It’s a sad sight when revisiting an album has nearly no change on your opinion, especially after several years. Bloody Pit of Horror is a peculiar album, in that it’s not entirely GWAR’s fault for its existence. The music was originally penned by then lead guitarist, Cory Smoot aka Flattus Maximus, intended to be used for his solo project. Instead, vocalist Dave Brockie liked the material so much that it was converted to be used in the next GWAR album, released only a year after Lust In Space. Combined with the fact that it’s the shortest GWAR album, you’d expect it to stand out in the crowd of latter day GWAR albums or end up as a complete trainwreck. To the contrary, the album gels well stylistically with GWAR’s other material, and had you went in blind you would have no idea it was conceived for something otherwise. I certainly wasn’t none the wiser when I first listened to it. The album itself? It’s an anticlimactic barrage of heaviness.
If there is one thing Bloody Pit of Horror can be accused of, it’s being heavy. The album is a sort of heavier War Party, the guitars chugging consistently throughout the album with a frenzied fervor, biting, tearing and chewing through the mix. If you wanted to see GWAR do a death metal album, it would probably sound something like this. The drums pair nicely with this tone and are given a thorough beating to really accentuate the album’s articulate message of pure, unbridled violence. Brockie doesn’t pull many surprises this time around and appropriately so, as he desired a darker and more metal tone for the album. He’ll throw out an odd voice every now and then but nothing more than a teeth-gritting sneer or lame attempt at melodicism. The performances are not so much “saving graces” for the album, more so the cherry on top of the belligerent heaviness delivered through my speakers. Everyone plays their absolute best but even that cannot save the album from its own writing deficiencies.
The songs on Bloody Pit of Horror seem… counterintuitive. The band throws out the best track ‘Zombies, March!’ first, then follow it up with three songs to make an eponymous, four song story. They then follow this arc with three tracks of varying quality that could pass as B-sides from other albums, pick up the pace with the next two tracks, and end the album with two experimental songs. For an album that’s quite unremarkable, breaking it down seems like a lot to digest. Unfortunately, the complexity ends there, as many of the songs plagiarize each other and suffer a dearth of fresh riffs. None of these songs are poorly written nor do they offend any sensibilities like Carnival of Chaos or We Kill Everything did, though I fail to see the ultimate purpose of any of them. The first track promised a smorgasbord of monstrous delight and bloody glee reinforced with titanium guitars and gnashing teeth, but instead we get a War Party retread in the form of tracks ‘You are my Meat’ and ‘Beat You to Death’, or the ungodly sluggishness of ‘Come the Carnivore’. The exploratory melodicism seen on the past two albums seems minimal as well, resulting in simple song structures that don’t go anywhere. If they wanted a spooky monster-mash themed epic like the first track promised, I’d layer some freaky synths or keyboards on the album and write around them, kinda like Ragnarök. Even if it was a jarring shift from Lust In Space, it would stand out more. The grand stories seen on previous album are neutered here, regulated to the first four tracks.
I feel the same way about Bloody Pit of Horror now as I did when I first heard it. The only change I can offer is that the more experimental/djenty track ‘Litany of the Slain’ is a charming enough chugfest that details everyone GWAR had a bone to pick with, real and fictional. Besides that, the album is one of the more irrelevant efforts the band spewed out. However, I maintain that War Party is still the worse album by a slim margin, though I could go either way about it. On a melancholier note, this was the last album to feature Cory Smoot before he tragically passed away in 2011. His contributions to GWAR were legendary, and his style of playing more so, breathing newfound life into the band. Rest in Peace Cory Smoot.
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