There are some bands whose continued existence escapes me. By all normal, rational thought, there is no way these bands should have lasted past a couple of albums. This is a completely separate thought from my perceived enjoyment of said band. Near the top of that list is GWAR. Seriously, those of you familiar with the band, can you honestly tell me you are not surprised by their continued existence, much less their success?
The band, which has turned over too many members to count has been active for more than 25-years and released their first album, Hell-O, way back in 1988. Now they are back with their eleventh full-length album, and their first since returning to Metal Blade Records for the first time since 2001s Violence Has Arrived.
Well, I have managed to get my hands on a four track sampler of Lust In Space, which is due to begin its world decimation on August 18, 2009. With these four tracks, I get the feeling the band may have another winner on their hands. The wild lyrics and attitude are there, the great riff-oriented songs seem to be in order, and while they may never be considered a great band (they aren't), but they will always be a blast, despite the likelihood that they passed their expiration date decades ago.
If I do a direct comparison of these songs with their last album, I would have to go with Beyond Hell. That 2007 release was something special, a high water mark if you will. That album had skull crushing riffs, solid drums, and attitude to spare. Plus, it had the added bonus of the Canadian Mad Man of Metal, none other than Devin Townsend as producer. His influence was clear throughout, and if you like his other work, that album brought his considerable talent into a bizarre union with this musical horror show that worked wonders.
Still, I do like what I hear and look forward to hearing these tunes within the context of the rest of the album.
The first song is "Let Us Slay" which has a bit of a punk intensity as vocalist Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) leads us through the lyrics focusing on the desire to slay, what else? The main riff is easy to bang your head to and the general flow is rather catchy.
"Damnation Under God" has some out of control drums early on combined with some surprisingly melodic lead vocals. The further in, the heavier it gets, reaching a fevered pitch in its final minute with a steady chugging guitar that will surely get the pit churning while the band sprays them with goo.
"Metal Metal Land" reminds me of another band, but I cannot quite put my finger on it. The lyrics tell of a metal utopia, to the best I can discern. Listening to the constant repetition of "Metal Metal" makes me think this will be a great sing along type of tune. One of the highlights here is the bass line, which makes its presence known and is actually pretty nice (not that GWAR ever does anything "nice")
Rounding out the sampler is "The Price of Peace." It opens with a chord progression with some squealing notes before making way for a more standard chugging riff structure. The lyrics concern the elimination of the human race in the name of peace. Lead vocal are not delivered by Oderus, this voice is less capable as a singer but does the job, unfortunately I have not been able to find who it is.
This GWAR formation is almost the same as the Beyond Hell line up, with Casey Orr replacing Todd Evans as Beefcake the Mighty on bass. Corey Smoot (Flattus Maximus) and Mike Derks (BalSac the Jaws of Death) return as the guitar duo and pick up where they left off with their solid riffage and decent leads. Behind the kit is Brad Roberts (Jizmak da Gusha) and he continues to do solid work back there. Of course, there is the previously mentioned Dave Brockie as the inimitable Oderus Urungus and lone original member (when he played guitar and did not sing) with his distinctive voice. Not for nothing, they are not a great band, but they are more than capable of delivering solid work in the studio and live.
Bottomline. I cannot give a final word on the album, not having heard the entire thing, but what I have heard is promising and I suspect this will be a solid album that fans will enjoy and will provide new fodder for their great live show (which I have experienced once). That said, I think this album, at least this four track sample, is worthwhile.