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GWAR War Party

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Friday, November 19, 2004 @ 0:23 AM


(DRT Entertainment)

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Imagine, your worst nightmare come to life—not the one where you’re on the receiving end of a hand job given by Phyllis Diller either—no, what I’m talking about here is the one you have every other month or so… when you aren’t thinking about sex with geriatrics. You know, the one with the five musicians standing onstage in monster suits who proceed to play a voluminous brand of metal while spewing blood over your weakened, violated body. Just before consciousness fades into the darkness, you vaguely make out the following sounds…

“ARRRGH.”

“GRRRRILKGRA.”

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Yep, those are the scary noises these guys would make in between lyrics. After all, it is important for dreams to have audio. If you’re reading this though, you already know this scenario is actually a reality at a GWAR show… this, along with a variety of other assorted perversions. Of course, the downside to having this type of fantastic on-stage debauchery is that there is always the danger that it will overshadow the music. Think about it--the usual metalhead conversation regarding this band generally goes like this:

“You like GWAR?”

“Uh, you mean that band where everyone dresses up and they shoot blood into the audience? The one with the giant, fake penis?”

“Yeah.”

“They’re pretty good live. I haven’t heard any of their records though.”

The dialogue generally ends there. Truth be told, it would be difficult to not have GWAR’s songs be overshadowed with a lineup consisting of extraterrestrial detritus such as Oderus Urungus, Beefcake the Mighty, Jizmak Da Gusha, Flattus Maximus and Balsac, The Jaws of Death. Then, when one considers the fact that this group chooses to use their music as a forum to engage in political and social commentary rather than the standard fare focusing on eight thousand ways to decapitate a fish, and what the music fan is left with is a band that is difficult to define. Luckily though, we have the group’s latest release, War Party, to attempt to accomplish just that as it provides an auditory glimpse into what GWAR has evolved into in the year 2004.

The disc begins with “Bring Back the Bomb,” which is essentially a thunderous, tongue in cheek ode to mass destruction. Lyrics like, “who gives a fuck about nuclear war? Let bombs explode because that’s what they’re for!” are gutturally shrieked by Urungus as Jizmak’s drums keep a steady, consistent pace. The rocking continues during the follow up, “Krosstika.” This selection discusses the topic of fascism—albeit violently—as track two conjures up images of violence, blood and debauchery. Ultimately, GWAR states that the Swastika and the Cross represent “Two great hates that hate great together.” To conclude this triumvirate of mayhem, “Womb With a View” comes along and slams the entire universe with its heavy, blood-spewing aggression. It is the most intense tune on the disc and certainly one of the most significant selections this band has created in the last five years. It’s just too bad the subject of this song doesn’t center around the justification of Bible belt churchgoers who assert that abortion is patently wrong whilst half their congregation can be found on any given Saturday night in a field jamming their throbbing, hot peters in the rear end of an unsuspecting pigs and chickens. The hillbilly-livestock boning would sound remarkably like---you guessed it…

“ARRRGH.”

“GRRRRILKGRA.”

Tracks four through six are nearly as quality-laden as the first three. “Decay of Grandeur” is a tempest of chaos, death and decay. In “War Party” the group addresses the act of combat and the eventual reality of death:

“You did your job with skill,
You raped and killed,
Why so surprised,
That you finally got billed?”

On each of these tracks, Oderus takes it up a notch by growling even lower while producing some of the most convincing otherworldly expressions that an Earthling is ever likely to hear. “Bonecrusher” features the best drumming on the disc and qualifies as a quality piece of rock regardless of what universe you inhabit.

The last five songs consists of “Lost God,” which keeps a consistent pace, but it is still a bit of a letdown from what proceeded it. “The Reagonator” follows and comes equipped with a measured, barking lyrical cadence, but, even at that, it isn’t one of the stronger tracks on the record. “The Bonus Plan” is a slight change of pace as Urungus delivers the lyrics in French which does, in fact, make the selection more interesting. War Party concludes in brutal fashion with “You Can’t Kill Terror” and “Fistful of Teeth.” Overall, the last group of songs isn’t quite as satisfying as the first, but it is still better material than the band produced on some of their previous work. The tone is always loud, unapologetic and unwilling to conform. The guitar work is also more pronounced on War Party and adds a nice compliment to these slices of metal from the outer galaxy.

Many GWAR fans were turned off by some of the experimentation the group engaged in during the records, This Toilet Earth, Ragnarok and Chronicles of Chaos. Instead of following in the footsteps of those works, War Party more closely resembles Violence Has Arrived—an offering thought by many to have been a return to form—so for this to be viewed in a similar fashion is a definite plus. What makes this effort especially singular is it’s social commentary on everything from organized religion to the needless debacle known as Iraq. Since GWAR’s main objective is to destroy the human race, maybe they should start by making sure that their tour itinerary consists of numerous stops to all the southern and Midwest states—otherwise noted by the electoral map in red--well, wait a minute, if those populations suddenly dissolved, stock in NASCAR, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Skoal would doubtlessly fall into a dramatic tailspin. The failure of these white trash industries would certainly lead the entire country into a recession. Now that Bush got elected (not RE-elected, just elected) we need all the economic help we can get. In any case, I hope the boys from GWAR can thin some of more aspects of society out—even if it’s just a little bit. Think about it, all they have to do is listen to the sounds emanating from the local farms.

“ARRRGH!”

“GRRRRILKGRA!”

What this band’s legacy within the metal pantheon will eventually be remains to be seen. Whether they eventually are seen by headbangers as a viable, heavy musical force or merely a pre-Slipknot clown act should ultimately be determined by the group’s recorded works. The good news for the band is that War Party is the type of record that could only serve to enhance the chance of GWAR being seen as much more than a cartoonish live entity.

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