Bring a Raincoat. These Guys are Sexy!
To see GWAR live is a truly ridiculous experience. The costumes, the energy, the fun! Not only do they bring a great visual show, they’ve got some skills as musicians too. Unfortunately, all the hard work for their visuals and musicianship is cracked when it comes to the albums. It is a sad, sad thing when there is too much of something and you can only get half of the entire experience.
GWAR is an over-indulgence of gore; gross, offensive, comical, not whimsical, much about in your face and so is their music. As always, there is a story to tell from the epic journey that is GWAR and this new chapter Battle Maximus leads us through the latest struggle of Scumdog Planet, the conceptual adventures began in Scumdogs of the Universe. This is also the group’s first album since the passing of guitarist Cory Smoot (AKA Flattus Maximus) in 2011, who died of coronary artery thrombosis– a heart attack.
On November 3rd, while on tour, band mates found him unresponsive while they were on their way to Canada. A member of the band since 2002 and a contributing songwriter from Violence Has Arrived and on, the title of their latest album was a dedication to him. Battle Maximus is GWAR’s return after the sudden and shocking death of what was a major component for family and song writing. To keep the memory of Flattus and the story that is GWAR alive, the band respectfully retired the character and introduced Brent Purgason of Cannabis Corpse as a new character, Pustulus Maximus. Both “Bloodbath” and “Fly Now” are songs dedicated in the Cory’s memory.
Semi-Spoiler alert– we don’t want to ruin the whole story of the new album, but this is how it goes:
“Intro” is very futuristic and acoustic. It appears that there are still electronic devices in the future/space that GWAR apparently occupies in this world. Darkness looms; could this be the death of GWAR? “Madness at the Core of Time” – The attack! Are they going down? What has happened? There is carnage everywhere! What will happen to the wounded GWAR? In “Bloodbath,” dead bodies were spotted. Has GWAR been struck down only to reawaken to find more carnage? “Nothing Left Alive” – Well then, of course GWAR has to go to war and kill their enemies… it’s kill or die! This is the plot of the latest installment of the book of GWAR, in audio format.
All fandom aside, let’s get back to production and tech talk. On the professional side, GWAR makes such spectacular shows because they pay attention to what they do, which translates to their recordings. Battle Maximus is no different. If a band like GWAR were to drop the ball on their recording, they drop the value of their brand. The panning technique used in “Raped at Birth” and a few other tracks is always interesting because this technique is meant to bring a bigger sound to the listener, but sometime you just end up checking your headphone jack because it also resembles some speaker output problems.
The biggest complaint with recording the quality of speed pedaling and “power drumming” is the tick sound that often gets picked up. “They Swallowed the Sun” and “Battle Maximus” are heavy kick tracks that exposes this tick, but it is not a distraction from the entirety of the songs.
There you have it. Battle Maximus— the newest exploit from GWAR. The album alone gets a High Fidelity classification for bizarre story telling, musical skill, recording and everything in between. But the full experience is impossible unless you go to a show.