W.A.S.P. by Ross Halfin (Book Review)


If you were undergoing a Word Association Test and someone mentioned “heavy metal”, you’d probably think of W.A.S.P. With their outlandish persona, shock rock theatrics, and provocative songs, they seemed (especially in their early years) to encapsulate all that was great about heavy metal. Legendary photographer Ross Halfin captured the band during their ‘80s heyday, and it’s finally been documented in this lavish 298-page book, W.A.S.P. by Ross Halfin.

When I was a young all round metal dude and buying all the metal periodicals (Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, RAW) it seemed that Ross Halfin’s photographs were as much a part of my youth as the bands he was shooting. Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Iron Maiden and Metallica are just some of the acts he worked with, but surely the most photogenic were Los Angeles’ W.A.S.P., and if proof were ever needed then crack open the cover of this new book. Inside you’ll find hundreds of pictures that capture the band in their pomp and glory, with many unpublished and unseen…until now.

Before we get lewd with the photographs, Ross provides a forward, as do Rod Smallwood (former band manager) and Chris Holmes (band’s guitarist throughout this period). Chris also provides notes throughout the book, providing context and background story where required. In fact, if you want some of metal’s best tales, they’re all here, and if you’ve ever wondered why some guitarists wear shin guards…well you’ll have to buy the book.

Such was the relationship that Ross built up with bands, (he often went on tour with them) he was allowed access to their most private and intimate moments. Alongside the shots you’d expect of W.A.S.P. rocking stages across the globe, (including the inside scoop on their infamous Donington appearance in ‘87, again, you’ll have to buy the book) you also get shots of the band in less guarded moments. You’ll find them chilling backstage, posing in the Hollywood Hills, dripping blood on Boris Karloff’s star (on the Walk Of Fame) or hanging out with elephants (really!). However, on stage was W.A.S.P.’s natural environment and this book captures them in all their blood-drenched, sweat-soaked, pyrotechnic-blinding glory.

Just like the bands he photographed, Ross Halfin had his very own signature style, and his pictures defined a whole generation of rock music. If you want to own some of those photographs, beautifully reproduced, they’re all here in W.A.S.P. by Ross Halfin.