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GWAR’s discography is one of the most erratic in all of heavy metal-dom, fluctuating between goofball punk and groove-laden thrash with every genre imaginable in between making a guest appearance. Perhaps due to the band’s unique lineup situation (with the exception of vocalist Oderus Urungus, perpetually embodied by the mighty Dave Brockie, incoming members usually assume the role of the established characters, so you can never be too sure who is actually playing on any given release) or simply an experimental nature producing experimental results, no two albums sound quite the same. It’s an aspect both intriguing and frustrating as one works their way through the albums….will I be banging my head as if up from the dead or rolling my eyes as if un-amused? With this toilet album…probably a little bit of both.
Stylistically, This Toilet Earth is a bit less out-there than the previous effort, sounding more like the second coming of Hell-O with its weak production, surplus of throwaway tunes, and hardcore-emphasis. It’s a definite exercise in quantity over quality, spreading the winners a bit thinner than usual. There’s some funky stuff (“Pepperoni,” “Pocket Pool”), some punky stuff (“Jack the World,” “Krak Down,” “Fight”), and a lot you probably won’t care to remember, even after a few listens. It seems likes it was deliberately engineered to outdo the band’s other albums in terms of pure disposability, as though GWAR was just cranking this one out so they could get back out on the road and tour. With this I can sympathize: GWAR was designed to be experienced live. But the albums must still exist in the interim, and I just wish they’d have put more of an effort into this one. Besides, these days most of their 90’s stuff never gets performed anyway, leaving us with a ton of “chuckle once and recycle” tracks cluttering up a handful of albums that could make a killer greatest (s)hits collection with a little discretion.
As such, no GWAR album is without its classics. “Saddam A Go-Go” is a perfect opener, blending a horn section into the established GWAR rhythm madness. Skulhedface, a character that would come to deserve his own film, has a very interesting, insidious soliloquy, which features a hilariously corny showtune breakdown in the midst of a horde of riff changes. But as a whole, the album is not the resplendently quotable ordeal that many other GWAR albums are; even the intentionally offensive stuff like “BDF” and “Slap U Around” just aren’t quite up to snuff.
Fans of GWAR’s punkier essence might just disagree. I say flush it.
Ah, neat, neat...nice to see Gwar on the site. I've been ambivalent about their status of 'metalitude' for quite some time now, having downloaded several tracks from various albums and buying this one. I've noticed traces of being metal, but the overall vibe stretched closer to punk and hard rock. Heh, someone actually told me that Gwar is virtually what started nu-metal. I doubt that, though.
Anyway, this album is chock-full of utterly demented, slapstick humor from the scumdogs of the universe. Each track is infused with a cocky, arrogant, obnoxious punk spirit along with just enough metal to get by. Also, there are other musical nuances you can notice here, and that's what really sets this band and this album apart. Gwar truly are purveyors of diversity and ingenuity in their songwriting. For example, the awesome opening track "Saddam a Go-Go" has a percussive saxophone accompaniment; "The Insidious Soliloquy of Skulhedface" is almost the equivalent of a silly modern rock opera; "Slap U Around" has an undeniably exhilarating classic rock spirit and sound; and "The Obliteration of Flab Quarv 7" takes the route of an extended narration that's purposefully rushed, but sounds great in its apocalyptic atonality.
A lot of people don't like Gwar because of their lyrical content and lack of musical talent, but it doesn't bother me that much...plus, their humorous lyrics are very appealing. For example, a choice section of "Slap U Around" is the following: " I wake you up in the morning baby, with a kick in the tit. I treat you like shit, you love it!" I'm not a major supporter of misogynistic lyrics, but c'mon, this band isn't to be taken seriously. Also, I do think they actually have some talent, but it's not readily apparent...I believe they're holding back. You can't argue that they're not innovative, though.
I must also mention the vocals and the album layout. Oderus Urungus has a great voice, if you ask me. It's not classically good, nor does he have much range and talent, but he's perfect for the style of music that the band play. Much of the time, he has a semi-deep grunt kind of shouting and other times he uncovers his melodic sensibilities when he actually sings. The actual singing doesn't really stand out much, but it's nice to hear it juxtaposed with his normal style. Also of note are the occasional vocals of Slymenestra Hymen, the female member of the band.(I'm pretty sure it's her who does some of the vocals sometimes.) On tracks such as "Fight", you can hear her snarling, creaturish vocals which sound strangely stuck in the background. That's the only detriment to her singing on this album...it's just not loud and in-your-face enough. Not too much of a biggie, though.
On to the the album layout inside the sleeve...this is fucking cool. Haha. It features profiles of each of the band members with pictures of them fully garbed in their extraterrestrial stage outfits and showcases their answers to a series of very very odd questions, such as "LAST ORIFICE VIOLATED". God, all this reminds me of when I used to create imaginary characters on paper with similar profiles. I can't recall much right now, but just read everything---it's funny. In addition, the artwork besides much of the lyrics is downright weird, especially the scene covering two pages which features many creatures with their private parts censored. What the fuck?!! Haha.
So, in conclusion....is this the most technically brilliant, aggressive, emotional band in the world?....HELL FUCKING NO. But are they good?....HELL YEAH, BITCH. Anyways, the fact that they're not really the most talented band in the world is a bit of a nonentity because of their originality. I think you'd be very hard-pressed to find a band that sounds much like Gwar. They're just very distinctive like that.
Now, I've only to get my hands on some of their other albums...namely Violence Has Arrived, which allegedly has the band really turning up the technicality and aggression a few notches without losing the eccentric, twisted qualities that define them.