The Crypt – Digging Up Old Bones, January 2010
Not rare, not out of print, but definitely a classic in every sense. This is the first full length release for W.A.S.P., and one that should be in every Metalhead’s collection. My first encounter with these guys came in the form of a photo in Circus Magazine in 1985. I was in 7th grade, and was already heavily into Metal. I regularly listened to bands such as KISS, Iron Maiden, Priest, Saxon, Sodom, Celtic Frost, Fastway, and a myriad of others. Being from a small town, my ‘zine intake was limited to Hit Parader and Circus, both of which I would steal from the local grocery store and devour at home, in school…everywhere I could. When thumbing through my newest copy of Circus, I ran across a photo in an article I don’t remember anything about. The only thing important was the pic. In it, four completely deranged looking guys dressed head to toe in leather, and surrounded by fog caught my attention and blew my mind. One of them, wearing saw blades on his gauntlets and a white streak in his jet black, impossibly long hair was draining blood from a skull into his mouth and over his chest. It was W.A.S.P.
By the time Guns ‘N’ Roses pranced their pansy asses around claiming to be the world’s “most dangerous band”, W.A.S.P. had already walked all over that title several times over. They were a band that, with the single that predeeded this album (1983’s “Animal (I Fuck Like A Beast)), had already firmly established themseves with the PMRC, found themselves in trouble with police constantly, and seemed bent on destruction. In my mind, visually W.A.S.P had out-KISSed KISS, stepped into territory even Alice Cooper wouldn’t tread, and taken Shock Rock to new angrier and much darker extremes. Musically, they were a juggernaut. They weren’t the heaviest, fastest, or most brilliantly talented. They didn’t have to be. Their music raged with a fire produced by fully crazed individuals with alcohol in their veins, and violence on their minds. From the opening drum roll and guitar slide of “I Wanna Be Somebody”, I was taken for a ride that I have never returned from.
Tracks such as “I Wanna Be Somebody”, “B.A.D.”, and “Hellion” are Thrash tinged songs that crackle with harsh intensity, but retain a catchiness that will make them ring in your ears for days. “Sleeping in the Fire”, the only official “ballad” on the album, has a dark romanticism to it that almost gives you visions if you let it. “Tormentor” and “The Torture Never Stops” are completely sinister in their delivery. The guitar tone on this album was completely over the top, raw and loud. How they captured this sound is beyond me. This guitar sound, along with the drums, Blackie Lawless’s nearly guitar-like basslines and inhuman voice makes it a completely live sounding recording that simply kills. At this point, W.A.S.P. was a band with the switch set to “destroy”, and they did their level best to do just that. Their live shows were absolute chaos. While most bands are surrounded by mere rumor, W.A.S.P. revelled in bringing those rumors to life. They utilized gallons of blood, a box full of raw meat, axes, sawblades, and a fully functional torture rack with a hooded, half nude woman chained inside. Why the sawblades on Blackie’s gauntlets? Aside from simply looking cool, he would use them to “slice the throat” of the woman in the rack during a point in the show. This album was the soundtrack to what Blackie called in interviews “Electric Vaudeville”. Lizzy Borden would come along just a few years behind, pick up where W.A.S.P. left off (though on a much milder scale), and call it “Psycho Drama”.
I have followed W.A.S.P. all these years. I have witnessed every personnel change, every stylistic change (for better AND worse); I have watched them rise, fall, and rise again. To this day, Blackie is still writing and releasing W.A.S.P. albums. In 28 years, they haven’t really changed much, and I don’t expect them to. They still thrive on controversy and confrontation. has spawned a ton of imitators, and their influence will be felt for years after the notes of their final album ring out.