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Uh...Hell No - 32%

DawnoftheShred, August 22nd, 2007

I first heard of GWAR from the Beavis and Butthead game released on the Sega Genesis. The objective of the game was to reassemble the pieces of the duo’s accidentally shredded GWAR tickets in time for the sweetest concert of their lives. From that moment forth, the name GWAR was spoken with an air of intrigue. What sort of crazy band could have so fascinated those animated misfits that merely seeing them live could be the premise of an entire game? Well, had I been blessed with a bit more lucidity as a child, I might have reasoned that one of their favorite bands might bear some similarity to them in terms of crudeness and maturity. And so they are: GWAR are one of the most repugnant bands that ever was or will be.

Now I’ll openly admit to liking some of the band’s later material (Scumdogs, Ragnarok, as well as the occasional tune on the others), but this debut is the worst sort of filth. Whereas their later releases leaned more towards a metal sound, Hell-O rides off a haphazard punk vibe. The musicians behind the material are talented; occasionally their ability shines through the wall of noise (namely the bass player). But for the most part, this is low-fi, sloppy punk with the occasional Motorhead-esque rock ‘n’ roll passage. The guitar tone is flaccid and consistently outshined (and out-volumed) by the bass. Drumming is standard issue, as is the song construction. At least the songs are mercifully short. The only thing separating this from your average skate punk band of the day is the vocals. Oterus Urungus has a very unique voice, sort of a Jello Biafra meets Count Dracula meets the Ramones. He doesn’t sing all the songs (Techno Destructo sings his song in a rather matter-of-fact way), but he delivers the goods when he does. If this were all that had to be factored in, the album would have garnered at least around a 60 for being a decent punk album with a few nice solo moments and an exemplary bass player. But no, now we must address the lyrics.

Those unfamiliar with GWAR are unfortunately unfamiliar with the GWAR legacy and mythology. The band, in addition to creating an elaborate stage show with their trademark costumes and celebrity executions, wrote out a complex yet childish narrative of their mythical origins and never-ending quest. Of course, an inside joke is rarely funny to an outsider listener, but at times over their career their lyrics have actually managed to legitimately amuse me. This is not the case on Hell-O. GWAR has always been a band that surmounted their mediocre songs with over-the-top perversity, even from their earliest days. I don’t usually hurl a random-sounding slur of insults at an album I dislike, but the lyrics here (as well as many of their later lyrics, actually) sound like they were penned by an 8 year old boy with Tourette’s. Aside from no more than a shadow of a hint of political satire, the songs, regardless of what they’ve been titled or are supposed to be about, fishtail around randomly between explicit tales of violence, grotesque perversion, and absurd, impulsive non-sequiturs that so blatantly exist merely to keep a rhyme scheme going that Shel Silverstein would shit a brick wall (even though he’s dead) at the sight of them on paper. In short, it’s all one big gay fart joke. Sure, M.O.D. is pretty immature in their lyrical fodder, but this shit is just dumb. I can’t see anyone over the age of thirteen enjoying this, and I feel stupider just from having heard it. Seriously, worst lyrics ever (yes, even worse than Mr. Bungle). Read the words to “War Toy,” “Time for Death” or “Captain Crunch” if you don’t believe me; they’re the best examples.

If you’re the type that really doesn’t mind lyrical content, no matter how repulsive, add 30 points to the score I gave this. I have it marked down because I feel as though I’ve lost about that many points of IQ from this drivel. Hell-O is definitely not the place to start your journey into the GWAR experience. Skip it in favor of the followup, Scumdogs of the Universe, and you might be pleasantly surprised with their newfound listenability.