Gwar - Battle Maximus

Gwar - Battle Maximus

If you ever saw This Is Spinal Tap and thought it’d be great if they sounded faster and heavier, then yell Gwaaarrrgghhlllgh, more famously known as GWAR (by the five people aware of their existence).

The band members assume a character, dress up in costume and write humorous lyrics inspired by sci-fi and horror - your typical heavy metal playbook. They’ve had many line-up changes, with characters portrayed by multiple musicians. After the fifth Flattus Maximus (Cory Smoot) passed away, GWAR retired his character, dedicated the album to him and replaced him with cousin Pustulus Maximus (Brent Purgason).

After the narrated 'Intro', the first ten seconds of ‘Madness At The Core of Time’ is enough for you to say “yep that’s definitely thrash”. I imagine writing thrash metal would be hard - what with the speed, the heaviness, the solos and finding that perfect riff, but the GWAR dudes challenge themselves by making the lyrics kinda funny. The comedy is much darker and subtle than bands like Tenacious D and Steel Panther, but some of it’s not comedy at all. ‘Torture’ is like a Cannibal Corpse song, where the lyrics can be easily adapted into a horror movie or novel. Some of the others are weird like ‘Raped at Birth’ and ‘Triumph of the Pig Children’. There’s an alien (or troll?) invasion story in ‘I, Bonesnapper’, where the title character declares that he is not a turtle and that “it’s not easy being green”. Then he joins GWAR and destroys the wrong planet. Umm...yeah. Anyway, because of Oderus Urungus’s (Dave Brockie’s) fast and aggressive vocal style, you’ll have to Google the lyrics to figure out the story.

I loved Jizmask Da Gusha’s (Brad Robert’s) drumming, it’s there to impress, especially on ‘Bloodbath’, ‘I, Bonesnapper’ and ‘Nothing Left Alive’. The less thrashier moments of the album sound like Kiss, with Oderus Urungus sounding like Paul Stanley on ‘Falling’, a hard rock song. If you like instrumentals that are rifftastic and contain plenty of shredding, look no further than the title track, but try to resist the urge to smash the nearest wall in excitement.

GWAR’s Battle Maximus sounds like standard thrash metal with a weird sense of humour. Sometimes it reminds me of Kiss, but mostly it reminds me of the ‘Big 4’ (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax) of thrash metal. Even though Battle Maximus doesn’t light my world on fire, there is enough variety to keep it interesting. If you like metal, open wide and say GWAR.

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