When a band's lead singer goes by the name "Blackie Lawless," there's bound to be a little trouble -- a premise W.A.S.P. rarely strays from. Lawless has been the mainstay member of this '80s metal act that's known more for its antics than its music, serving as singer and frontman on top of turns as bassist and guitarist. Decades before Nine Inch Nails' bestial cravings became regular dance-floor beats, W.A.S.P.'s 1983 debut created a buzz with its title of Animal (F**k like a Beast). Possessing a sound as raw as the meat often used in its stage show, the group delivers a heavy-metal hive full of fierce, stinging riffs combined with Blackie's vocals, which fly from shrill to ominous. Reaction to the album title made the band a honey of the Parents Music Resource Center. Aggravated by the contents of W.A.S.P.'s lyrics and music videos, the PMRC deemed the act offensive. Owing nearly all its minor success and few charting tracks to negative attention, the band maintains its pop-culture stickiness through the infamy caused by its outrageous and obscene exploits. W.A.S.P.'s enduring identity, despite changes in lineup, remains based on shocking stunts -- such as tying naked models to torture racks, Lawless shooting flames from his codpiece and the raw meat, chunks of which are hurled into the audience during the band's performances. Weak-stomached rockers beware: W.A.S.P. and its original outlaw, Blackie Lawless, will swarm the Bluebird Theater this Tuesday, July 20.
Get the Music Newsletter