Gwar
Battle Maximus

GWAR, GWAR, GWAR… What would the world do without such a band? Regardless of what any detractors might feel or say about the Richmond, Virginia veterans, GWAR is easily one of the most important, most crucial bands in metal today. Check that: ever. Aside from putting on the best live show in the history of metal for almost three full decades, they are truly the only comedic metal band that has been able to endure for this long. On top of that, GWAR releases kick ass music every single time they unleash a new album upon the world.

Thankfully we are treated to another killer chapter in the GWAR legacy in the form of Battle Maximus, the band’s 13th full-length album. And, in keeping with tradition, every song on the record is classic GWAR: loads of punk-infused thrash riffs, often hilarious lyrics, and a mixture of catchier-than-crabs hooks and crushing heaviness. Whether it’s the groove-laden “Nothing Left Alive” or the punishing “I, Bonesnapper”, GWAR has left no stone unturned in their quest for world domination. Which, when you look at it from any angle, is what GWAR has always done.

Battle Maximus is loaded with eventual GWAR classics like the two aforementioned tracks as well as the brooding “They Swallowed the Sun”, the thunderous “Torture” and the lighter, entertaining “Triumph of the Pig Children”, which is arguably among the catchiest tunes these space savages have ever recorded. Over the years, GWAR has also recorded a few softer, almost emotional ditties along the way and their latest release is no different: “Falling” fills that hole perfectly.

There were some fears that GWAR might have been crippled by the unfortunate and tragic death of Cory Smoot (Flattus Maximus), the man that Oderus Urungus has heralded many a time as the virtual savior of the band’s musical direction. Thankfully for the legion of GWAR freaks the world over, Brent Purgason fills the massive shoes almost perfectly in the form of Pustulus Maximus. Though his trademark sound is much more barbaric and vicious in Antietam 1862, his blackish thrash style has been wrangled in quite a bit to where it’s classic GWAR through and through. Though there are subtle nuances that differentiate the two Maximuses, you’d be hard-pressed not to envision Pustulus not being in the band for years. Also worth noting is the fact that this is also the first album to feature a new version of Beefcake the Mighty, this time filled by the human Jamison Land.

The only real drawback to the album is the final mix. While it’s not a horrendous mix by any means, the drums are a bit too clicky and the guitars aren’t as monstrous as they’ve been in years past. Battle Maximus is still heavier than Gor-Gor’s bloodied hulking form, but methinks the finished product could’ve come out with a more abrasive, punishing sound. With that said, it’s a minor gripe that can be overlooked because the album as a whole is still what virtually every GWAR fan craves. Is it as spectacular as their one-two punch of near perfection in the form of Scumdogs of the Universe and America Must be Destroyed? No, not quite. Then again GWAR might not ever be able to recreate the magic harnessed on those two gems. However, Battle Maximus fits nicely alongside GWAR’s other classics Lust in Space, This Toilet Earth, War Party and Beyond Hell.

GWAR is back and in murderous form with Battle Maximus. It’s a well thought-out album, one that is loaded with future staples that will eventually serve as background music to the bloody, gory killing spree that is a GWAR concert. If you are someone who has never “gotten” GWAR or loathes what they do, then your ears weren’t meant for this album anyway. But if you consider yourself a GWAR junkie, then Battle Maximus is everything you can expect and more. Now it’s time for the hard part: waiting impatiently for them to come through town on tour.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mike Sloan
September 11th, 2013

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