Tuesday, August 24, 2010

GWAR - War Party

An explosive barrel of vile and brainless FUN!

GWAR is known by many a metalhead, and even quite a few non brothers of metal. Punks, bored and angry housewives, unborn children, and Jesus himself. To sum up, GWAR is very well known pretty much everywhere. Be it because people are offended by their lyrical content, their ridiculously over-the-top stage shows (by the way, the biggest regret of my life so far was choosing a week long vacation in Jamaica over a GWAR concert), or grotesque costumes, these Virginian rock/punk/thrashers are known for virtually everything except their music, which is a dirty shame. 2004's War Party, their ninth full length, showcases songwriting ability previously unseen by the alien warlords.

Here, GWAR amps up the intensity here more so than ever before. Violence Has Arrived showed a brief glimpse of what kind of intensity the band was capable of, War Party fully unleashes this energy in what I may consider to be the band's best effort. There are substantial thrash elements at work, particularly in Bonesnapper and Bring Back the Bomb. Maybe not so coincidentally, those are also the strongest tracks. Bring Back the Bomb is a rip roaring war cry in using the nuke once more, featuring some of the most fun lyrics to shout along to that have ever been penned. And by frickin' GWAR no less! I guess the one thing that most newcomers need to understand is that the style showcased on War Party is somewhat out of left field. The band has gone through many progressions as a band, from punk, to hard rock, to metal, back to punk, probably some polka, and yet again metal. As previously stated, 2001's Violence Has Arrived was a hint at the intensity that they could show if they focused their energy enough, and War Party is the explosive money shot to all that buildup. The goofy lyrics finally take a back seat to strong songwriting, one of the problems that have been plaguing this band since their punk inception.

That's right, War Party features strong songwriting. I didn't think GWAR was capable of it either, but they pretty much backhanded me with a fist made of pure metal here. Bonesnapper follows a similar progression to Immortal Corruptor from the previous album, but I actually find this one to be even better. The riffs are trashy, the solos rip, the drums are fast interesting, it's quite possibly their best song. Hell, Womb With a View is chock full of impressive little leads. Bring Back the Bomb and the title track feature a couple of well done breakdowns from the thrash camp.

Unfortunately, there are still problems here. The latter half of the record falls apart quite quickly. The short and punky The Bonus Plan is a hell of a lot of fun, but the rest is rather bland and/or unmemorable. Lost God plods too much, despite the couple of well done thrashy parts, but for the most part it is a midpaced chugger that end up boring one in the end. Even after the hundreds of spins this record has gotten from me, I STILL cannot remember how parts of You Can't Kill Terror or Fistful of Teeth. They're not bad, just unmemorable. It's kind of like a delicious grilled cheese sandwich, it's tasty and satisfies your hunger, but you won't give a damn about it near the end of the day. Decay of Grandeur is okay, but alas, boring. And I feel it deserves mention, that no matter how fun Krosstika is, you cannot convince me that the opening riff isn't a direct rip off of Holy Wars.

In all, I believe that this stands as GWAR's finest hour. It's offensive, it's dirty, it's fast, humorous, retarded, and most importantly, more fun than playing kitten football. Those of you who wrote off GWAR as a silly novelty joke band should take heed, War Party is a thrash-tastic ride into GWAR's domain. It's not straight thrash, obviously, but it's easily their thrashiest up to this point. The songwriting is solid, the guy playing Flattus actually has some chops this time around and rips out some simple-yet-enjoyable pentatonic thrash solos, the riffs are strong, the voice is just as good as before, and the band as a whole is cohesive and distinguishable amongst the current crowd of faceless metal bands. I find this album hard not to enjoy, thus, I recommend it to all. Everybody has their favorite period of the band's career, this latest one EASILY slays all to me. Check out War Party, and the two bookending it.

RATING - 91%

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