Review: Gwar “Lust in Space” [Metal Blade Records]

Review: Gwar “Lust in Space” [Metal Blade Records]

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Ah, Lust In Space, my old High School companion. This was an album that got me through many a boring shift at work and drives down the highway. Utilitarian, Beyond Hell Part 2, and entry level are all descriptors that fit perfectly here. If you aren’t familiar with GWAR and want to get into them, this is the album for you. Why is that the case? Well, Lust In Space feels like a cumulative work. It crams 25 years’ worth of ideas into an album that is extremely consistent with itself and previous albums, whilst creating an entirely new grandiose adventure in the depths of space. It is by no means masturbatory (unless it had a stressful day) and piles on the heavy metal in a grand celebration of everything extreme and vulgar.

So, what is GWAR up to in this spaced out, sex and murder laden, thrash metal romp? Only playing the most technical and skillful extreme heavy metal to date in their careers! Such musicianship has certainly been seen by the band before, but this GWAR trying to outdo themselves are write the most complex music they could play. Take riffs from ‘Where Is Zog?’ or ‘Damnation Under God’ and marvel at the stark difference in writing compared to works like ‘Sick of You’ or ‘Rock and Roll Party Town’. Quite an evolution, eh? It’s as impressive from a technical perspective as from a thematic one! GWAR has left earth, taken to the stars, and the simple riffs that hypnotized our primitive brains are no longer sufficient to ward off the foes and fiends beyond this galaxy. These riffs have gone to plaid! It may turn off fans of older material, and I’d wager some would make the argument that GWAR sounds nothing like their former selves. Hell, I was guilty of that sentiment some years ago, but to that I say, “Would you rather go back to ‘We Kill Everything’?” Let’s not forget that it’s still our loveable war criminal aliens playing this music and it’s an album born out of love and labor. Though I concede this (made up) “Not My GWAR” argument in one regard: ‘Release The Flies’. This song has Flattus Maximus, AKA Cory Smoot on vocals and is a death/groove metal track with a vocal performance akin to the brutality of Cardinal Syn back on ‘Ragnarök’. It’s… good? It sounds nothing like GWAR to a degree that is almost uncomfortable to listen to, sandwiched in between tracks that are clearly GWAR. On its own though it’s charming, and the slight electronic touches make me wish the whole album borrowed from ‘Ragnarök’s’ keyboard infested style, especially with the space theme.

Further tracks are your conventional GWAR crowd pleasers that don’t stray from the epic space voyage motif, save for a few. The opening self-titled track waxes philosophy and pontificates the cost of spending too much time killing earthlings. It’s a powerful track and does a magnificent job at propelling the band and album out of earth’s atmosphere towards the unknown expanse of space. From there, a bevy of heavy/thrash metal is hailed upon us in the forms of ‘Let Us Slay’, ‘Damnation Under God’, ‘The Uberklaw’, etc. A gut-busting standout is the hilarious and splendid ‘Where Is Zog?’, my personal favorite track off the album. I’d argue it’s the funniest track GWAR has ever produced and is put together expertly. Brockie’s recital of Zog’s tall tales and exploits, the goofy riffs and patterns that accompany him, and the spoken word skit at the end of the track will forever be in my heart and fondly remembered.

The style of Lust In Space is a sequel to Beyond Hell in structure and in genre. The album is very much an epic opera, telling the story of GWAR’s return to the stars. GWAR’s intergalactic crimes have been alluded to before, so to see (or hear) the band in their canonical environment is a sort of fan service. The lyrical content and engineering of the album are heavily skewed towards a science fiction vibe and allows brilliant imagery of deep space to shine through the veneer of the scumdogs warship. It’s less conceptual and linear than Beyond Hell but is still chuffed to share several extraordinary stories filled with nebular venereal diseases and space vampires. Dr. Skulhedface and Flab-quarv 6 get a name drop as well: some deep GWAR lore here folks. As for the genre, the technical thrash elements are fused with the melodic stylings of Beyond Hell. Oft you’ll hear Brockie deliver his vocals in a sing-song manner dripping with deep space dramaticism. It’s always delightful to hear Brockie sing in his signature voice, and what a better theater than the operatic stage of space?

Beyond the technicality and surplus of worthwhile songs, there isn’t much else to Lust In Space that isn’t already a staple of the band. The performances are ace, and the production is cosmically massive, if not a bit of a step down from the excellent job Devin Townsend did previously on Beyond Hell. Much like that album, I didn’t get it on the first spin and listening to it today, the tracks I blasted 5 years ago are the ones I’ll still blast today. The only tracks I’d add to my favorite list today are ‘Parting Shot’ and the uncharacteristic ‘Release the Flies’. It’s a bit disappointing coming off Beyond Hell and having a newfound appreciation for the tracks I glossed over then compared to Lust In Space. For whatever reason, this album is less bombastic and outrageous than I expected in some areas, harkening back to War Party even. Thankfully, the production saves certain tracks from total irrelevancy, and makes the album a tighter package. At the end of the day, this album is another chapter in GWAR’s kick ass history and is an accessible piece of eccentric art. Chocked full of fan and personal favorites, you’re sure to lust after it.

Score: 89 / 100

gwar.net

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