Friday, August 30, 2013

Gwar-Battle Maximus

Metal Blade Records

There's no need for a long introduction when it comes to Richmond, Virginia's Gwar. Chances are if you're here reading this then you know who the band is and what they do. If you're not familiar with the band then I honestly have no idea what to tell you other then perhaps it's long-past time that you crawl out from under that rock that you've been calling home! Anyway, my first taste of Gwar came courtesy of "Scumdogs of the Universe" which was released back in 1990. I wore out a copy of that tape (yes, a cassette tape!) thanks to cool tracks like "Sick of You" and I dreamed of one day being able to indulge in one of their live shows. Of course their music has always been heavy on the juvenile humor, but seeing as I was 16 when that album came out what can I say? Now here we are 24 years later and I'm faced with two certainties when it comes to this new album by Gwar. First off this is the group's first studio album since the tragic loss of their longtime guitar player, Flattus Maximus (Cory Smoot), so no doubt the emotions were running high for the group when they laid this to tape. I'd be lying if I said that his death wasn't weighing on my mind the first time I listened to "Battle Maximus". Cory Smoot's death was a sad event for his family, friends, band-mates and fans. This album is said to be both a tribute to Cory and a continuation of the Gwar storyline. So yeah, that was the first point to consider and as for the second point? Well, even though I loved Gwar's second full-length album I would eventually lose interest in the whole Gwar storyline. While the music was/still is cool it just got to a point where it was like "OK, now what?". So, while I do have their second album downloaded (as well as other misc.tracks from their long career!) I've long since moved on from being a hardcore Gwar fan. Maybe that's for the best though as it gives me a different perspective then other reviewers who might actually be diehard Gwar junkies. Maybe. I will say this about this new album-It's straight-up dope heavy metal with or without it's "storyline". For those of you who might be interested in the storyline anyway here's the deal. This new album works as both a tribute to their fallen comrade, Flattus Maximus, and as a documentation of Gwar's "latest struggle against what may be their greatest enemy yet...the insidious "Mr. Perfect", who has travelled through time itself to steal the power of Gwar--the power of immortality, and use this power to mutate the human race into his twisted vision of what the "perfect" human should be". It goes on to add "Once again Gwar finds themselves as the only thing standing between the human race and the latest super-powered shithead bent on the destruction of Gwar and the enslavement of their worshipers". Pretty heavy stuff right? Anyway, let's move on to the good stuff-The Music! Recorded at the group's brand-new Slave Pit Studios Brent, this is the Gwar's first album to feature new lead guitarist Pustulus Maximus  (aka Brent Purgason) and yeah, his skills fit in quite nicely! As I said above this is some pretty dope heavy metal and when I actually use the term "dope" then that says a lot! By this point in their long and successful career the guys in Gwar have created an original sound to go along with their original "theme metal". There's no mistaking that familiar Gwar sound which has always come across as a mixture of punk metal, traditional heavy metal and thrash...or at least to these ears. And this album is no different really. With a punk attitude and metallic riffs that could easily do some serious damage to both your eardrums and face this is the continuing story of a band that done it their way, critics and naysayers be damned! To listen to "Battle Maximus" is to listen to a band that has persevered and shows no sign of ever stopping. That same Gwar energy and twisted enjoyment of all things weird and ooze-filled that was on display on "Scumdogs of the Universe" is on display here and I can find little to fault these guys over on this 12-track album (it's really 13 tracks, but why count the brief intro?). Fans should find plenty to enjoy about this album that was year-and-a-half in the making and, with a new show being designed around this album's storyline, the latest incarnation of Gwar should be able to level the same kind of earth-shattering destruction as always when they appear live. Even if I haven't kept up with the continuously evolving world of Gwar it's good to hear that they are still rocking out to smash-mouth heavy metal. It's good to see that some things never change.

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