W.A.S.P.
The Headless Children


4.0
excellent

Review

by James Honaker USER (7 Reviews)
November 11th, 2012 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: W.A.S.P.'s best work...yes, better than "The Crimson Idol".

The Headless Children is, if nothing else, a turning point in W.A.S.P.'s discography. Their first three albums (the self-titled, The Last Command, and Inside The Electric Circus) all showcased highly-competent 80's glam metal with over-the-top imagery and lyricism (see "Animal (F**k like a Beast)"), more or less designed to augment their overly theatrical stage show, which included launching raw meat into the crowd and tying ladies to torture racks. By the end of the 80s, though, frontman Blackie Lawless wanted to present an image of being a "serious musician", that there was some substance behind the circular-saw codpiece and the singing about sexual prowess. So, they apparently decided to put more of an emphasis on presenting a "serious" image for their fourth outing.

And, surprisingly, the result of that change in focus is the best album the band's put out. Yes, it's better than even The Crimson Idol.

The album's opener, "The Heretic (The Lost Child)", is the most triumphant example of this. It's longer than any single song off of their prior albums, but it justifies its opening position with some of the best riffs and solos the band has ever penned. It even features a good number of effective tempo changes, and the dark (and introspective) lyrics are a marked improvement over the schlock they peddled on their prior outings.

The rest of the album doesn't quite hit the highs of the opening number, but it ends up being very strong in all. "Thunderhead" has a gorgeous intro before settling into an excellent mid-tempo groove, and the title track is sublimely creepy and haunting. "The Neutron Bomber" is a faster number that works more than competently, and the same can be said about "Maneater". "Rebel in the F.D.G." works nicely as the closer of the "normal" edition of the album, harkening back to the likes of "Wild Child" in sound.

Unfortunately, the album does have three weak links. "Mean Man" is as close to their old material as they dance (especially with its chorus of "I'm a mean motherf***in' man"), and its hammy lyricism just doesn't work in with the rest of the album and makes it feel like a throwaway from, say, Inside the Electric Circus. "The Real Me", a cover of the The Who song from Quadrophenia, just comes off as being weak and out-of-place. And I'm convinced that W.A.S.P. absolutely cannot write a ballad to save their lives; "Forever Free" underlines this, falling victim to every ballad cliché you can think of.

So, those are the songs. The overall band, skill-wise, is about what it was from the last albums (though the drummer is much better on this outing), though the longer and more detailed songs serve to give them space to showcase their musical chops better. Blackie Lawless is still a pretty underrated vocalist; while he's certainly no Halford or Dio (his range is frankly poor), his unique howl is immediately recognizable and actually fits in well with the material. There's nothing else frankly remarkable from a technical standpoint, save that Chris Holmes was a good guitarist and the album sounds firmly rooted in the 80's.

There are a few missteps, but the overall quality of the album makes this the best work W.A.S.P. has done (beating out the occasionally overwrought and inconsistent The Crimson Idol) and one of the better "hair metal" albums from the 80s. It's a pity that the band splintered after this (eventually rejiggering into the Blackie Lawless Show), because it would have been interesting to see what else could have come out of them.

[The 1998 re-release adds four studio numbers and two live performances; the cover of "Locomotive Breath" from Jethro Tull is nice, but the other inclusions are awfully pedestrian.]



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user ratings (128)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2012


21595 Comments


Props for reviewing this. Album rules hard.

Digging: Foxes in Fiction - Ontario Gothic

KjSwantko
November 11th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album kicks ass agreed. I was so surprised when I jammed this a few months back

PsychicChris
November 11th 2012


217 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mean Man is my favorite track but great review.

KjSwantko
November 20th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

CUZ I'M A MEAN MOTHERFUCKIN MAN
AND I'VE GOTTA SCREAM THAT'S WHAT I AM


satrianoid
February 22nd 2013


46 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Some excellent tracks. Some good. Going for a 3 overall. Can't find it in me to go higher although I was always fond of these lot.

BigPleb
February 22nd 2013


37926 Comments


Dat album title

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2013


21595 Comments


lol skele, W.A.S.P. rules.

manosg
February 22nd 2013


6702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

To each his own. To me W.A.S.P. is a great band and this is my second favorite album from them.

Digging: Witchfynde - Give 'em Hell

DrHouseSchuldiner
May 9th 2013


5643 Comments


I could never imagine enjoying a glam album but its just different i dunno !

sputnik1
May 9th 2013


187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love this album!!! Lost Child (The Heretic) being a personal fave along with Mean Man! W.A.S.P. goes downhill after this mostly.

KjSwantko
May 9th 2013


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

kix azz

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2013


21595 Comments


Rules hard.

manosg
May 9th 2013


6702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed.

facupm
February 17th 2014


8594 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is great but i prefer the debut album

manosg
February 18th 2014


6702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Crimson Idol rules too.

facupm
February 18th 2014


8594 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ive heard the first four albums actually so i cant say

KjSwantko
March 20th 2014


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

LIKE THUNDA!

facupm
May 8th 2014


8594 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the headless childreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen

manosg
May 9th 2014


6702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome album, their most mature at the time.



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