Cast your minds back to a time when metal music was not cool. Nay, indeed, a time when metal was anathema to all that was considered to be “chic” and “in.” A time when your favorite bands were actually encouraged by the music industry to play slower, cut their hair, and write sensitive lyrics about their childhoods. Yes, this unfortunately really happened. 

Our semi-irregular feature “90s Metal Weirdness” focuses on albums released between 1992 and 2001 and which we all probably would rather forget. But in the service of publicly shaming the musicians involved, we have pushed forward. — AMG

W.A.S.P.: Kill.Fuck.Die (1997)

WASP Kill Fuck Die 01The Back Story: I would bet that the genesis of Kill.Fuck.Die is when Blackie Lawless turned on the TV one day, saw concerned moms and religious fanatics freaking out over Marilyn Manson, and said “wait a minute, that’s MY fuckin’ job!”

The other half of the origin story is the return of infamous lead guitarist Chris Holmes. Most of us just assumed he was dead after watching Decline of Western Civilization Part 2, but somehow Holmes and his liver survived, and rejoined W.A.S.P. in time to participate in the making of Kill.Fuck.Die.

What Does It Sound Like: As if the blurry cover art didn’t tip you off, KFD is W.A.S.P. attempting a more industrial sound. Vocals are run through distortion, guitar tones are deliberately shitty, and drummer Stet Howland sounds suspiciously like a drum machine on most of this record. In fact, KFD sounds more like a low-budget demo than an album. I can picture Lawless and Holmes hunkered down in some sweaty hotel room with guitars and a computer, vaguely aware that the 1990s are turning their careers into pure shit, yet recording this album anyway.

The title track opens the record with some screechy rave keyboards, leading into a nearly-verbatim ripoff of Nine Inch Nails‘ “Head Like A Hole,” which is then somewhat redeemed by a huge, shout-along chorus. “Take the Addiction” utilizes a generic ’90s guitar riff and tone, attempts to build a W.A.S.P. song around it, and never quite succeeds. “Kill Your Pretty Face” is a slow-building epic, not far removed from the Crimson Idol material if you can ignore all the 2nd-rate Trent Reznor-isms in the mix.

It’s a testament to Lawless’ songwriting prowess that he was incapable of writing shitty tunes, even while trying to. Underneath the faux-industrial paint job, the structure beneath is still pretty much classic W.A.S.P., with all the anthemic bombast that entails. If someone were to remix KFD and strip away all the dated production, tracks like “My Tortured Eyes” and “Wicked Love” could hold their own against the band’s other early-’90s work.

If Holmes’ return had any musical significance, it’s rendered moot by the general absence of lead guitar. When Holmes finally busts into a solo on the otherwise useless “U,” it’s refreshing enough to almost distract from the idiotic lyrics (sample: “You fucking suck!”, repeated many times). Like Motley Crue‘s industrial clusterfuck Generation Swine, KFD boasts the return of a key band member but squanders it by avoiding the sound that would be expected of such a reunion.

Are There Any Songs About Molestation? As with many W.A.S.P. tunes, a lot of these songs seem to be about killing people and/or fucking them (hence the title). I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that everyone on the receiving end is at least 18 years old.

Stupid Political Lyrics? Lawless has occasionally written lyrics that are topical or issue-driven, but none are to be found here. KFD seems to be extremely personal and intensely angry. The Wiki entry on this album states that both Lawless and Holmes had gone through bad breakups prior to this album, which puts a lot of the lyrics into perspective.

Were Haircuts Involved? Conveniently, W.A.S.P. already looked like the bands they were trying to imitate (some of whom grew up on W.A.S.P. themselves, I bet). In an era where vinyl pants, eyeliner and goth imagery were the norm, Blackie and co. fit right in with minimal wardrobe upgrades. I vaguely recall that the chainsaw codpiece was temporarily retired during this era, although maybe Steel Druhm can confirm or deny this [I’m an editor, not a codpiece expert, dammit!Steel “Codpiece” Druhm].

The Aftermath: While far from terrible, KFD represents the low point in a 30+ year discography that’s otherwise remarkably consistent sonically (if not quality-wise). W.A.S.P. wisely dropped the industrial elements for their next record, Helldorado, and gradually returned to more or less their signature sound. Holmes eventually quit again, pursuing a solo career that has earned much YouTube mockery. Meanwhile, W.A.S.P. carries on, with Lawless’ newfound Christian faith and advancing age barely affecting their sound. Their new album Golgotha is out now and it’s quite good.

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  • This and Helldorado are the bitter dregs of what is a pretty solid catalog spanning nearly 4 decades.

    • You wot m8?

      Four decades of codpieces?

      • That would be a great title for Blackie’s autobiography.

        • Dr_Fisting

          Blackie always reminds me of that one old Eddie Murphy bit:
          Doctor: “So, you’re saying it burns when you urinate?”
          Eddie: “No, fire shoots out of my dick.”

    • CarvedInStone

      Agree on KFD (although the album has surprisingly many defenders) but disagree on Helldorado. That was a return to form IMO.

      • eloli

        After buying KFD, I gave up on WASP. I got Helldorado as a present from a very dear friend when it was released, and enjoyed it, but found it a bit forced, even if Don’t Cry, Just Suck is the kind of song title that always puts a smile on my face. That said, I doubt I could ever enjoy WASP’s current incantation because of Blackie’s current beliefs. Not that I have anything against christian metal (I love Trouble and Place of Skulls, for example), is just that this particularly brand of reactionary, born again christianity turns me off completely. Also, just as I found bands that were celebrating underage poon on one album suddenly get all preoccupied with child abuse on the next one really pathetic (Motley Crue being the worst offender in this regard), I find it really, really sad that a guy who bragged about fuckin’ like a beast and getting blind from alcohol poisoning starts acting like Ned Flanders. What’s next, a holy communion dispensing codpiece? :D

        • sweetooth0

          my buddy almost broke down in tears when I told him Blackie turned born again. horrible

        • Dr_Fisting

          If the communion codpiece becomes a real thing, then I am definitely going to see them on tour!

          • eloli

            It’s been a real thing for years among the catholic church.
            (Talk about jokes that write themselves) :D

        • CarvedInStone

          I understand that. And in other bands it bothers me too. Mustaine’s bigotry pretty much ruined listening to Megadeth for me. And I’m pretty sure that Dave and Blackie probably share a lot of the same believes. Fortunately Blackie isn’t nearly as outspoken about his believes and worldview than Mustaine is. Or at least it doesn’t get reported on as much. That makes it easier for me to block that out while listening to their music.

          • eloli

            I was born into a staunchly catholic family, yet the impression they left me is that being a good christian is mostly about charity and being a decent human being, not about being a dick towards people who don’t share your views. In fact, my family never gave me any shit whatsoever about my “questionable” hobbies (mainly heavy metal and gore cinema), my agnostic views or my partying when I was a kid, since they considered me a thoughtful and decent person. IMO, most christians from are pretty sensible and decent human beings, it’s the militant zealots (most of them of the born again evangelical persuasion) the ones who give religious people such a shitty name.

        • Maleficent

          Did you ever think that people grow up and change? No band is piss and vinegar until they die, and I mean that in a good way. Evolving is nice as well, look how Iron Maiden did it. There’s nothing wrong with being true to yourself, and you are missing out.

          • eloli

            Yup, I’ve grown up and changed too.
            At 43, I’m not the same guy I was at 14, when I first heard WASP.
            But here’s the thing: what originally attracted me to WASP was their rebellious, fuck authority, let’s talk about all those thing that alarm adults things. I was 14 then. Now, as an adult, I find that pretty, shall we say, immature, but at the same time, I still love that music because it still resonates with me and connects me to my youth.
            On the other hand, seeing Blackie Lawless, once the nightmare of tight assed evangelical assholes become a tight assed evangelical asshole, and that being reflected in his music, is beyond sad to me, there’s no way I can feel any connection to his music, even if he’s singing, maturity wise, from a much closer place to where I am now than during his 80s heyday.
            Same with Dave Mustaine.
            See, what most artists don’t understand is that fans connect with their music for a reason, and when they change their music, this audience connection might change, and they might loose their fans.
            For example, IMO, what made Opeth so great is the way they seamlessly blended melodic death metal with 70s prog. That’s what Opeth was all about, IMO, and most of their heavy metal fan base seem to agree. IMO, their golden age was from My Arms Your Hearse to Deliverance, since through this period this sound was fully developed and the songwriting was top notch; Orchid and Morningrise, while great albums on their own, had looser songwriting and sometimes both musical sides sounded a little forced together. Ghost of Perdition and Watershed, IMO were good albums, but veered too heavily into prog rock. After Heritage, I gave up on the band, not because I think their music’s bad or anything (this band is incapable or recording a band album), it’s simply because they sound like a 70s prog band, and that’s not what I want to hear from Opeth. If I want 70s prog, I can listen to ELP, Pink Floyd, Yes, Rush, Genesis, Camel or Van der Graf Generator.
            Same case with Mötley Crüe. Guys who grew up in the 80s, like me, wanted to party, have a good time, and scandalize our parents and teachers for singing openly about taboo (at that time) subjects such as sex and drugs. When grunge hit, the band tried to adapt and recorded a pretty good grunge album that touched all the grunge lyrical cliches, and it flopped because that’s not what people wanted from the Crüe.
            And, if you have to touch the subject of Maiden, IMO, they’re at this point the Rolling Stones of metal: they’re milking their golden 80s past through thematic tours (and hey, they deserve it, their a great band that delivers the goods live) while their post reunion albums have devolved into self indulgent, boring messes.
            You know, I got into Maiden in 1984, being 11 years old. Killers was the first lp I bought with my own money. The Number of the Beast is one of my 10 desert island albums, and will always be. But at the same time, I find Book of Souls (which I bought out of fan loyalty, btw, like I do with every Maiden studio release) almost unlistenable, to me, it seems like a half assed album of great ideas that pop up every now and then but nobody wanted to really work on them very much.
            My point is very simple: artist have the right to grow up and change, but their audiences don’t have an obligation to follow them through.
            Life works that way, sometimes, you just drift apart from people and it’s inevitable.
            For example, my cousin was my best friend through childhood, adolescence and my early to mid twenties. In our early 30s, I got married, he chose to stay single.
            We’re both 43 right now, but even if we love each other a lot, we simply don’t have that much in common: my life is all about working, studying, taking care of my daughters and using my precious free time to exercise or have a date night with my wife.
            While he works as hard (or even harder than me), his life revolves mostly around gourmet cooking, his microbrewery and home distilling enterprise and going out with his friends three or four times a week.
            So, even if everything’s great between us (he’s actually the godfather of my eldest daughter) we have kind of drifted apart from each other, and the truth is that our shared past is what keeps us together at it this point.
            And that’s what I think is exactly what happens with my relationship with a lot of bands.
            So, every time an artist hits the “fans can’t accept that I have changed as a person and evolved”, I call bullshit.
            You can evolve and change all you want, but first, ask yourself if this evolution is the product of a genuine artistic need or simply an effort to stay relevant on a changing music landscape.
            If you’re simply trying to stay relevant, you must understand that it’s always a risky move, audiences and fan bases are very fickle.
            If you’re following your muse, you must understand that art is never a one way process. An artist might put all his(er) emotional energy on a new project, but that doesn’t assure that the audience will follow, especially if it has already spent a lot of emotional energy on previous oeuvres that were different to what you’re offering now.

          • Maleficent

            Too much to read, too little time. You can answer people in 1-2 sentences without rambling on like that.. All I can say is you either accept his choice, or you move on. His life, his rules. And he isn’t a tight-assed evangelical, he’s far from that. I did see that sentence popping out.

          • eloli

            No one’s putting a gun to your chest and forcing you to read my long ramblings. :D
            And you’re wrong, born again evangelical christians are tight assed by definition. Fuck them all, they need a good cheek spread. :D

          • Maleficent

            Yawn.

          • Cha Cha

            She’s a total piece of shit. Don’t waste your breath.

          • Cha Cha

            You are a piece of dogshit.

  • Martin Knap

    I guess the other option was to learn Japanese and move there as Marty Friedman did…

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    That would be a Buzz saw codpiece, not a chainsaw codpiece. I´m no codpiece expert either, dammit!

  • Wilhelm

    It’s obvious that Blackie & crew were listening to a lot of reznor at the time, I always want to sing the NIN lyrics to KFD haha

    NIN’s head like a hole
    “you can’t take it, no you can’t take it, no you can’t take that away from me”

    KFD
    “you can’t take it, no you won’t take it, no you can’t take the pain away”

    • Dr_Fisting

      Yeah, they were cutting it a little close there.

  • Dennis Thomsen

    This album was awesome. It really was. A failure was say, Danzig’s attempt to be industrial… blackacidevil anyone? …KFD here was actually listenable if you ask me.

    • Dr_Fisting

      BlackAcidDevil is fucking terrible, and deserves its own 90sMW someday. Perhaps when Danzig’s new record drops?

      • We can’t offend Slayer AND Danzig, can we?

        • Refined-Iron Cranium

          Leave midget goth Elvis alone!

    • De2013

      Ouch…. there are some good songs on it. Come to Silver, 13 come to mind.

      However it’s the Danzig album I listen to the least.

    • eloli

      Totally agree… Blackacidevil is one of the two the only albums I got rid of after buying in my whole entire life.

  • Lasse Momme

    That Chris Holmes music video is absolutely amazing.

    • Martin Knap

      don’t forget to subscribe to his channel.

      • Lasse Momme

        … I really don’t want to.

    • CarvedInStone

      Best thing is that the linked video isn’t even the worst of his stuff. That accolade goes the the masterpiece that is the “They All Lie and Cheat”. It is the perfect blend of misogyny, terrible songwriting, terrible production and Holmes inability to hold a tune to save his life. And if the montage of pictures in the end is any indication then Holmes is a conspiracy nut as well.

  • SelfIndulgence

    The last WASP album I ever listened to. I walked away from the band after this album since it really sounded like they were done. I was just thinking about this album recently and by some strange universal magic you post this.
    After reading the St. Druhm review recently I realized I may be missing out on something. Time to find out what.

    • CarvedInStone

      Pick any album that was released after K.F.D. and you won’t be disappointed. W.A.S.P. are one of the few Hair Metal bands that, apart from a few stinkers, have continuously released decent material. But skip the two Neon God albums. They’re not worth it.

      • I would beg to differ on the Neon God albums. Though they aren’t as strong as The Crimson Idol and at times feel a bit forced, there are some good tunes on both albums.

        • CarvedInStone

          If you would pick the best song from both Part 1 and two you would get a decent album. But the two albums the way they were released are utterly forgettable. I don’t recommend buying them separately unless you find them cheap. Unfortunately they never released a set with both albums (at least not to my knowledge).

  • Chris Timbó

    Never heard the actual album, but the tracks that ended up on Double Live Assassins are ok in my book.

  • sweetooth0

    This was the first WASP album I heard, and honestly I still like it to this day.

  • Mark

    Did anyone catch the show when they toured KFD? That was a show I will never forget. First half was in your face WASP, then they went dark and played cuts from KFD with a real freak show that was…. awesome.
    When I found out Blackie was “born-again”, I was amazed considering what I saw in that show.

  • Alex Lilly

    Am I the only one who remembers a story about Blackie having a codpiece that shot flames at one point, and that he once strapped it on the wrong way round and received major burns out the back (so to speak)? Or am I hallucinating?

  • Jase

    WASP were always shit and always will be.