W.A.S.P. 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 traditional metal fans. However, W.A.S.P. made too much noise to ignore.
The choir intro and menacing feel mounting at the start of "The Heretic (The Lost Child)" dispel any thoughts of dismissing W.A.S.P. as mere glam shock rockers. The song is dark and heavy (for W.A.S.P.), 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.
W.A.S.P. 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 metal, are thrown in here courtesy of 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. W.A.S.P. were a glam metal band with a keyboard player, and therefore the sworn enemy, but the music wasn't throwaway pop–rock. The 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 (back in 1989, albums had at least two sides). Yep, after a promising start, Blackie fucked it all up. First song up on side two 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 Dark Angel’s "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.