Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Devil's Spotlight - W.A.S.P

Occasionally I'll be doing a feature entitled Devil's Spotlight which will focus on a band or artist I've listened to over the years and my thoughts and reflections on them.

This first installment will be on the L.A band Wasp( or W.A.S.P if you're really anal about that stuff). I first was introduced to them in 1984 through an acquaintance in high school and for the life of me I can't remember the name. But anyway he handed me a cassette tape with Slayer's Show No Mercy on one side and Wasp's self titled on the other side. Now this was at a time like I've mentioned before that I thought speed thrash was garbage plus these guys were all about Satan and I knew that wasn't going to fly in my house. But this other band Wasp now that was good stuff, heavy songs and evil lyrics but not over the top with the whole Satanic thing.

So I bought the real copy and the imagery I thought was cool. Here's this guy named Blackie Lawless with blue streaks in his hair and saw blades on his wrists and reports of throwing raw meat into the crowd. That's pretty wild to a 14 year old. So I bought the album when it came out which was entitled "The Last Command". The album started off in the same vein as the first but then turned into more of a hard rock album talking about drinking and sex. Well that's all good for a rebellious teenager but where was all of the evil imagery from the first album? Blackie Lawless was dressing more like a Indian (Native American for all of you PC people) then some deranged psycho. It wasn't a bad album but I couldn't get into it as much as the first.

Then the Inside the Electric Circus came out and let me tell you, 1986 was the peak of the "poser" era. Everyone was glamming it up including W.A.S.P. And the way to guage how much of a poser a band was turning into was by picking up a magazine called Faces Rocks! I guarantee you that every issue from 1985 through 1986 had pictorial pages with Wasp, Twisted Sister, and Judas Priest. With a bonus poster in the middle for good measure. Faces was like the Teen Beat of hard rock and metal. Anyways this album was pretty lackluster, honestly. Pretty much everything that had attracted me to this band had been stripped away and they were like a ton of other bands that were out at the time like Lizzy Borden, Malice, etc.

So fast forward a few years and Headless Children comes out I went ahead and picked it up and was glad I did. The opening track was epic and heavy and the whole thing just rocked. Blackie had basically shit canned everyone in the band but Chris Holmes and come out with something really good. It was a return back to the original album but more mature in songwriting.After that I lost track of them though due to the whole grunge shift and loss of MTV time and such. Years later I went back and listened to the albums I had missed and Blackie got even more ambitious with concept albums and socio political themes. There were some misfires along the way like an attempt to revisit the hellraising days of Last Command on Helldorado but overall there was some good material out there.

Here are my recommendations for a somewhat underrated band that gets very little press anymore stateside.
(1989)The Headless Children
(1992) The Crimson Idol
(1995)Still Not Black Enough
(2004)The Neon God
Go here to check out some of their tunes.

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