posted on 9/2006 By:
Ever since being condemned to planet Earth many, many years ago, Gwar has never really been about the music. Their true calling is in their shocking appearance and their extremely entertaining stage show, and I’d have to say that when I first heard their Scumdogs of the Universe masterpiece in 1990, it definitely came across as one of the coolest albums of its time. Then there was the Live from Antarctica concert video that was a blast over a few frosty mugs and a couple puffs of good herb. The music was pretty crushing in an almost thrash-like way, the lyrics were stunningly sick yet contained a grand sense of humor woven in and out of reality, and the costumes were weird and particularly interesting. The only problem is that as cool as it was at first, the buzz kind of died off on me. It went from the sweetest, skunkiest smelling kind bud you’d come across in quite some time to the everyday average ditch weed that you build up a tolerance to even with the multi-colored three stage bong. The Gwar effect might suck you in for an album or two, but any more than that and their message of everyone must die while abusing sex, drugs & rock n’ roll wears awfully thin really, really fast.
Beyond Hell was produced by Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad fame, and the tight and punchy sounding production is probably the album’s best attribute. For the unfamiliar, Gwar’s music is somewhat thrashy with many slower, chunkier moments that bring out the grimace and help keep the pit going strong. With plenty of double bass, driving dual harmonies, an occasional ear perking lead and a plethora of recycled riffs, the songs are a perfect platform for the main focus, which is in the vocals. The musicianship is just above average with songs that are simply avenues for the band's fearless leader, Oderus Urungus, to drive his lyrical themes down with his semi-gruff voice teamed up with some spoken word passages, which come along far fewer times than we've seen in the past. To those more familar, the themes are simply rehashes of the days of old continuing to berate women, condoning drugs and booze, and most importantly scolding the crust that litters the human race which would include anyone and everyone alive. Would Gwar fans expect let alone accept anything else after all these years? Hell no! And that’s why the band continues to do what they do best. The simple truth is this band sounds exactly how they did in 1990 and haven't changed a thing. Touring is the name of their game and obviously that’s where they make their bread to keep this gig going, and as long as metal fans continue to support them in the live venue they will continue to release album after album and tour the hell out of them.
At the end of the day one simply can’t take this band seriously. The upside is that metal is too goddamn serious at times anyhow, so Gwar is that breath of fresh air that tells us to lighten the fuck up a bit and not take life and all the bullshit times in it too seriously. If you’ve never seen this band live I strongly suggest you do so, and make sure you dress nice for the occasion or you just won't fit in. To the metal fan that has never heard Gwar this may not be the band’s best album to start with. I recommend either the aforementioned Scumdogs of the Universe or America Must Be Destroyed. If you own or have owned either album then you basically own this one too, of course with this one not really living up to the legend. For those of you that were once fans but lost interest, Beyond Hell will probably not change your view as some things just never change.
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