GWAR

"Battle Maximus" (Metal Blade; 2013)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

With their garish make-up, outrageous costumes, offensive lyrics and so-far-over-the-top live shows, it's always been tempting to dump Gwar in the comic book bands genre, where the big show comes first and the music doesn't really matter.

Except that they've really never let you do that. Instead, it seems that virtually every Gwar album has had a killer track or explosive riff that digs into your brain like the claws of a demon and makes you realize, at least once during every album, that this is a really good rock band, and not just a great rock show. Check out my reviews of previous Gwar albums and you'll get an idea of where I'm coming from.

"Battle Maximus," Gwar's 13th album, and the first to feature new guitarist Pustulus Maximus (taking over for the late Flattus Maximus) is the band's best album in years. If you told me a decade ago that'd I be calling the new Gwar album my favorite album of the year, I probably would have told you you're crazy. But, ever since the very first listen-through to "Battle Maximus," that's exactly what I'm thinking. And I've listened to the album a dozen times now.

Loaded with the stuff that makes a Gwar album just that, "Battle Maximus" is full of driving guitar, roaring vocals and lyrics that will make you laugh out loud at their direct intent to offend. But there's also a more melodic side than we've heard on previous Gwar albums (and remember, folks, "melodic" is relative here) and some moments when some genuine emotion sneaks in. "Battle Maximus" is as much a tribute to the fallen Flattus Maximus (Cory Smoot, who was found dead on the band's tour bus in 2011) as it is a chest-thumping announcement that the new Gwar has arrived. It's a solid album from start to finish. My favorite track, "Madness in the Core of Time," comes in early as the second track in, but the album never flags from that point on.

Not only are the fret fireworks of Pustulus (Cannibis Corpse guitarist Brent Purgason) explosive and sharp here, I don't think Oderus Urangus has ever sounded better. Urungus (Dave Brockie) even sounds great on the booming ballad, "Falling" and delivers a little more range than usual on other tracks as well. And the rhythm section is kicking some serious ass, too, with some of the most thunderous drumming I've heard on an album this year.

Gwar has been around a long time and, if they keep writing and recording music as powerful and as fun as "Battle Maximus" -- to say nothing of their unmatched live show -- they're going to be around for a lot longer. And that's just fine with me.

For more information, check out www.gwar.net

"Bloody Pit of Horror" (Metal Blade; 2010)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Celebrating their 25th year of invading Earth, Dave Brockie and his associates who comprise the mighty Gwar continue to churn out comedically-driven theatrical heavy metal on their latest 11-track endeavor, "Bloody Pit of Horror."

Championing their novelty status to the hilt while producing salacious slabs of explosive metal in the process (“Storm is Coming”), Gwar may be best known for their outlandish look and circus-like live show, but their music has seen a significant upgrade in the last few years. Locking in with a hammering thrash metal precision, the musicians underneath the costumes have stepped up their game considerably in the last few releases, and retain the same spirit here with a barrage of tasty double barrel riffs (“A Gathering of Ghouls”) and a punkish metal charm (“Beat You to Death") firmly planted within the band’s outrageous framework.

Gwar has morphed into a band with both nasty effects and nasty riffs fueling their intergalactic chaotic chicanery.

For more information, check out www.gwar.net

"Beyond Hell" (DRT; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

If for some reason you're not sure what to expect when you purchase a new GWAR album, the photos inside the awesome Limited Edition version of "Beyond Hell" will certainly give you some idea way before you insert the CD into your player. There are full color photos of each band member, a complete lyric sheet (with a story that links all of the songs on the CD together) with a full color mini-poster of the band on the flip side. 

Of course, if you're not sure what to expect of GWAR, you probably won't be buying "Beyond Hell" anyway.

If you are familiar with GWAR, then you'll know that "Beyond Hell" is more of what you've come to expect from the band. Outrageous lyrics that offend anyone and everyone on the planet, songs about slaughter and kinky sex, and a speed/thrash metal sound that's on the verge of being out of control but that hangs in there ... but only just. The closest the band comes to mainstream is a mostly straight-forward cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out," 

New GWAR sounds like old GWAR and that's a good thing because that's what all GWAR fans want. That and the band's legendary live show, which includes gallons of fake blood, semen, vomit and other bodily fluids. At least we hope it's fake.

Bottom line here is that "Beyond Hell" is as good as any previous GWAR release. If you enjoy the band's outrageous antics and uber offensive lyrics, then this is yet another GWAR CD you'll want to add to your collection.

As mentioned above, there are two versions of this disc: The standard edition and the Limited Edition which contains a bonus DVD of the band performing live.

GWAR: Balsac, The Jaws of Death - guitars; Beefcake, the Mighty - bass; Oderus Urungus - bellowing; Jizmak da Gusha - drums; Flattus Maximum - guitar.

For more information, check out www.gwar.net

"War Party" (DRT; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Rock's most politically incorrect band returns with a politically charged CD that may be more substantial than their previous releases but that also lacks some of the band's goofy energy and silliness. The trade-off is an equal one but fans may be disappointed that -- for the most part -- "War Party" doesn't reach the levels of outrageousness that previous CDs did (or, for that matter, any of Dave Brockie's solo CDs either). 

Still, like Gwar CDs, "War Party" delivers in the speed metal / thrash department, with the band ripping through consistently entertaining slabs of noise. Most of the time, it's tight and heavy (as on "Krosstika," "Womb with a View" and the title track) but sometimes the songwriting gets a little messy (as on "Bring Back the Bomb" and "The Bonus Plan." Of course, in Gwar's case, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

As with any Gwar CD, a highlight is lead vocalist Oderus Urungus (aka Dave Brockie) who delivers his monstrous growl with more attitude and menace than virtually anyone.

Gwar tends to get pigeon-holed as one of those bands that's all about the show and there may be some truth to that. But they're also a talented bunch of musicians who know what their audience is looking for ... and they know how to give it to them.

GWAR: Balsac, The Jaws of Death - guitars; Beefcake, the Mighty - bass; Oderus Urungus - bellowing; Jizmak da Gusha - drums; Flattus Maximum - guitar.

For more information, check out www.gwar.net

"Violence Has Arrived" (Metal Blade; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Violence Has Arrived" is everything you could possibly want in a GWAR album: extreme heavy metal, battle- and blood-laden lyrics, tons of controversy and, of course, a bitchin' cover (in this case, a CD insert that opens into a killer poster that you'll be tempted to pin to your wall).

A simple list of song titles will give you an idea of what you're in store for here: "Battle Lust," "Anti-Anti-Christ," "The Apes of Wrath," "Licksore," "Biledriver," "Happy Death-Day." A couple of sample lyrics will define it even more:
"I gaze through the mist at the approaching host
My hand finds the hilt of my sword
Soon they are sundered, their bodies we roast
Their leader is hacked, mauled and gored."
(from "Battle Lust")

I was going to quote from "Licksore," too, but I'll save that little surprise for the CD.

Bottom line: If you're a GWAR fan, you're going to love "Violence Has Arrived" as much as anything the band has ever done. If you've never heard the band before, do yourself a favor: First, pick up this CD. Second, don't miss the live show! The combination is the definitive GWAR.

GWAR is: Oderus Urungus - vocals; Jizmak Da Gusha - drums; Flattus Maximus - guitar; Balsac The Jaws of Death - guitar; Beefcake The Mighty - bass. 

Or: Dave Brockie - vocals; Mike Derks - guitar; Zach Blair - guitar; Brad Roberts - drums; Casey Orr - bass.

For more information, check out http://www.gwar.net

"We Kill Everything" (Metal Blade; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

A GWAR album isn't so much a new rock'n'roll record as it is a soundtrack for the insanity performed during their stage show (click here to read our review). "We Kill Everything" is no exception. Let's just list a few song titles, shall we? "Fishfuck," "Jiggle the Handle," "Jagermonsta," "My Girly Ways," "The Master Has a Butt," "Penile Drip" and a few others that will cause the album to be banned in dozens of countries across the globe. Get the picture?

Is it good? That depends on your definition of "good." It rocks pretty hard, using every possible rock hook and cliché to grab your attention. The lyrics are disgusting yet utterly hilarious. And the costumes look like someone took the monsters from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and addicted them to crack cocaine.

In other words, if you're looking for inspiration and enlightenment, you'd better  stick with your U2 CDs - GWAR just wanna have fun.

As a soundtrack to their outrageous stage show, "We Kill Everything" is as good a rock opera as you're likely to get these days. Imagine that - instead of The Who's "Tommy," someone took a classic sci-fi movie from the 50s, filled it with profanity, gore and obscenities, and set it to heavy metal. That's GWAR. Love it or hate it. If you're easily offended, don't even finish reading this review. (For that matter, if you're easily offended, go to another website).

GWAR is (and I've been anxiously waiting for this part): Oderus Urungus, throat; Balsac the Jaws of Death, guitar; Jizmak Da Gusha, drums; Beefcake the Mighty, bass; Flattus Maximus, guitar; Slymenstra Hymen, fire and vocals; Musel, keyboards. Also featured are Sexecutioner; Sleazy P. Martini; Techno Destructo; Gor Gor; Scroda Moon; Nathan Brown; Greg Ottinger; Scott Frock; Mike Bishop; Tim Harriss.

For more information, visit GWAR on the net (if their website hasn't been forced to come down - again) at http://www.gwar.net

"This Toilet Earth" (Metal Blade; 1994)

Reviewed by Snidermann

What can you say about GWAR that hasn't already been said? This band truly must be experienced -- both by listening to their recorded music and by going to see a live performances -- to be believed. Check out our review of a 1999 GWAR concert by clicking here. A GWAR concert is really hard to put into words, but our esteemed editor R. Scott Bolton does a very good job of capturing the essence of the show. 

As with each and every GWAR CD, "This Toilet Earth" is completely unabashed and unafraid to say (or do) anything to get your attention. GWAR has no qualms about saying anything they want to say. There are no sacred cows here. It's as though someone took Political Correctness, murdered it with an ax and left it  in a ditch somewhere to die. A quick review of song titles makes this point as well as anything else: "Saddam a Go Go," "Penis I See," "Insidious Soliloquy of Skulhed Face" and more.

If you don't know anything else about GWAR,  check out www.gwar.net for a complete primer. Here's an excerpt from the band's website to get you started: " The Legend of GWAR began millions of years ago when the aliens rampaged across the galaxy with a gang of space pirates called the Scumdogs of the Universe. Falling out of favor with their Master, GWAR was imprisoned on the most remote mudball planet in the galaxy ... Earth. After killing off the dinosaurs and inadvertently creating the human species by raping prehistoric apes ... "

And so on. You get the idea.

GWAR's "This Toilet Earth" is a living and breathing cartoon (for adults, of course) that is a virtual paradise of irreverent songs and off the wall antics. It's that blend of humor and all-out speed metal that keeps me interested in what GWAR comes up with next. 

GWAR: Flattus Maximus, Sexecutioner, Jizmak da Gusha, Slymenstra Hyman, Oderus Urugus, Beefcake the Mightly, Balsac and Sleazy P. Martini. 

For more information, check out www.gwar.net

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2013 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 19 Feb 2017 18:25:01 -0500.