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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.