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You've got to admire the persistence of a band of space conquerors whose disgust for humanity has led them into an infinite cycle of showmanship and aural slaughter, but for far too long, Gwar had honestly screwed the pooch, fucked off from their excellent and memorable thrash roots to explore various other tones and sounds, most of which failed to truly complement their sense of humor. Well, at least for the past few records, Gwar realized that they were a fucking metal band with balls, space balls, and they've not only crossed the bridge back into the realm of extremity, but begun to expound on its possibilities. The gimmick may be well past the date of expiration, but for their 11th full-length, Bloody Pit of Horror, at least they're attempting to shove their styrofoam props right where they belong: where the sun don't shine, in your posterior.
What I'll first mention here is the guitar tone, it digs deep and pounds hard, causing your rectal walls and intestines to shudder in "Zombie March", "A Gathering of Ghouls" or "Storm is Coming". The drumming here is tight, and the bass audible, as are the many proper placements of gang shouts from beyond. From a technical standpoint, the band have never really sounded sharper, emitting riffs whose complexity, while not particularly novel, outshines even their best records of the 90s. They take chances, as in the brooding mosh slog of "Come the Carnivore" with its somber, chanting vocals; or the bouncy prog/thrash of "Sick and Twisted"; or the bad ass, almost New York styled street hardcore that drives the thrashing chorus of "Hail to Genocide". Together, it should all translate fluidly into the band's inevitable live gigs, where fluids of their own will be flying over the crowd as they recite decades of mocking history.
There is no doubt that Bloody Pit of Horror is the savage side of Gwar, and effective enough as a blunt instrument to steer the doubters back on the proper path of pitiful worship, but do the songs have the character of the classics? Any "Sick of You" in sight? Any "Maggots"? Any "Black and Huge"? Unfortunately, no. There is still the curve of bitter, biting sarcasm to their lyrics, but they seem far more straightforward, as if they were on the verge of transformation into a straight up thrash/death metal band. As if the suits were about to come off, like the gloves, and they were tired of fucking around. Outside of "Tick-Tits" or the moody climax of "You Are My Meat", I don't think I had to stifle even a single giggle. As for the songs themselves, their prompt and crushing ballast doesn't seem to yield the level of sticky riff-writing that could put them over the top, so we're left with bruises but no permanent injuries. And when I'm listening to a Gwar album, I'd prefer to be as metaphorically beaten as I would be by their stage props.
Growing up in the 90's, who hasn't heard of Gwar? I mean, they were the first band to dress the way they do - 5 members dressing as strange Space aliens come to destroy the world...with metal.They had much mainstream success with Scumdogs of the Universe and This Toilet Earth, as well as appearing on many talkshows, such as Jerry Springer and Joan Rivers. They have been targeted by the media for their often boisterous shows and disturbing lyrical topics. Like many other bands such as Slayer, Gwar's fanbase can be very loyal, and often annoying as well. Gwar has gone through many style changes, starting in Hardcore punk (Death Piggy), moving to metal, going to a weird middle period where they made strange music varying from Lounge music to poppy punk metal and finally catching their niche in the technical metal genre.
I first heard of Gwar from Beavis and Butthead, sadly. I remember the genesis game completely. It's quite difficult, but you end up going to the Gwar show and running around onstage and seeing the band play a song (in 8-bit), but it got me hooked. I instantly went out and bought Scumdogs of the Universe, arguably their best release. I listened to it for about a week straight and to this day, still listen to Gwar, whether it is the weird punk Gwar or the metal Gwar that everyone loves. I have even been to a few Gwar shows, and they are great.
As for the album, it was not what I expected. I was hoping for another Lust in Space-esque album, but what we got seemed to be more along the lines of Lust in Space meets Ragnarok, not that this is a bad thing, but it's definitely a downstep from Lust. The album opens with the song, "Zombies, March!", which is probably the best track on the album. The problem is that after this track, "Come the Carnivor" is a metal-ambient where it's basically two solid minutes of a slow drum beat with slow chords shouting "COME THE CARNIVOR!", which makes the album kind of slow down for a second before going into "A Gathering of Ghouls", another fast track. I would think that "Come the Carnivor" should be the first track, so that it doesn't slow down the mix.
As on the last album, this release was very tech, and sometimes experimental (Sick and twisted used drop third chords, as well as strange jazz-progressive beats). Flattus had many solos again and Jizmak had some sick drum fills, and overall used the double bass almost all the time. Instrumentally, the album is great, but still sub-par to what they are best at. Casey Orr has another song that he sings, being "Beat you to Death". Which was another great song, and I highly enjoyed it, especially since it opened with Flattus' wailing on his guitar. Orderous was great on the album, but the lyrics themselves seemed to not have much...oomph, I guess.
I guess my discrepancies are minor, but to a fan, they are important. I think that Bloody Pit of Horror will become one of the albums that I love, but at the same time that I under rate. Overall, the album is still better than We Kill Everything, possibly their worst and strangest album. I think this album has to grow on you, and if you are new to Gwar (as any Scumdog would say), don't start with this album, but rather with Scumdogs of the Universe or This Toilet Earth.
Highlights: Zombies, March!, A Storm is Coming, Beat You To Death, You Are My Meat, The Litany of the Slain