rock known as "glam" and nowhere was it more prevalent than L.A.. Was there any a band out there who'd stand up against these sissy titans? Who could survive the scene and still make a name for themselves?!
Well, in the early days of glam four madmen stood forth. Led by a dark, intense fellow of redwood stature, they would make themselves stand out against the makeup-stained crowd. THEY...ARE...W.A.S.P.! Spell it wrong and I wouldn't wanna be you! WASP, here drunkenly, madly swaying with their self-titled debut, were an L.A. shock rock group that drew considerably more from the raw world of traditional heavy metal rather than sappy, radio-friendly hard rock. Yes, WASP did indeed shock with their ballsy anthems of sex, violence, and of course drinking hardy, and today "WASP" still stands as probably the best debut album from any metal/rock group out of '80s Los Angeles.
The towering madman leading the group on their quest of meat-tossing, girl-whipping chaos is none other than one Blackie Lawless, providing bass and vocals. While I'm not a huge fan of the man himself, Blackie has nonetheless put forth commendable effort on his vocals here He gives a rousing, powerhouse series of booming howls and semi-hoarse yells that would easily make a Poison fanboy piss his unnecessarily-tight little spandex panties in fright! Chris Holmes rises up on lead guitars, he himself a hell of a good guitarist, making his wavy, screaming solos and sense of riffage look easy. Randy Piper backs Holmes up with a solid, if not terribly noteworthy rhythm guitar assault. Drummer Tony Richard (on his only WASP record) puts forth a workman-like, but unassuming effort into his kit, giving an effective, but typical backbone to the songs. Blackie's low-mixed bass adds little to the sound as well. Considering his ego-maniacal attitude, I'm surprised he didn't throw a fit about it.
All of the songs on "WASP" flat out rock in some way or another, offering up a diverse plate of simplistic, yet engaging riffage, vocal work, and solos. A few songs are more typical of the L.A. scene, if not still stronger than most of the bile being churned out at the time. Take the sex anthem "B.A.D." with its hooky chorus and darkly orgasmic lyrics; yes, typical of the day, but WASP's riffage and take-no-prisoner attitude turn it from glam fodder into a spirited heavy metal romp. The same goes for the syrupy, but oh so catchy grooves of "L.O.V.E. Machine" and the bruising "school sux!" motif of the fun "School Daze", but when WASP turns up the metal, that's when shit really gets good on here.
Proper opener "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)" is the sex song to end all sex songs, a mid-paced pounder with a raging chorus that'll not only make you wanna fuck your woman, but fuck her stupid! HELL YEAH! The carnage continues with the swift up-tempo speed metal of fan favorite "I Wanna Be Somebody", the whirlwind intensity of "Hellion", and the slow-ish, evil stomping of "Tormentor". "On Your Knees" remains a personal favorite for its gnarly mid-paced aesthetics, cool throwaway riffs, and the chorus's belligerent backing vocals.
Overall, "WASP" is a hell of a debut and THE end-all example of 80s L.A. metal done right. The bandmates, especially Blackie and Holmes, put forth unholy energy and attitude that easily turn the scenesters of the day into quivering puddles. The songs, from the ballad "Sleeping (In The Fire)" to the cruel intensity of closer "The Torture Never Stops", all burn with mighty, memorable attitude and riffage.
If you fancy yourself a fan of traditional American heavy metal, particularly that of the ballsy and controversial type, then get a hold of "WASP" now! If you refuse, then I'll have no choice but to fuck you like a beast....
What W.A.S.P. has going for them here is a solid debut that falls short of being a genuine listen due to it’s replayability. Most metal artists attempt to distance themselves from the basic song structure and hope to define themselves in another way, but W.A.S.P. excel so well at this simple structure with catchy choruses, thrilling leadwork, and thriving energy. Somehow this formula never dies down – like an everlasting flame or an everflowing stream. You never get tired of hearing songs about sex, partying, and 1980s culture from W.A.S.P.’s perspective. Overall, the album is enjoyable, but not entirely memorable or standout such as subsequent classics. Tracks reign from staples to just decent songs, but I’m not sure if it’s the production or lack of generally focused songwriting that help out the songs. For instance, “School Daze” and “B.A.D.” are both songs worthy of staying on this album with workable choruses, but there’s nothing interesting about them besides filling in the album. I’m not criticizing W.A.S.P. of failing to make every song a classic like “I Wanna Be Somebody” or help stir controversy like “Animal (Fuck Like A Beast),” but the songs don’t hit me with either the lead or the raunchy vocals.
Not only that, but most of the songs blend in together to make a very one-dimensional face, which was typical of the glam metal scene and it’s mostly straightforward clique of bands. Lawless doesn’t have as much emotion poured into every track like he would on The Last Command and The Crimson Idol, thus making this album feel less compelling than the rest. Of all the tracks, the only one that taps into my heart would be “Sleeping (In The Fire)” with it’s expressive writing, mournful vocals, and lustful composition. It’s the only song on the album I’d call a “ballad” or sorts, but it’s that kind of songwriting that’s missing from the formula – again these elements would be fixed easily on subsequent albums.
The band themselves play their instruments well enough for the music they need to play, and production aids in the process for the time being. I’m sure it isn’t my copy alone, but the whole album feels a little airy, with bass struggling to be heard through the fog and the group sounding almost like they’re performing at a concert. It doesn’t have abysmal concert qualities, but you feel as though the band sounds distant. While I can’t hear the bass that well, Lawless’ vocals are all but unheard. This man has some of the most unique vocals I’ve ever heard – they’re fresh, angry, coarse, but at the same time emotional. He doesn’t sing like you’re average Dickinson or Tate clone – nay, he has his own heavy metal grunt cut out for him, and the music really couldn’t compliment him any better. It’s with these vocals that the music sounds more vigorous and engaging than most heavy metal, so you’ll feel active and alive every time you hear them.
It’s hard to comment on anything the drums can’t do, since it’s pretty much just consistent rhythm drumming with that distinct 80s thumping and thudding. They’re quickly overshadowed by the alluring and hard rocking leadwork that really propels this group into the arena. Riffs are hard-pressed, aggressive, melodic, and have more sensation vibrating off them that when the solos hit, it’ll be like taking a sweet sip of mango juice – like I’m doing right now… mmmmmmm… Go check out the other reviews if you want a breakdown of the songs themselves or recommendations. I know everyone talks about “L.O.V.E. Machine” and yes it’s also one of my favorites since it’s got such a glittering verse / chorus trade-off, but there are others to look into. Its an enjoyable album outright, but not as stunning as later albums. How stunning and what later albums, you say?
Scroll all the way down this page, click W.A.S.P.’s page, and then scroll down until you see The Last Command - Click that shit!
So this here, really, ranks right up there in the best debut albums in metal. Up there with the debuts by Metallica, Slayer, Savatage, Iron Maiden, and yes, even Exodus. In fact this is more less what one would have found in Metallica (circa "Kill 'Em All") had they worshipped Alice Cooper and KISS alongside their Sabbath, Priest and NWOBHM influences. Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is gruesome, grotesque, and ultimately, fun Heavy Metal theatrics with no lack of balls.
Now before we try and look into this intellectually, we have to remember that W.A.S.P. has never tried to be a "smart" band. W.A.S.P. is just about the juvenile, testosterone fuelled anger of the 13-18 age group of the time. But what W.A.S.P. does, it does VERY well. Blackie Lawless is a Masterful writer of lyrics and representative of the alienated teenaged misfit in all true metalheads. I'm not gonna bother with track by track analysis, I'll just focus on the best and the worst
The album opens in almost speed metal fashion with "I Wanna Be Somebody". Definitely a great way to open and album, even if it follows the cliche of "fast song first" that seems to run through alot of metal albums. A great lyrical representation of every teenager's yearning to get out. Pure Metal!
The next is again the cliche of "Second song has the lots of groove" but that doesn't detract from "L.O.V.E. Machine" in the least. This is quite possibly where Blackie's vocals shine through the most on the whole album, making his technique seem so powerful and so effortless all at once.
"B.A.D." could have very easily been a ballad, but instead is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Heartbreaking lyrics but songcraft that is pissed off and dark, almost like Priest was around this time (Defenders of the Faith). Blackie's voice really showing a tortured side and the song containing one of Chris Holme's best solos on the album.
"Hellion" is to my mind the fastest mother on the album but still doesn't fall short of being a hulking BEHEMOTH of riffs! The lyrics are kind of abstract but sort of sound like something you'd find on a Venom album (perhaps slightly less demonic). This is an absolute classic! BANG THY HEAD!
Really there is a bad song on this album. Not even a song that’s less than very good (save perhaps for “The Flame” which is still good). This is in no small part due to the sizzling production job on the thing. Everything is audible and everything is razor-sharp.
So at the end of the day, the album reminds us that A) not everything from L.A. sucked and B) W.A.S.P. were the biggest, raunchiest, baddest band of misfits and miscreants on the block. Hail Blackie Lawless!
“…I am the lord of liars and I command the force of fire…”
Did they look cheesy? No more or less than anyone else at the time. Were they glam? A few of the song titles are iffy and something of a ballad leered with “Sleeping (in the Fire)”, but I don’t see any Aquanet cans lying around, so I’d say nay. The cover's full skeleton looks fresh outta the warehouse box, but overall the sleeve's passably menacing for the time. Blackie’s acerbic lungs are enough to carve a canyon between W.A.S.P. and shake-yer-butt rock, so why were many writers throwing it into the glam pit? With thrash having so few soldiers thus far to be known and normal .38 Special-ish rock being too placid a style for this, and when a major like Capitol/EMI is sending out promos, the bulk of metal/rock writers hearing this wrote for mainstream rags, so basically it was for lack of a better place to stick ‘em. Some relatively on-the-ball writers offered the truthful assessment that the quartet wrote swarthy metal underscored with pop sensibility. After you stop cringing from the ‘pop’ notion, you’ll notice that most of the debut’s tracks are structured with just that sentiment – adaptable, chesty, openly catchy, and with sexually transmitted mainstream lyrics, however blunted with a meaner, jagged edge...and much of that edge is barbed by Blackie’s vocals. Prior to W.A.S.P., Blackie’s claim to fame is the fifteen days he spent with The New York Dolls in ’74. To further date the guy, it's said he was in a street gang with Ace Frehley. Needless to say, he wasn’t some pimply teenager when these songs were penned, and the rock mentality he grew up with is stealthily mixed into the brew without it sounding like Ted Nugent.
In addition, more conceivable anthems decorate this ten tracker than just about any other lp I can recall (especially if you have the remastered cd with “Animal” on it), and the songwriting is probably just the speed and texture Blackie wanted. It’s a baneful, radio-worthy effort quite heavier than Def Leppard’s Pyromania, is probably on par with Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry, and takes Great White’s debut lp and flings it into the fire.
There’s barely four seconds of music before the first of two anthems comes hither and Blackie’s pipes start fuming. “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “L.O.V.E. Machine” are infectious extra-sticky webs that ensnarl the listener’s attention almost immediately. Stand-on-your-seat-and-shout choruses are mighty right and left crosses while the tracks take turns driving with main rhythms that are animated either quickly-picked or powerfully slow. Structurally they’re completely different, but both convey a communicable drama that makes them (and “Animal”) their best known tunes. Toning down the flow a bit is the more conventional chorus-heavy “The Flame”, which leads into an even more ‘relaxed’ “B.A.D.”, a song some say is filler, but the chorus is decent enough in its depressive nature to warrant more than a few whirls.
The most commercial is “School Daze”, another possible anthem, and its Diamond Dave-era Van Halen intro; there must be something about school defiance and teacher humping that galvanizes bands from the aforementioned to The Ramones to Anvil to Venom to delve into the subject. Sure, I worked in a school system for fourteen years, and while the kids were always ten years old and younger, the teachers weren’t, and I wasn’t the kind of maintenance guy they were used to seeing, so I can see the songs’ reasoning from a different angle. Despite its commercialism, it’s a fairly viable piece of writing that doesn’t skimp on catchiness, but the end of side one would’ve made a dandy place for the strident b-side “Show No Mercy” which can be found on the righteous Animal single.
Now that they’ve got you hooked, they can summon more of the stormbringers. Three fast-paced hellbenders command the flip side and sandwich the compelling burn of “Tormentor” and the strategically-placed “Sleeping (in the Fire)”, a softer number that, due to Blackie's scorched lungs that whisper sweet nothings into no one's ear, should've come off more unsure of itself than it does, and while the bleakness is there (like most near-ballads), it leans more toward an impending peril/“Waiting For Darkness”/Ozzy nuance.
“Hellion” starts the side determined enough and is weighted with a strong, chapped-chorded, hard-to-miss chorus that barely saves a prisoner. Following “Sleeping (in the Fire)” is “On Your Knees”, a deadly track decked out with a chorus stringent with relentless backing vocal action. More ominous is the chain-rattling “Tormentor", bearer of a dispirited chorus and scalding solo that spears in all directions at the end. “The Torture Never Stops” is a fine semi-galloping finale which features antagonized vocals charging into a rage-impassioned chorus, finalizing on the electrified ends of the album's last solo.
While the songs aren’t a complex lot, the solid ground crew of guitarists Chris Holmes and Randy Piper and drummer Tony Richards pivot with the action they’re creating with ease whether it be driven or standing idle, and it's not surprising when Holmes and Piper unleash solos that can frequently sear rhino hide.
So, “Animal” wasn’t a fluke and the band would go on to release a bunch of albums. Call this stuff shock rock or flash metal, but please don’t call it glam. Call it traditional or even power metal, but not the dubious G. Hanoi Rocks and Kix this isn’t.
“…the gods you worship are steel, at the altar of rock and roll you kneel…”
Gawd...this was one of the first albums I bought with my own money waaaaay back in the day! Alongside Quiet Riot's "Metal Health", Def Leppard's "Pyromania", and Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast", this ranks as one of my earliest exposures to metal music, and I loved it! It's trashy, raw, ugly, heavy as hell for the time, and damned if it didn't wrap itself into one hellacious package of devastating riffs, pounding drums, and Blackie Lawless' highly distinctive and unique vocals--ain't nobody out there sounds like the Black One. His style doesn't always work, but I give him credit for being unique, with his ugly yelling and screaming suiting their approach nothing but perfectly. Here are my fave tunes on this album:
"I Wanna Be Somebody" starts off the proceedings with a powerful drum roll and then the guitarslaught begins, with Blackie's vocals wasting little time entering the fray in authoritative fashion. They had a nice thick guitar sound that holds up well today, and even though Blackie's bass is buried a bit, he acquits himself well, nailing down the backbeat on every song hard and strong. The soloing is adequate on most of the tunes, but Piper and Holmes were never known as technicians, and their quirky leads have an identity of their own.
"L.O.V.E. Machine" has hokey lyrics but an undeniable pop sensibility in the writing--in fact, all the songs on here are outstandingly catchy underneath the walls of guitars and the nails-on-blackboard vocals.
"The Flame" is one of the best tunes on here, an uptempo blaster perfect for playing loud on the stereo as you go cruising with the top down, pissing off all the jocks and mundanes as you drive by them in retribution for all the times they drove by screaming insults at you. A good one to scream along with on the chorus!
"Sleeping In The Fire" is a ballad with a moving, bluesy solo and a simple acoustic part, and Blackie's vocals get as pretty as they get on this album--not very, but a touch more melodic than most of the time. Downright pretty, dare I say it.
"Tormentor" crushes with its thunderous drums and crunching riffs, and outro is mildly disturbing with its groans and demented soloing--more noises than actual leads. The bridge before the solo section proper has Blackie laying it down as only he can: "I am the Lord of LI-AAAAAARRRRSSSS!!!", screaming his head off.
"On Your Knees" is a proto-speed metal tune that will get your head banging furiously from start to finish, with great riffing and soloing throughout and especially on the rideout--if you listen closely right as it fades out, you can hear Blackie getting puzzled over something weird happening in the studio ("What th' fuck was THAT??").
"The Torture Never Stops" ends things on a high note with yet another catchy riff bringing it on and some of Blackie's most tortured (no pun intended!) screaming on the pre-chorus ("And YOOOUUUUUUU!!! You cry but no-one hears! Or cares!!!"). That ending was as wild as it got in the mainstream back then, frenzied leads and Tony Richards abusing his drums with all his might.
W.A.S.P. were not glam or a hair band, in fact they were and still are the antithesis of that whole lot! Heaviness and catchiness can coexist just fine in the same setting, and this album proves that true.
In the early 80s, when glam and hair metal were starting to bloom, Blackie Lawless (Steven Duren; the local bad boy (he actually got stabbed and went to jail or something) and the former member of New York Dolls) decided to form a band, which will play uncompromising heavy metal with balls like no other. And he really made it. W.A.S.P.'s debut is one of the heaviest records to date and surely has balls and kicks major ass.
And this can't be mistaken with glam or hair metal. Tell me, which glam band had blood, chainsaws, lyrics about torture and such controversy? Not to mention the music... Well? Yeah, thought so...
Blackie's vocals are simply astonishing. He has that special voice tone, which is like it was built for heavy metal. He also sounds very aggressive, which is really essential for this kind of a record. Riffs on here are a fucking wall of sound. Simple, but heavy as fuck, memorable and fun. Think Crüe's Shout At The Devil, only 100 times heavier. Guitar tone is also a killer. Especially on Animal. Solos are nicely done, they have a lot of melody... Drums and bass make a cool rhythm section, but really nothing else, that would be worth mentioning.
The album is really well balanced, so there aren't any bad songs, but there definitely are some great ones, which I have to mention.
Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) is the first song on the remaster... Oh, you're saying, that I have to review the original album? Well, this should by all means be on the first edition of the album, but the record company rejected it, 'cause it was too controversial... Well, never the less, this is amazing. A very memorable crusing first riff, which continues into catchy verses and a cool chorus.
I Wanna Be Somebody is probably the fastest song on the album. It's almost speed metal. Again, great catchy verses and chorus.
L.O.V.E. Machine is a bit softer, it's also probably the closest you'll get to glam on this record.
Hellion and On Your Knees are real anthems. Great, heavy choruses, excellent to sing along to. Concert staples for a long time now, even though Hellion isn't always on the setlist nowadays.
Sleeping (In The Fire) is the only real ballad on the album, but it's really cool. It doesn't get cheesy in any moment of it.
WASP is a great record, hands down. I can listen it for hours and hours and don't get bored of it. It's heavy metal in it's purest form and it's totally essential.
W.A.S.P.'s self-titled debut album is one of the ultimate essentials for any fan of traditional heavy metal. Right from the start they amazed the fans and shocked the record labels with their first and hugely successful single Animal (Fuck Like A Beast).
With this album, the band established themselves as a leading force in heavy metal. Vocalist Blackie Lawless has a very distinguishable voice. It's raw, dirty and mean, and totally works with the band. On this album, he also handles the bass duties. It mostly kinda gets drowned in the mix, but when it does appear (like on the verses of L.O.V.E. Machine- groovy shit!) it is awesome.
The riffwork on this album complements Blackie's vocals. It's raw, it's heavy, and it's intense. The drumming is pretty standard for this kind of music, and while not anything spectacular it just works very well.
The remastered version has an entirety of thirteen songs. There is the awesome speed metal track called Show No Mercy (which in fact is better than many of the albums original songs!) and a cover of Paint it Black, which also works very well. Also, we have the classic Animal (Fuck Like A Beast), which due to the boring Capitol Records people didn't make it on the original issue.
Here, however, it's received it's rightful place as the album's opener, and kicks the album off with raw riffage right away. From there on, it's all great stuff.
And while the spirit of metal, beer and sex and whatnot shines brightly throughout the entire album, there is also great variation found in the songwriting. There are the midpaced Fuck Like A Beast, B.A.D. and Tormentor, and then there is speed metal to be found, like I Wanna Be Somebody, Show No Mercy and On Your Knees, and then there is also a ballad called Sleeping (In The Fire), which they totally nail perfectly, with wicked soloing, great acoustic riffs and a hugely powerful chorus. All the songs have a unique style and feeling, yet maintains the same spirit and energy throughout, regardless of pace and songwriting style.
Most of the stuff on here is downright awesome, but there is one song that totally sticks out- Hellion. The best Wasp song ever. With awesome, intense speed metal riffs, memorable singalong vocal lines, hellraising lyrics and a totally crazy solo, this is a total classic and one of the best songs of heavy fucking metal, period. Other notable highlights are Fuck Like A Beast, the classic anthem I Wanna Be Somebody, School Daze and Sleeping (In The Fire), but it's all pretty damn good.
An essential album for any fan of traditional heavy metal, just like the four albums that followed it. Except maybe for Inside The Electric Circus, but that's another review...
When I first bought this album, I thought, 'oh good, I've got what I need, and I'll never need to buy another W.A.S.P. album again.' Not surprisingly enough, I was quite wrong.
This is the raw, rude, and nothing short of an amazing debut. With the exception of 'Animal (Fuck like a Beast)' it's actually quite overlooked in favor of a considerably less silly, more socially aware W.A.S.P.
This record is a tribute to the finer things in life - liquor, sex and rock n roll. As it seems, every song on the album (with the exception of 'I wanna be somebody' seems to be about sex. Even the ballad-ish type song, 'Sleeping (in the Fire)'. Also, every song mentions fire, which, the majority of the time, is some cute little metaphor for sex, but this unhealthy obsession with fire has continued throughout their entire career. It isn't done in a terrible, Cannibal Corpse-esque way though, their songs are written in a tasteful way, so that you'll cringe, but you'll keep listening. But some of the songs, unfortunately, will become a bit tiring after 100 + listens.
How something that revolves around such a gruesome (that may be a bit too strong of a word) topic I never would've imagined to have such a large impact on me. But just hearing the riff to 'The Torture Never Stops' makes my heart smile. It's just a good, fun album, with something for any type of listener (although, if you're having a more conservative person listen to it, you should tie them up first.)
I'd like to give it praise for snapping me out of my "WHEE! UNSKINNY BOP!" type of self, (now I don't yell that half as much). Thanks, W.A.S.P.!
The least you can say about Wasp is the fact that they managed to take the world by storm with their self-titled debut album - with their over the top lyrics, image and stage show coupled with cheer musical excellence...
It's incredible that 19 years later - the album still hasn't lost any of it's initial charm, and the songs still sound as fresh, raw and heavy as they (probably) did when this album first came out. Of course some of the lyrics tend to be a bit cheesy (like said in a review before) - especially "School Daze" and "B.A.D" but this takes nothing away from the enjoyment you get from this album - which is full of metal classics - like "Animal", "I Wanna Be Somebody", "Hellion" or "On Your Knees". Also of special mention is the excellent Rolling Stones cover "Paint It Black" which can be found on the re-master (which is THE version to get btw - just like all wasp re-releases).
This is screaming heavy metal the way that it was originally intended to be - catchy, energetic and a lot of fun - a classic album and the start of an amazing carreer for Lawless & co.
This is the type of album that you think of when you just think of straight-up heavy fucking metal. Lots of catchy riffs, nice soloing, and generally straightforward songwriting centred around a few riffs per song. There's nothing particularly progressive, epic, or anything like that about this album... but it does one thing, and it does it well, it fucking rocks!!!
Highlights... well, all the songs work pretty damn well... "Fuck Like a Beast" is the opener (on the remaster, anyway) and starts us off in great style, and then "I Wanna Be Somebody" is total speed metal. "LOVE Machine" is a bit cheesy but it works... in fact, all the songs match that description. If you demand your music to be serious, introspective, and philosophical... well, fuck off, you are neither loud, nor proud, and this album is just not for you. (And I poop on you, but that is an entirely different story.)
"Hellion" is also awesome, as is "On Your Knees" and "Tormentor"... even "Sleeping in the Fire", the obligatory ballad, works remarkably well. The cover of "Paint it Black" on the re-release is very nicely done as well.
This album lacks nothing, really... great vocals, nice fucking riff work, the occasional blazing solo, and just a dead-on sense for melodic ideas. Nothing awkward or "what-the-fuck-was-that-for??" here - it all works. If you like Judas Priest, the first few Crue albums, some Grim Reaper, or heavy fucking metal in general, you can't go wrong with this one.