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The First of Gwar. - 91%

GodOfMalice, February 16th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Metal Blade Records (Reissue, Remastered)

When it comes to GWAR, people typically think of the three most commonly liked albums, 'Scumdogs', 'America' and 'Violence'. But when it comes to the punk-ish origins of the band, not only are they typically overlooked, but also sometimes criticized harshly. Is Gwar's debut 'Hell-O!' the best? Not by a long shot. Is it free of flaws? Certainly not. Is it still great for a band getting their foot in the door? Absolutely.

The first thing I typically look at with any Gwar album, is the line up, as Gwar is known for it's constant line-up changes, whether out of disagreements in the band, to horrible tragedy. Out of the band members on this debut, the only familiar face still in the band is Mike Bishop's 'Beefcake the Mighty'. Aside from Bishop, the line-up consists of the late Dave Brockie as Oderus, and a couple one off members. Brockie on this album isn't unrecognizable, but sounds obviously much younger and higher in pitch, even when delivering his more lower and growling-style vocals. He doesn't offer much variation compared to later releases, but still delivers a cartoon-y and colorful performance, shrieking of necro-bestial romance and vowels. Lyrically, the more well written and memorable songs are hilariously worded and stand out among the more filler like songs. Tracks like 'I'm in love (With a dead dog)' and 'Techno's song' are not only funny, but also damn good songs, in the stories they tell, and the punky-heavy metal rhythms that are delivered.

In terms of genre, there's very much so a punk inspiration behind the music, but the rock and roll elements vastly outweigh anything punk on this album. The riffs by Dewey's 'Flattus' and Steve's 'Balsac' aren't terrible or outstanding, but get the job done. The drumming is also surprisingly mellow in its dynamics, along with its simplicity. Rob's 'Nippleus' is relatively chilled out and it's an interesting performance from such an aggressive band. The first half of 'GWAR Theme' is also a standout, in it's lounge music, American folk acoustics, that declares GWARs mission.

I've also heard complaints about the production of this album, which to me, isn't terribly noticeable. Sure, it sounds dated as hell, but it certainly adds to the charm of the album and amateur, and immature of the band and its songs. If you heard a song of this album, you'd instantly be able to tell it was off of 'Hell-O!'. The lamest aspect of the album however, is the hit-or-miss nature of the tracks. If they hit, they feel like instant GWAR classics, but the misses just deflate and drain my interest. Thankfully, the songs on this album don't last long, and most of the bad tracks are the shorter ones.

A strong debut, flawed but still amazing.