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I have a problem. How do you review GWAR? Focus too heavily on the merits of the music, and you'll surely miss the point. Equally, however, if the songs fall short of remaining in the memory cells, then even the most forgiving of GWAR fans will dismiss it; I gave up on GWAR in about 1996 (their peak for me being 1992's 'America Must Be Destroyed') once they went a little 'Mr Bungle'. The catchiness and immediacy of their earlier works gave way to a cavalcade of cross-genre wackiness, which ultimately meant the albums suffered from a lack of focus. GWAR themselves have even disowned at least one of their previous albums. So, in an era of bands returning to their roots and delivering almost career-best recordings, where do GWAR sit these days? Incredibly, GWAR have created a metal album of surprising technical ability and expert song-craft, whilst retaining the satirical and slapstick comedy. Opener 'Lust in Space' is as epic as it is humourous ("...her nebula was crawling with crabs"), with layer upon layer of melody and tech-thrash making this truly one of their greatest songs. Follow-up 'Let Us Slay' is a marked return to their crossover roots, at times sounding a little like genre heavy-weights Suicidal Tendencies (especially Dave Brockie's voice). 'Damnation under God' too is full of melody and off-kilter structuring, at times showcasing an almost-Metalcore feel. Of course, it is the humour that always sets apart GWAR, more so than copycats Lordi (who reside in Pantomime Town, hopefully bereft of an audience by now). Before listening to this album I scanned Youtube for some of their earlier interviews, and there is a wonderful piece on Joan Rivers' chat show circa 1990(ish). Even in the band's formative years their wit was well-developed; almost stand-up/anecdotal in its structure. Today the wit is still as sharp, if a little less obviously offensive than before; 'B.D.F' for example from 1994's 'This Toilet Earth' being a prime example - to the point it was removed from later pressings. 'Metal Metal Land' may just replace 'Rock 'n' Roll Never Felt So Good' as the band's funkiest song (and funniest). So, and perhaps due in part by the return of Casey Orr on bass, GWAR have crafted, if not their greatest, one of their very best albums yet. Casual metal fans, whilst perhaps wondering what the lyrics are all about, will eat up the melodic and technical crossover thrash. Long-time fans will be thankful that the days of 'We Kill Everything' are over. Long may they rule our pathetic lives.
AFM Records
Review by Steve Cowan
24th August 2009
1) Lust In Space
2) Let Us Slay
3) Damnation Under God
4) The UberKlaw
5) Lords and Masters
6) Metal Metal Land
7) The Price of Peace
8) Where is Zog
9) Make a Child Cry
10) Release the Files
11) Parting Shot
"GWAR have created a metal album of surprising technical ability and expert song-craft, whilst retaining the satirical and slapstick comedy."