The mighty Gwar has returned to scorch the earth once again with their 15th album, The New Dark Ages.
Richmond, Virginia monstrosities of metal, Gwar, entered the universe in 1984. Prophetic year, wouldn’t you say? These costumed warriors have been entertaining fans with punk, hard rock, and metal music, and especially their stage performances, all these years. There have been changes along the way, including the devastating loss of founding member Dave Brockie in 2014. Through it all they have never faltered, and they continue now as strong as ever on the Black Death Rager World Tour.
What’s this band all about, you might wonder, if somehow you’ve never come across them before. Here is a snip of the bio from their Metal Blade Records page that will catch you up. “The story of GWAR is carved across the history of this barren and hopeless planet, but GWAR themselves are not of this world … their story begins in the deepest reaches of outer space. Long ago, the beings who would become the rock band GWAR were part of an elite fighting force, the Scumdogs of the Universe. For eons, they served as thralls to a supreme being known only as the Master. But one by one, each future member of the band earned a glaring reputation for being an intergalactic fuck-up. And so, they were banished, sent away on a fool’s errand to conquer an insignificant shitball floating in a dark corner of the universe: the planet Earth. Once here, GWAR shaped the face of the globe, destroying and rebuilding the natural world, and giving rise to all of human history. Aliens to some, gods and demons to others, our erstwhile Scumdogs fucked apes to create the human race, and this fateful unplanned pregnancy would prove to be truly disastrous!”
OK, but there is more. Each album is a new story with more adventures. The narrative thread to The New Dark Ages is even detailed in an illustrated missive. “The album concept is tied to a companion graphic novel, GWAR In the Duoverse of Absurdity, which will also be released by Z2 Comics on June 3rd. In the graphic novel the band are sucked off into an alternate universe to do battle with their evil twins and the specter of rogue technology.”
Besides the long arc of the album, each song has a story. “Berserker Mode,” for example. This is what the lead singer himself has to say about the song. “This is my origin story, about transforming into a drug-jacked unpredictable liability on the battlefield. But like me, it has a softer side, a tale of the struggle of becoming my authentic self…a sexy, multi-donged, vajazzzled, Viking cow beast known as…The Berserker Blóthar!!”
Never at a loss for words, Blóthar has this to say about “Motherfucking Liar,” one of my favorite tracks on the album. “This song is for anybody who’s sick of all the pieces of shit talking out of both sides of their mouth. Motherfuck a motherfucking liar.” Were truer words ever spoken? You decide.
There are thirteen songs on the album altogether, including the final epic “Death Whistle Suite.” It is rousing metal that can be used to get your adrenaline flowing, or can be a model for the way you live your life. Heh heh, maybe that live-your-life approach is not such a great idea. Either way, the music is filled with satire and loaded with great riffs and hooks. It is definitely engaging and entertaining.
You can listen to Gwar and take the middle ground. Some people could, anyway. When you see them live, however, you are either in or out because you cannot escape their overwhelming presence on the stage. Neither can you elude the lavishly shared fluids. For my part, count me in. Recommended.
The New Dark Ages is out now through Pit Records. You can get it just about anywhere, and hear it through the usual services. Put it in the queue on your way to their show, because live is the best way to experience Gwar.
Live photos by Wayne Edwards, Piere’s Entertainment Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2022.
© Wayne Edwards