Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Clown, master of darkness, melancholic idol - 84%

Felix 1666, April 26th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1989, CD, Capitol Records

I have an urgent question before I am able to start this review: Is there anybody out there taking W.A.S.P. seriously? Don't think so. This party-clown Blackie L. was always somehow a ridiculous jester, just think of his embarrassing costumes on stage. But with the release of ""The Headless Children ", he took the bun: the jester transformed into a kind of a herald of the apocalypse. Beware, my friends, get out of the party cellar directly into Armageddon. What else? This route is only logical and, to close the cycle, I really don't wonder that Mr. Lawless has become a born-again Christian who hates his own former songs. But okay, that's his personal decision.

So now let's start the review and even though Blackie is definitely and without any doubts a clown, he proved evidence that his band can perform really great songs, at the latest with "The Headless Children". Two songs stand out, developing an enormous charisma and power, and it comes as no surprise that they constitute opener and title track. The ominous beginning of the first song and its Hells Bells-like guitars form a stage-setting intro and "The Heretic (The Lost Child)" grows slowly but steadily. Indeed, nobody knows why, but W.A.S.P. have added a dark colour to their tried and tested sound and a wasteland atmosphere takes place. It's a matter of course that the formation does not create a thrash, death or black metal inferno. Nonetheless, the song emanates destructive vibrations, both the instrumental parts and the sections with vocals. Hell opens up and Lawless shows, to my surprise, that he is able to master the dark arts. The title track goes in the same direction. The final day has begun, a stomping intro with a roaring riffs leads into a simple yet glorious headbanger. Keyboards show up, but they are used very skilfully and old Blackie makes clear that he is really a fantastic singer as long as he does not f'**k like a beast, but that's probably another story.

What about the further material? Does it stand in the shadow of these two giants? No way. W.A.S.P. deliver a great variety of metallic food and even the more or less mandatory ballad works. Of course, "Forever Free" must be described with attributes such as cheesy, stereotyped and overly commercial. And don't make the mistake to watch the gruesome video on YouTube. I promise it will burn your retina. Not to mention the "uhuuuhuuu" whining at the end of the song. Absolutely unbearable - but totally contagious at the same time. So who is the bigger jester, Blackie or me? Nobody knows. We just know the biggest jester. Donald's place is safe.

Either way, let's have a look at the opposite end of the scale. "The Neutron Bomber" embodies the metallic poltergeist of the album. It does not really sound heavy, it rather sounds like a Blackie who wants to be heavy, but due to whatever reason, it convinces with its simplicity and the irresistible chorus. It's nothing new that W.A.S.P. always had a talent for sustainable choruses and this song about the mad Donnie, sorry, Ronnie, is no exception in this respect. Better still, the entire output is immune against flops, although I will never understand why a band puts a cover version on the second position of the track list. This arrangement always looks like a declaration of creative bankruptcy to me. Nevertheless, songs like the cover version or "Maneater" are decent and the closer makes fun, despite or exactly because of its ridiculous lyrics. Finally, the production hits the mark, but this should be a matter of course when it comes to releases of bands with such a status.

It did not take long after this really great album and Blackie took on the next entirely new identity. The preacher of dark scenarios mutated into this crude idol that suffered from an incurable overdose of melancholy. Blackie seems to love clichés, no matter how stale they taste. His artistic way of proceeding really sucks. Honestly speaking, I still think he is just a clown. But strangely enough, I admit that even the album about this idol was not bad, to say the least.

A sobering exhortation to a drunken age. - 98%

hells_unicorn, April 22nd, 2019
Written based on this version: 1989, CD, Capitol Records

Every trend that captures the mainstream's imagination has an ephemeral nature, often designated by their respective decade in the writings of those who obsess over pop culture's incongruous history. Perpetual debates could be waged over what underlying forces dictate the life and death of the public's fleeting craze with a particular genre of art, but one thing that is clearly observable are the signs of a transition, and the times in which these signals become obvious usual coincide with some truly astounding and unique collections of music being born. Often thought of as the decade of heavy metal, the 1980s had reached a fever pitch level of excess by around 1986-1987, spearheaded by a growing number of newer bands that were taking the glam image to its logical conclusion and matching it with a happier, less metallic musical approach. This, in turn, was being matched by a number of tamer albums among the older alumni, perhaps best represented in the AOR-steeped sound of the output of Saxon, Judas Priest, and Twisted Sister. In similar fashion to an alcohol-steeped party binge, everyone was in a euphoric buzz where everybody becomes best friends and life seems perfect, oblivious to the coming blackout and next morning hangover.

Contrary to popular sentiment, the hangover did not hit in the early 90s with the rise of "alternative rock", but in the late 80s when the hegemony of the mainline heavy metal scene was being challenged both by the ascendant thrash metal scene and the rise of a rawer, grittier answer to glam rock via bands like Guns 'N' Roses. When faced with this push back, some opted to double-down and continue downing shots of hard liquor to stave off the hangover, while others decided to down some much needed coffee and headache pills and started taking stock of the world around them. W.A.S.P., arguably among the most intense proponents of rock 'n' roll hedonism with a metallic musical edge, found themselves in the unique position of being split on which direction to go. The recent antics of guitarist Chris Holmes on the infamous Decline Of Western Civilization: The Metal Years documentary made it pretty clear that his devotion to living fast and partying hard wasn't over, whereas band leader Blackie Lawless, likely fueled in part by his experiences dealing with censorship-happy politicians and conversations he'd had with fans (he once recounted a fan telling him that the lyrics of his 1984 song "B.A.D." helped her beat an addiction to heroine), was going in the opposite direction.

The resulting friction between the two dominant personalities that made up W.A.S.P.'s classic 1980s sound would pave the way for the musical juggernaut that is The Headless Children, an album afflicted by one of the most beautifully worded fits of lyrical self-contradiction and a rare presentation of mid-80s excess and late-80s socio-political consciousness coexisting on the same album. There is a strong remnant of the same AC/DC meets Judas Priest approach of formulaic anthems dedicated to unapologetic carnal indulgence, but the lion's share of the songs found on here have a darker and more outwardly aware character more befitting of the recent output of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Queensryche. Fueled by a far heavier production that rests somewhere between the drum-heavy and dense character of Operation: Mindcrime and a punchy, thick guitar and bass sound that somehow winds up in very similar territory to Headless Cross (though the source of inspiration was more likely that of Seventh Star and The Eternal Idol), this is a more metallic version of W.A.S.P. that features a more refined and distilled version of past glory, yet with a far more bleak and poignant outlook more befitting of the ensuing cynicism of the day.

Though not a conceptual work in the literal sense, this highly ambitious opus parallels the same musical formula that was at work on both Mindcrime and Iron Maiden's Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, all but to a fault. These influences are at their most blatant right at the album's very onset, as the towering 7-minute opener "The Heretic (The Lost Child)" begins with a portmanteau of ideas featured on both aforementioned albums, introducing itself in a creepy atmospheric blend of clean guitars, droning keyboards and an increasing level of tension that functions as an instrumental prelude for entire album. Once hitting a fast-paced stride, it basically sounds like a sleazier yet equally hard-hitting homage to "Moonchild" for the first of what can be viewed as a trilogy of sections, the last of which also bears an uncanny resemblance to "The Clairvoyant". Interestingly enough, the musical end of W.A.S.P.'s evolution here proves to be a shared experience as Chris Holmes contributed to the songwriting here, as is the case with this album's other epic offering "Thunderhead", which sees a similarly soft and subdued keyboard intro chased by a Sabbath-infused heavy metal romp that kind of resembles "Devil And Daughter", with Franki Banali's kit work showing heavy parallels to what Cozy Powell took to said song.

While the tip of this massive iceberg shows a continuity of style that would put Blackie and company in very different territory than prior outings, the overall character of this album proves to be a mixed bag. Towing a fairly similar line to the aforementioned metallic masterpieces is another Sabbath-inspired classic in the title song, which features a similarly creepy intro and incorporates a fair degree of Deep Purple elements that find them in a similar place to the bulk of the Tony Martin-era of said influence, ditto for the more straight up cruisers in "Maneater" and the nuclear protest anthem "The Neutron Bomber". On the other side of the impact-based equation are straight up mid-paced riff monsters and throwbacks to the earlier days "Rebel In The F.D.G." (which sounds like an unofficial sequel to "Wild Child") and Blackie's ode to Chris Holmes' live fast and die lifestyle "Mean Man". The rest of the contents on here function more as curious outliers from the duel between political commentary and partying hard, with a brief acoustic interlude somewhat along the lines of a number of old school Sabbath instrumentals "Mephisto Waltz" and a Zeppelin meets Lynyrd Skynyrd inspired acoustic ballad in "Forever Free", which almost sounds light and sappy enough to rival Cinderella or Warrant, arguably the album's lone low point but overall a decent offering.

There is a unique synchronicity to this album, in spite of its clashing themes and occasionally jolting shifts in stylistic direction, that puts it in a class all by itself. Truth be told, although the massive stylistic progression at work in songs like "Thunderhead" and "The Heretic" definitely point to where Blackie would end up on the subsequent masterpiece The Crimson Idol, not to mention the selection of one of the best well known songs off The Who's Quadrophenia (which inspired W.A.S.P.'s 1992 classic) in "The Real Me" (former King Cobra bassist Johnny Rod does an excellent job of mimicking John Entwistle's fancy bass work, a rarity during his tenure with this band), this doesn't really come off as a musical prequel to what would follow. It is definitely the furthest away from the band's glam proclivities in a sonic sense, having a distinctively heavier, more technical, and stylistically adventurous attitude. There is definitely a reason why this album is often cited by critics as their greatest accomplishment and why it endears itself more to heavy metal fans than previous of subsequent albums, and it's the same reason why it didn't end up selling as well as the last three releases. This was a work of art with a high degree of depth that was put out in a time when people either wanted simple entertainment or to kill each other in the pit, a proverbial philosopher trying to appeal to a drunken world that wasn't ready to sober up.

Blows Your Head Off - 99%

heavymetalbackwards, October 30th, 2009

It was during the tour for Inside The Electric Circus, while Blackie Lawless was viewing himself in the mirror as he finished applying his make-up; he was thinking of his childhood rock favorites: The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin. Hit with an attack of self-consciousness, he spun around to address his band mates, “When are we going to do anything of real artistic value?” He was met by blank stares.

Blackie had his mind set that the next record would address serious political and social issues, rather than just boozing it up with Satan and sadomasochistic sexual debauchery. That’s when “The Headless Children” was conceived, but the gestation period lasted years and into 1989.

Pete Townsend declared that W.A.S.P.’s cover of “The Real Me,” which appears on this album, was more like what he wished the original version by The Who would have come out like. Well, if that’s true, then Blackie certainly outdid some aspects of his childhood heroes, because that’s not even the best track on here. No, the best one is the ballad “Forever Free.”

A deep lyrical analysis is necessary to absorb the overwhelming gorgeousness of this song’s narrative:

“Mephisto Waltz” preludes. Then, “I ride all alone and can’t see the road to nowhere anymore.” Imagine a biker who once traveled miles and miles with his girl across the open highway, just riding to nowhere. But now, she is gone, and he can’t even see “nowhere” anymore. That magical, non-existent destination they perpetually traversed toward disappeared when she passed away.

So his memory whispers for him to return to the spot she fell, and passed over the horizon. The song then tells of how he is convinced he will never love again, but somehow, he finds another woman. But then he is haunted in his nightmares by his deceased lover’s cries, which eventually tell him not to worry, and to keep riding, to keep riding to nowhere. It’s still there. She knows; she rides toward it every day in the wind.

Bam! Blackie rides! He burns rubber, ripping that road to nowhere through the song “Maneater.” This is Judas Priest-style metal at its heaviest and most intense, and my favorite track of this style on the album. There are also the slightly inferior, but still killer, “Mean Man” and “Rebel in the F.D.G.” that are the same style of loud-and-proud motorcycle metal. It’s simplistic; it’s straightforward, but it ain’t glam and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. Glam went goodbye in W.A.S.P. starting with this album.

But you know, W.A.S.P. do more than just flex their macho-muscles. We get Blackie giving his social insight from the very beginning, with the opener “Lost Child (The Heretic).” Verse after verse, guitar solo after guitar solo, this song builds a tower of heaviness as Blackie screeches about political inequality, racism, and prejudice. Yeah, the melodies are still as awesome as the glam days, but they are less overt and more complex. Chris Holmes’s guitar work is also something to be amazed by, especially on “Thunderhead.” Musically speaking, this album is just outright superb.

Now, this album isn’t perfect. The title track, for example, is just a good heavy metal song but not particularly mind-blowing or fist-pumping. I think this is the best they had done since the debut, which would remain number one until a couple years later when W.A.S.P. put out their magnus opus, “The Crimson Idol.” Still, this is an almost perfect album, and if you’re neither into the more glammy nor the more progressive sides of metal, this could be your favorite W.A.S.P. CD.

W.A.S.P. Created A Monster - 93%

OzzyApu, September 17th, 2009
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Snapper Classics (Digipak, Remastered)

This album marked a real change with the band. Gone (predominately) were the tales of partying, how much school sucked, and, to put it bluntly, fucking. Upon first listen, this really didn’t faze me at all. I guess the change in sound, production, pace, and style caught me off guard – I was unable to recognize this upon first listen, thus making The Headless Children a slight grower. For the most part, the simplistic songs have been omitted with ones bearing stronger guitar leads, interludes / intros / outros crossing epic boundaries, and others filled to the brim with oozing emotion and passion that only Lawless could let loose. The way I see it, this album is split in half (thirds if you count the 1998 reissue).

The first four tracks and the “The Neutron Bomber” I count as the first and most impressive half of the album. Yes, “The Neutron Bomber” comes after "Mean Man," but I find "Mean Man" to be such a lame track with it’s simplistic approach, uninspired attitude, and uneventful run that I always skip it. It doesn’t even stand up to the worst of an earlier W.A.S.P. track, which is pathetic and inexcusable – yelling “I’m a mean motherfucking man” with a fractionally cool riff isn’t a good combination. Otherwise, the other half consists of songs with less ambition than the first half (they are closer to earlier W.A.S.P. songs). In that group, however, is arguably W.A.S.P.’s most heartfelt ballad of the 80s, “Forever Free.” I’ve never heard Blackie with so much anguish in his voice before this; it sounds like he can barely get through his lines – the passion, the personal touch, and the despair; it’s all so enduring. Anyway, the reissue tracks carry their own signature impressions and tones in such a way that they’re not really associated with the rest of the album (they’re a bit darker, for one).

The album is loads more focused than Inside The Electric Circus, which consisted of catchy songs after more catchy songs (good for concerts). Here the tone is darker, more aggressive, much more epic, and developed. It’s a different W.A.S.P. that really surprised me in how mature it all sounds – everything from the riffs to the arrangements and the way Lawless sings shows that they overhauled the writing process. This can be heard with the gargantuan anthem of a first track (with its rapturous, melodic, Iron Maiden-esque outro), the title track’s skull-crushing riffs and apocalyptic atmosphere, and what I’d call the best track on the whole album (and probably of W.A.S.P.'s career), “Thunderhead”. Everything from the band’s infectious chorus, to the starkly haunting keyboard intro, to the blasphemous solo interlude-tradeoff between Satan and Blackie (they’re literally talking to each other) will get you pumped out of your seat. Count the number of solos that appear in this track - it's like a harmonic tsunami!

The guitar tone is rough but belligerent, much more than the electrically surging one found on the previous album. The riffs themselves aren’t as bumbling as they used to be, either, but they still hold that distinct ‘80s tinge. Bass support I’d call their best, since the lines are great and you can actually hear them aside by the guitars. When Blackie was on bass, he really didn’t give a whole lot of spotlight to his own lines (or audibility), but at that time it was excusable because the songs were short and catchy. Here, they’re more refined and hold their own closer to a blubbery fashion where you can actually hear it protruding it’s lines against the rest. Drumming itself is vicious, helping attain that aggressive attitude that marks nearly the entire album. The sound is rupturing with every part of the kit a hard-hitting machine. The patterns are very comfortable with the rhythm of the songs, helping manifest a tight experience all-around. In the car I love hearing the double bass galloping with the cymbals crashing like artillery rounds against the earth beside me. Blackie himself retains his brand of yelling / screaming that no one else can replicate. It’s a little more hoarse since he had to adjust toward the album’s more hostile tone, but in this respect he’s much more convincing in the role when shouting all pissed off, especially in the first half of the album.

Anyway, if I had to recommend you a particular version, I’d say go for the reissue. It gives you not only four extra good tracks, but also a production boost that I’d praise. The original isn’t so bad on the production, but it feels pretty lacking with only ten tracks and the experience goes by too quickly, so those extra tracks come in handy. By in large, this marked W.A.S.P.’s journey into deeper and darker territories which, to this day, the band has still been living in. As much as I love the first three albums, this one rules as their most compelling of the ‘80s.

They were on fucking fire here. - 95%

Empyreal, June 14th, 2009

W.A.S.P. are truly one of metal's timeless bands. They never really produced anything that could touch the highest peaks of the genre like Transcendence or Awaken the Guardian or anything like that, but they did consistently peddle out enjoyable, driving, hard-rockin' metallic fury that quite frankly is as addictive as hell. I don't know what it is about this stuff, about this generally fun loving, carefree style in general, but it rules, and I can't stop myself from listening to it. Hell, I wouldn't be able to do that if you put a fucking gun to my head and threatened to kill me if I didn't. This band is just incredibly replayable, maybe moreso than 99% of the genre's other stalwarts. That is a feat to be lauded for.

Anyway, the punchline is The Headless Children, which was my very first W.A.S.P. album from a few years back. This one marked the transition between the happy, risque, party-addicted, sex-crazed band of old and the more serious, heavy beast they were becoming. There are some vaguely political and even epic lyrics hinted at on here, blended rather incoherently with the more traditional tales of sex, booze and drugs that have not been completely vanquished yet. The basic sound of the band is intact, but here it's like they were on fire - they always had heavy, catchy riffs and Blackie Lawless' rough, sleazy croon, but here the riffs are louder, the solos are more intense and Blackie sounds angrier and more focused - it's taking everything good about the band from before and amplifying it tenfold. I suppose this is due to Blackie taking on the rhythm guitar duties and leaving the solos to axeman Chris Holmes, making for an added diversity in guitar playing. Whatever the cause, the band just sounds great on here, with the energized, juicy production job courtesy of Blackie himself being a huge aid to that.

The song selection is one thing I like a lot about this album, varying from metallic Iron Maiden-caliber epics like "The Heretic (The Lost Child)," with its galloping riff, dark thematic and epic build up, the booming epic "Thunderhead" and the rumbling, dirgey riffs of the title track to angry, booze-sodden hard rock songs like the careening "Mean Man" and the furiously headbangable "Rebel in the F.D.G." There's a little something here for everyone, and the variety is just delightful, making for a fully functioning banquet of 80s metal glory. Even the pansy ballad "Forever Free" is completely genuine and not sleazy at all, with its open sounding guitar work and melodious backdrop being instantly charming and likable. I can't really defend the pointless instrumental "Mephisto Waltz," though, as it doesn't really fit in or build up to anything useful. Oh well.

The Headless Children is nothing if not a manifesto to energetic, rocking mastery of the style. It's compulsively replayable, endlessly enjoyable and it just rocks the fuck out like there's no tomorrow. W.A.S.P. have a lot of very good albums, and this is definitely my favorite at the moment. Check this out if you haven't already; it is mandatory. Just listen to Blackie scream out the "Ohhhh YEAH!" bit in the chorus on "Rebel in the F.D.G." if you want any confirmation of why this rules so much. God, is that powerful; now I have to go listen to it again...

Originally written for

WASP are silly - 90%

Acrobat, December 22nd, 2008

Ha, WASP. I think I love them for the reasons many people would despise Blackie and company. Blackie Lawless clearly has epic rock-pyrotechnical-wizard-of-doom ambitions and unmistakably tortured by the fact that he had to play to massive crowds and have sex with nubile women. Clearly, Blackie thinks he sounds like Who’s Next era Roger Daltrey and Steve Marriott, he doesn’t, Blackie Lawless sounds like a heavy metal Noddy Holder…


But Blackie, despite his silly artiste moments, happens to deliver some killer heavy metal armed to the teeth with massive rock ’n’ roll clichés. He and Ian Astbury – in some alternate past – would ideally have formed some massive super-group and boldly cover me in “woahs”, “ows” and “babys”, baby. Let’s face it, you’ve got to love a band who can write a song like Mean Man, if not you’re probably best sticking to neo-folk and such as clearly you don’t love riding on the wind whilst the fan is on medium setting.

Headless Children marks when WASP went from shagging everything to that moved into a more serious (in a GCSE in sociology degree sort of way) and indeed heavier band. However, I for one wouldn’t ever question WASP’s metal credentials and rather than giving some big fuck-off sonic comparison to their peers, let me put this to you, in the 1980s Chris Holmes could out-drink James Hetfield, whilst his mother was present. Headless Children simply shows WASP’s ascension into more consistent and, dare I say it, mature territory. In fact it’s one of those clichéd planetary alignment moments in which everything was right for WASP and they delivered in stratospheric proportions.

If you needed any assurance of this change for the better just take opener, The Heretic (The Lost Child) melodic, ripping and clearly more advanced than anything the band had attempted before whilst retaining their visceral energy. It’s got a vibe comparable to that of Iron Maiden’s Moonchild with its dark tone, strong melodies and slightly progressive – or at least ambitious – touches. Notably Blackie taking on a rhythm guitar role has freed up Chris Holmes and as such he rips away in a really exciting fashion and at its conclusion The Heretic descends into a vibrant slurry of soloing with all sorts of insane trilling, legato and tapping going on with some sparse but effective use of wah. It’s an impressive piece of guitar but doesn’t come across as a talented guitarist simply going into kitchen sink styled acrobatics.

Acting as an indication of things to come we get an earnest and brave version of The Who’s The Real Me. Why brave, you say? Well even attempting to play a song by The Who is a pretty brave thing to attempt, what with their completely unique chemistry and general awesomeness. “What?” you’d exclaim, “Pete Townshend couldn’t sweep pick the Transylvanian minor scale…” and then I’d finish this ‘joke’ and possibly mention Death, it’d be great. But I’m still quite impressed by the song at hand. The bass is especially notable; Johnny Rod clearly knows The Ox well and does his playing justice and even though the drum sound isn’t ideal for the Moon style of playing he also clearly understands what Keith Moon was going for (a hovercraft and a house in the country?)

What with all the seriousness and socio-political commentary you’d think that WASP had lost their ability to just rock out. Thankfully, this is not the case and though even the album’s more serious numbers demonstrate this with vigour, Mean Man gives a sufficient boost of straight-ahead awesomeness in a British Steel fashion. The song is, of course, an odd to Chris Holmes and apparently was inspired by a woman – following an incident in a restaurant, possibly involving bread that was too small – saying “Chris Holmes, you are one mean man!” to which he replied, “You got that half right, cuz I’m a mean motherfuckin’ man” and probably pulled out a guitar right there and then. That’s pretty awesome, although perhaps she got it two thirds right, I’m not sure. You really can’t deny the simple infectiousness of this song; a primal ode to how Chris Holmes was raised by badgers and born in a cave. Amusingly enough, this mean man left WASP shortly after, to spend time with his wife.

Headless Children does have one let down, Forever Free is a fairly average ballad and makes me think of eagles crying, the graphics on the side of fairground rides and cowboys singing about “real American hot dogs”. However it is notable for Ken Hensley resurrecting some Heep-styled organ melodies which is pretty tasty… I just wished they’d given him a big organ wig-out ala Gypsy. I’m not sure where that would have fitted in this song but organ wig-outs improve tacky ballads. Fact. Also, I spotted another bit of Uriah Heep worship, listen to that intro on Thunderhead just prior to the first verse… complete Uriah Heep. Though I must note WASP learnt how to deliver an effective ballad on the subsequent egotistical-but-brilliant Crimson Idol.

Rebel in the F.D.G. brings things to a close in typically remarkable fashion with perhaps the best solo on the album, it’s scintillating, exciting stuff. But I do have a point of contention with this song, assuming Blackie Lawless is some kind of rock ’n’ roll rebel – which his name may suggest. To be a rebel in the so-called ‘Fucking Decadent Generation’ surely Blackie would have to adopt the role of some sort of accountant/lion tamer, eat his vegetables and not partake in anything morally suspect, right? So this makes little sense lyrically, but musically it’s strong enough to me to forget its shortcomings and sing along and play air guitar in my dressing gown.

So though Blackie Lawless may look like an aging gothic woman, like the sort you’d find under dry ice at Sister’s of Mercy gigs or running a shop selling dream catchers and incense, but he also happens to write fucking brilliant heavy metal. Headless Children – though still 1989’s second best Headless record – demonstrates this better than any other WASP record.

W.A.S.P. Are Somewhat Penetrative. - 93%

Shadespawn, September 29th, 2008

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!

Almost a great album - 70%

Vim_Fuego, August 6th, 2004

WASP was a band that always rode just under the crest of the Glam Metal wave of the late 1980s. They were too antisocial to gain much radio play and too heavy for many Glam fans. The hairspray, makeup and songs about girls alienated many other metal fans. However, WASP made too much noise to be ignored.

The choir intro and menacing feel mounting at the start of "The Heretic (The Lost Child)" dispel any thoughts of dismissing WASP as mere glam shock rockers. The song is dark and heavy (for WASP), and almost reaches the heights of traditional Metal a la Manowar and Maiden. Blackie Lawless has never been a flash guitarist himself, but proved here he could knock out some very solid rhythm guitar. Over it all, Chris Holmes threw layer upon layer of guitar histrionics, with solos flying in several directions at once.

The title track follows in a similar dark vein. Where the opener crashed along at a brisk pace, "The Headless Children" throws out the anchors. It pounds along incessantly, with the heaviest drum sound the band ever produced.

WASP had a habit of throwing in the odd cover to their albums. This time round, it is The Who's "The Real Me". Double kickdrums, at the time the staple of Thrash, are thrown in here courtesy of hired gun Frankie Banali. Also in the mix was keyboard player Ken Hensley, beefing things up with the unmistakable sound of a Hammond organ. This was confusing for thrashers. WASP were a Glam Metal band with a keyboard player, and therefore the sworn enemy, but the music wasn't throwaway pop–rock, they lyrics weren't about "Girls, Girls, Girls", and the band had toned down their effeminate side. What was a Thrash fan to do?

Basically, all they had to do was wait for side two of the album. Yep, after a promising start, Blackie fucked it all up. First song up was "Mean Man", which was supposedly banned by the BBC for having the word "motherfuckin'" in it. It was more likely to have been because it was crap. In an instant, the atmosphere of despair and hopelessness built up on side one disappears. Lyrics as piss poor as "Chewbacca in the rye/The water of fire" and "Scooter gypsy/I'm a renegade/An orphan of the road/A live hand grenade" deserve to be banned. "The Neutron Bomber", "Maneater", and the ubiquitous power ballad "Forever Free" are just as bad.

By the time "Rebel In The FDG" rolls around, Thrash fans of old would have been praying for merciful death (and would be hunting through their collection for "Merciless Death"), as the album descends into full on cock rock "yeah, yeah, ooh, ooh, baby, baby" territory.

After a moody first half, 'The Headless Children' crashed and burned into the realm of Glam Metal cliché, proving a Glam rocker can't change his leopard skin spots.

A bit more serious - 94%

Nightcrawler, October 4th, 2003

The band's third album, Inside The Electric Circus was a bit on the weaker side, at least compared to the first two masterpieces. You could easily say that the fourth album was something of a make-or-break album for them. It's definitely a make.
The Headless Children, as already pointed out, (for the most part) steps away from their earlier sex, beer and heavy metal image, and take a more serious and thoughtful direction, while still rocking pretty damn well.
Most of the lyrics deal with nuclear war, drugs and other more serious subjects, and the songs are generally longer and songs like the opener The Heretic (The Lost Child) have a whole bunch of riffs, and several tempo changes that all work extremely well.

Needless to say, The Headless Children turned out to be yet another masterpiece for the band. Every song on here is totally awesome, with one exception: The cover of The Who's The Real Me. It's a pretty simple, straightforward rocker and while it's a very good song on it's own just looks very pathetic besides the grandeur of the other songs, and feels incredibly out of place. But that is the only exception. The rest is all W.A.S.P. at their very best.

Previously mentioned opening track, The Heretic, features some crazy soloing, a dead cool chorus and this really cool mid-section with an Maiden-ish melodic riff, and the song as a whole totally reigns.
The title track is one of the biggest highlights- the midpaced, hammering drum rhythms get highlighted during the verses. Kinda like L.O.V.E. Machine from the first, only better. What totally make this song stand out, however, is that awesome speed metal riff right before and after the solo. Quite possibly the best riff W.A.S.P. ever did.
Thunderhead is yet another classic, with the atmospheric intro, singalong chorus, the solos and whatnot. Awesome song. But the song seems pale in comparison to the one that follows it- Mean Motherfucking Man, the albums major highlight and the third best song the band ever did. This takes us back to the band's first three albums; straightforward, furious heavy fucking metal.
I've already forgotten about the title track- the main riff of this song is by far the best riff they ever did. It totally screams of attitude and power, and something as simple as a tone change towards the end of it manages to transcend it to even higher levels. And the rest of the song? Fast, punchy and to the point. Awesome riffs all through, crazy soloing, and one of the best choruses they ever did- Screaming heavy metal at it's finest.
The album's second half doesn't decrease the ownage. The Neutron Bomber contains more powerful riffwork and drum-driven verses that are made totally awesome thanks to that melodic touch on the vocal lines toward the end- and I also must point out that the drum-and-guitar intro sounds totally like Kiss - Love Gun.
Mephisto Waltz is a very nice, acoustic instrumental leading into Forever Free, which continues the W.A.S.P. tradition of great ballads. This one is a bit more sad and emotional than the previous, and is totally well done, and also features one of Blackie's best vocal performances ever. Maneater is more raging heavy metal in the vein of Mean Man, with screaming riffs, powerful vocal lines and of course Harley-worshipping lyrics. The album's second greatest song. And finally Rebel In The F.D.G., which is more classic heavy metal, with an killer atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of Wild Child.

The remaster also features quite a bunch of bonus tracks. Only two stand out as particularly interesting though. First off, the B-side War Cry, which is a totally awesome metal anthem. The second is the live version of Blind in Texas, where they get some random dude named Andy to sing the chorus, which is totally hilarious.

So W.A.S.P. decides to get more deep and serious on some points, yet still maintaining the sheer rockage of their first releases. The Headless Children is another indispensable heavy metal classic, and was their best work to that date. The Last Command comes really close, but this one takes the cake.

W.A.S.P. somehow manage to transcend themselves - 96%

UltraBoris, December 31st, 2002

WOW. That's all I can say about this. Take the first three albums, all excellent in their own right... and that's the worst of this album. A lot of the songs on here are in the vein of that album, except maybe a bit heavier. Stuff like "Mean Man", "Neutron Bomber", and "Rebel in the FDG" are classic balls-out rockers that only WASP can do quite properly. Catchy as fuck, great riffs, memorable songwriting. You know the drill. "The Real Me" is an excellent cover of the Who, and "Forever Free" adds to their tradition of being able to get it right when it comes to ballads. Also, "Maneater" (a Harley child 'til I die.....) is spectacular.

Then, even the bonus tracks are great, including a very good cover of Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath", and nice originals like "War Cry", which would have not been out of place somewhere in the middle of the album (I ripped my vinyl to CDR and added that song right after "Neutron Bomber" as a bonus track!).

And that's the worst of it... as for the best, there are three songs on here that are just plain mind-blowing. They step up lyrically a lot, to take on "serious issues" in a really harrowing way... The title track, for instance, deals with nuclear war. It moves along at slightly above medium pace, centred around several excellent riffs. Awesome stuff.

Then, "Thunderhead" immediately follows this one. This song is just really fucking harrowing, if you listen to it closely. A little piano intro sets the atmosphere - this in and of itself would have been a great fucking song, but then it kicks into overdrive... "thunderhead, you're a man with a problem!" Then, the middle section. "Will you die for me?" "YES MASTER!" Then, solo after solo - I count something like eight in a row, with the last one exploding out of nowhere... absolutely awesome combination of melody and heaviness... the only real comparison I could think of is Painkiller, but not quite.

Okay, and that's not even the best!! This album is made a complete fucking legend by the opening track. "The Heretic" first pummels you with verse after verse over rapid-fire riffs... then a little melodic break, followed by more verses. "Don't turn off the light, there are demons in the night!" More riffs! And finally, "The heretic will say, you don't have to be afraid, until I -- UNTIL I COME TO GET YOU!!!" Then, solo after solo... this, my friends, is quite possibly the BEST heavy metal song ever done. Ever.

Album of the year - top ten albums of all time. This is a total classic. This is traditional/80s/whatever metal of the absolute highest caliber.