Review: Gwar “The New Dark Ages” [Pit Records]

Review: Gwar “The New Dark Ages” [Pit Records]

- in Reviews

The alien monsters have returned for a new set of adventures. It’s all about evil but fun stuff and some pretty cool metal riffs too. While Gwar is the kind of band that’s all about crazy live performances, their studio albums can be pretty good, as shown by this new offering.

I say that because most of the songs are about new adventures in the Gwar saga and introducing some crazy characters, which I admit is the kind of writing I really enjoy. There’s also a lot of humorous misanthropy, about how stupid and evil humans can be. That’s my kind of lyrics too. For example, the title track is a catchy mix of riffs and raspy vocals about how we’ve created a new dark age, but we can still have fun. “Completely Fucked” is another fast and fun number about how everything is doomed. Then there’s the equally catchy but more sinister “Blood Libel”, about killing and eating children, and pointing out that it’s not much worse than what the Catholic church did.

Those tracks are the kind of catchy and fun heavy metal, but others are meaner, faster and thrashier, like the speed monster, raspy-voiced “Berserker Mode”. Or the threatening, even more raspy voiced “Motherfucking Liar” and its irresistible “Burn, burn, set it on fire, one thing I hate is a motherfucking liar” hook. Those tracks let you know that Gwar mean business, and they know their way around music. They also know the slower and creepier stuff, like the sinister, almost doom metal of “Unto the Breach”, or the other slightly sinister track “The Beast Will Eat Itself”, the weird industrial doom metal of “Venom of the Platypus”. And finally, there’s the more strange, melancholic keyboards and organ, bluesy vocals and heavy riffs of “Rise Again”, which has one of the best guitar solos on the album.

“The Cutter” is a more thrash-influenced track, with a certain sense of catchiness, and it’s also introducing a character, and using some shock value. See, it’s about a girl who stopped self-harming and kills other people for revenge now. I guess it’s kinda tasteless but we’ve come to expect that from Gwar, we know it’s not meant to be taken seriously, and it’s still a good song from a purely musical perspective. We even get a guest female vocalist singing from the Cutter’s perspective. Another deliberately shocking character song is “Ratcatcher” and its amazingly catchy “I got children in my basement” hook. It’s a funny retelling of the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. This one is the most fun and catchy on the album, and again, it’s not to be taken seriously, it’s too weird and wacky to be really offensive, like most of Gwar’s shock songs.

The last songs consist of two full songs and two instrumentals. “Bored to Death” is another thrashy and somewhat sinister, somewhat catchy with raspy vocals, like we’ve come to expect on this album. “Temple Ascent” is an instrumental with ceremonial drums. It’s followed by the strange, gloomy and more ambitious “Starving Gods” with its mix of singing, fast speak-singing and raspy vocals, and by the long instrumental of “Deus ex Monstrum”. These are a strange way to end the album, and maybe a promise of a new album about the story of the hungry monstruous gods.

There are a lot of cool stories in this album, and some pretty good music, that can sound catchy, heavy, fast-paced or sinister. There is some creativity and a sense of fun. It proves that even after losing their singer and founding member, this new line-up of Gwar can still write good material. This should more than satisfy long-time fans who want another Gwar story, or others who want a fun heavy/thrash adventure.

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