It’s been a tough few years for GWAR since Oderus Urungus met his untimely death. The near instant replacement of the inimitable frontman was of the opposite gender and largely ridiculed by longtime fans of the band, and in the end Vulvatron (Kim Dylla) lasted less than a year. There’s also no more original members in the band left, so it’s left up to relatively new vocalist Michael Bishop (no alter ego either, disappointingly) to continue what Dave Brockie started. Hopefully, this will be achieved with new album The Blood of Gods, though anybody who will be expecting a newly turned leaf from GWAR’s usual mismatched menace will be sorely underwhelmed.
The Blood of Gods is essentially a hark back to GWAR’s punk/thrash/hardcore-influenced beginnings, mixed in with the usual tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and wacky Sci Fi concepts that portrayed the band as a force to be reckoned with over two decades ago. There’s a distinctive problem from the get-go however, and that’s how strained the vocals of Michael Bishop seem. Even on opener “War on GWAR”, the narrative voice is rendered pretty weak compared to the by-the-numbers riff work. At least with the more ludicrous “El Presidente” and “The Sordid Soliloquy of Sawborg Destructo”, two songs which notably focus on GWAR at their silliest, Bishop’s nasally vocals suit the thrashy style for which the band have been known practically all their career. Essentially, what makes this album sub-standard half the time is that all members seems to have produced this new release as if the turn of the 1990s had only just happened, and it simply doesn’t work-especially with the knowledge that there aren’t any original members left.
That said, if you can put aside the obvious nostalgia attempt, The Blood of Gods features some great musicianship and inconsistent albeit satisfactory guitar work. Of course, the best songs here tend to be the simplest, the likes of “Viking Death Machine”, “I’ll Be Your Monster” and “Crushed By the Cross” revelling in Motorhead influences and display some of the most hook-laden riffs in GWAR’s long-winded career. On these songs as well, Bishop is at his best, offering surprisingly better vocal delivery than anywhere else on the album. Maybe this is due to the fact that the band are playing to their collective strengths and not trying to adopt Oderus Urungus’ character, instead being themselves. That is essentially why these aforementioned songs are the highlights. Mostly however, The Blood of Gods falls flat, because of the inconsistency caused by “Swarm” and other songs from that same mid-section of the album offering nothing but filler.
For what it is, The Blood of Gods is certainly a decent and solid affair, but the fact that GWAR mostly attempt to revive what was great about Oderus Urungus and his pastiche sort of misses the point. Because of there being no oiriginal band members here, we’re left with what essentially is GWAR the tribute band, rather than the real thing. However, if you can get over that point and enjoy this album for what it is, you’ll have no problem banging your head.
Released: 20th October, 2017
- War on GWAR
- Viking Death Machine
- El Presidente
- I’ll Be Your Monster
- The Sordid Soliloquy of Sawborg Destructo
- Death to Dickie Duncan
- Crushed By the Cross
- Fuck This Place
- Phantom Limb
- If You Want Blood You’ve Got It