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"The Headless Children" is the 4th studio album by American heavy metal band, W.A.S.P. It was released in 1989 on Capitol Records and produced by Blackie Lawless. The line-up for the album was Blackie Lawless (vocals/guitar), Chris Holmes (guitar), Johnny Rod (bass) and Frankie Banali (drums).
This was the last W.A.S.P. studio album to feature Chris Holmes before 1987's "Kill F**k Die" and the first to feature new drummer, Frankie Banali, who replaced Steve Riley. It's a follow-up to the band's 1986 album, "Inside the Electric Circus" and spawned three UK Top 40 singles, "Mean Man" peaked at No.21, "The Real Me" reached No.23 and "Forever Free" topped out at No.25. The album itself reached No.8 on the UK album charts.
"The Heretic (the Lost Child" begins the album with a haunting chorus of female arias, slowly building up the guitars and then the drums before the main part of the track comes in. I'm not sure what the song is about but having listened to the lyrics, I get the feeling it could have something to do with Stephen King's classic short story and film, "Children of the Corn", because it certainly goes down the route of worship and brotherhood.
"The Real Me" is a cover song of The Who's 1973 song, which was on the legendary "Quadrophrenia" album. It's a song about a man who has multiple personalities and how nobody understands him or can see the real man inside, and he's searching for answers which never come. Not being a big fan of The Who, I prefer this version. Johnny Rod's bass sounds good and Blackie is putting every effort into singing.
"The Headless Children" is an excellent song which builds up, not unlike "The Heretic (the Lost Child" does. It's about how we're all children of the earth and how we're looking to something higher to save us from what we've become and what we've done to the planet. It has a great main riff and some really good lyrics highlight the problems of the world today.
"Thunderhead" begins with a wonderful piano intro which leads into the main part of the song. It's a song about heroin addiction and how it takes control over you on its ravaging and unrelenting assault on your body until you've gone past the point of no return, and eventually, death. The narrator is basically saying you may as well put a gun to your head as it's quicker and less painful. The chorus is very catchy but it's a dark song because of its subject matter.
"Mean Man" is my favourite song on the album. It's one of those instantly recognisable tracks which you can't help but sing along to. The song is apparently about guitarist Chris Holmes and his wild child lifestyle. Holmes appeared on the 1989 documentary film, "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years", in a swimming pool on a floating raft and in the space of 30 seconds drinks a full bottle of vodka. It made for sober viewing and made me realise that the life of a rock star isn't all fun and games.
"The Neutron Bomber" is a more upbeat heavy metal song with a classic W.A.S.P. chorus. It's one of the dark horses of the album and the unison between Lawless and Holmes is excellent, with Rod and Banali keeping the time. It's a song about a bomber airplane which goes about its unrelenting business, not caring for the devastation and destruction it unleashes.
"Mephisto Waltz" is an instrumental album filler, or the intro to "Forever Free". It's hard to tell, but either way it's still an excellent 98 seconds of musical interchange between the contrasts of two guitars.
"Forever Free" is one of the best highlights on the album. It's a slow, almost ballad-feeling song, about a man whose loved one is dying and she's telling him to keep strong, knowing it's her time. It's sung with so much passion that I almost think it's got something to do with Blackie Lawless' past. It's an emotional ride which doesn't fail to touch you as you listen to it.
"Maneater" brings us back to the fun-loving W.A.S.P., with a song about being on the open road with 1200 CCs of metal underneath you, going as fast as you dare. The chorus is catchy and the riffing from both guitars sounds really good. I sometimes wonder if they got this song and its predecessor mixed up, because the video to "Forever Free" shows Blackie on a motorcycle, while the song has nothing to do with biking.
"Rebel in the F.D.G." ends the album with a headbanging classic, sounding a little like some early W.A.S.P. It's difficult not to like the song with its punchy verses and classy vocals. The song is self-explanatory as to what it's about, as the narrator has that happy-go-lucky attitude and doesn't care about the world around him.
In summary, with the exception of W.A.S.P.'s next album after this, this is probably where the band hit its peak. I like this album for so many reasons, mainly because it was at the heyday of heavy metal and because I was there to witness it. There's a bit of everything on here for everyone and I heartily recommend this album to anyone who likes this sort of music.
1. The Heretic (the Lost Child)
2. The Real Me
3. The Headless Children
5. Mean Man
6. The Neutron Bomber
7. Mephisto Waltz
8. Forever Free
10. Rebel in the F.D.G.
My rating: 8/10
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Heretic (The Lost Child)
2 Real Me
3 Headless Children
5 Mean Man
6 Neutron Bomber
7 Mephisto Waltz
8 Forever Free
10 Rebel in the F.D.G.
11 Locomotive Breath [*]
12 For Whom the Bell Tolls [*]
13 Lake of Fools [*]
14 War Cry [*]
15 L.O.V.E. Machine [Live][*]
16 Blind in Texas [Live][*]