Gwar
The Disc With No Name EP

EP releases are a funny thing. There used to be a time when they weren’t really a big deal so-to-speak. Sure, occasionally a band would release something of some serious musical value i.e. Haunting the Chapel, Morbid Tales, Sentence of Death, In the Sign of Evil, Despise the Sun, as well as others, but for the most part the EP format was regulated to the territory of b-sides, cover songs, alternate takes/mixes, and sometimes just plain old fashioned tomfoolery…ahem..Anthrax..ahem…I mainly attribute this to the fact that in those early days of extreme metal, be it thrash, death or black metal, bands were throwing out full-length albums like candy at a high school homecoming game parade. I mean hell, when you’re releasing a proper album every year, the EP doesn’t really do much to serve a purpose or bridge a gap.

Yet fast forward twenty plus years and here we are today, in a time where the masses don’t buy or consume music like they once did, and the regular practice of bands releasing an album every year or two just isn’t the usual norm nowadays. A time where people’s attention span is shortened and damn near frantic or erratic. A time when people literally shuffle from one song and band to another continously on whatever “device” they’re carrying; never fully delving into an album proper and letting it envelope and consume you. Thusly, because of this, even the biggest bands have felt the pinch that modern tech habits have put on them, and the need to stay relevant and in the sight and mind of listeners may just be more important now more than ever.

So where does all of that put the EP format? Well, pretty much in the prime spotlight. Whether physical ot digital, the EP is now the perfect tool for helping to keep relevant amongst the myriad of bands and releases that almost plague us, the shortened attention spanned buying audience.

Seriously though, EP’s seem to be released far more often than ever before, with much of the material therein being more serious, focused, and not containing that left-over feeling from a previous album session that a lot of EP material use to suffer from. Yes friends, the EP has come a long way in the last twelve to twenty years and has definitely been successful for that stop gap period that artists take, or are forced to take. Anyways, I really didn’t set out to discuss the worth of the EP format in today’s metal scene. Seriously, I didn’t, but just like the comments on my elementary school report cards always said, “Kristofor is a good student, but talks too much in class”…oh well, some things never change. C’est la vie.

Lets get to the nitty gritty though, shall we?

Those loveable intergalactic space lords, Gwar, are back with their first release since 2017’s The Blood of Gods full-length, barring the 30th anniversary re-release of the seminal Scumdogs of the Universe album, with the short, four song release The Disc With No Name. Is it worth it? Honestly, no and yes. I know, I know, what a weak ass cop out assesment, right. Well lets put it this way. If you’re only an occasional fan of Gwar, the kind that would rather hang out in the safety of the back at one of their shows as opposed to taking part in the gushings of blood and guts in the front row, then The Disc With No Name is nothing that will tickle your tits. Though if you’re a diehard with a hugely oversized alien slug like appendage in your nether regions, or you wish you had one, then the new EP will for sure be something you will want to check out. Whether  you deem it good, bad, or just fodder will be entirely upon you, but diehard or not I think that it deserves a bit of your time. Hell, I went from thinking this EP was a total waste to ultimately digging the shit out of it once I gave it some unbiased attention.

Damn, look at how much of your time I’ve wasted so far, and continue to waste,  and I haven’t even said one real thing about The Disc With No Name. Fuck me, right?!? Well there isn’t really too much to say about said EP. I casually mentioned way back there that it was only four songs, yet what I didn’t tell you was that every one of the tracks are re-recorded unplugged versions of previously released material. Two tracks from the Oderus-less The Blood of Gods, “Fuck This Place” and “I’ll Be Your Monster”; one track from Carnival of Chaos, “Gonna Kill You; and “The Road Behind” from the classic, America Must Be Destroyed.

Three tracks in just under fourteen minutes with 75% of the product being a success. Now I’m no math scientist, but I do believe that puts one track as being a stinker, but I’ll get to that in just a bit, might as well start with the good. Kicking things out on this EP is “Fuck This Place”, which was a pretty fun and ass kicking little number in its original state, and you would think that doing an acoustic, drum-less rendition of the song would cause it to lose its command and/or power, but it actually has quite the opposite effect. While the track has been shaved down by about two minutes and has a slower and less aggressive gait to it, the track actually omits more emotion and even an epicness to it that the original never really had. The melody of the track and the arrangement really work much better in this unplugged format if I do say so myself.

“Gonna Kill You” rolls in next and is simply brilliant. The song stays true to its original version as far as arrangement goes, but the vocal performance of Blothar actually tops what Oderus originally laid down, while the added vocal harmonizing and the banjo incorporation is the icing on the cake. The song has a more professional quality rather than the comical take within the original but the humor is defintely not lost. Kind of like what Anthrax did with “N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin)”. Moving right along we have “I’ll Be Your Monster”. The original was a pretty good track that was a rythym and blues based hard rocker, you know, the kind of stuff Gwar has done for ages. This newer version doesn’t really add anything new to the original or anythng that deems it superior, but I will say that it works marvelously in this unplugged presentation.

Now the stinker. “The Road Behind”…what can I say. To us heavy duty Gwar fans, “The Road Behind” is a bonafide classic and as far as I’m concerned should never be fucked with. Even by the band themselves. Now the re-recording here doesn’t actually suck per se, but it’s just unneeded and honestly, unwanted. The only thing I thought was quite good in it was when the banjo pops up at the 4:03 mark accompanying the last chorus of the track, otherwise, no thank you. I’ll take the original over this any day of the week.

And there you have it folks. One of the longest and needlessly rambling reviews for one of the shortest releases this year. Like I stated earlier, whether you deem this good, bad, or bullshit is your call. Regardless, I think it’s pretty enjoyable all the same, especially if you’re a Gwar die-hard. Hopefully this review is somewhat as enjoyable, or bullshit, either way it’s still your call.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
August 13th, 2021

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