GWAR is back to doing what they do best. Although their last two albums saw the band of intergalactic space barbarians going to Hell and then traveling into outer space, on Bloody Pit of Horror, for the most part GWAR is just GWAR. While their concept albums introduce us to colorful characters from their stage shows, GWAR simply being GWAR is entertaining and humorous by its own nature, and maybe they'll even sneak in a little social commentary here or there.
Although the band is wrapping up their 25th anniversary celebration, after popping in the album, it's immediately striking how different the songwriting and production is on this album than their previous release. On 2009's Lust in Space, GWAR was in full metal mode, with heavily produced, multi-part songs and the metallic white noise laid over the music that is so popular right now.
In contrast, Bloody Pit of Horror pays homage to GWAR's punk origins and even bares striking resemblance to their very first release, 1988's Hell-O. The production is snappy and simple, and it's their shortest album to date. But, most importantly, the songs thrash along non-stop. There are no grandiose finales, or overblown entrances--just punk/thrash riff after riff after, with lead singer Oderus Urungus barking orders over the top.
Lyrically, the band starts the album with the concept that in the bloody pit of horror, GWAR sends its slain slaves and raises them from the dead to do their vicious bidding. Cleverly, the penultimate track is literally a list of the more notable victims of GWAR's onslaught, which includes describing in grisly detail how they killed art fans, Paris Hilton, the Pope, Michael Jackson and dozens of others. The band also draws one of its most clever lyrical curveballs on "You Are My Meat," which at first seems to use cannibalism as a metaphor for abusive relationships, but in the end, really does turn out to be about eating people. But, for the most part, GWAR just sings about being GWAR, which consists mainly of killing things, doing drugs and the all-consuming depression that burdens immortals.
But, while the production is simple and their lyrics fit with their previous themes, the band finally has learned how to experiment with their sound without weighing down their more traditional songs. On their mid-period albums, GWAR seemed to want to try out every genre imaginable, leaving them with a somewhat bloated catalogue of novelty numbers. However, here, the band forges in a few stoner rock tunes, some straight-up '84-style hardcore, and even a tribute to their fallen friend, Peter Steele, with a morose wail vocal on a few tracks. Because the album has such momentum, and very little after-recording sheen, the songs snap together, making a streamlined but varied piece as opposed to a parade of joke songs.
Ever since 2001's Violence Has Arrived (and especially since 2004's War Party), GWAR has been blasting out punk-influenced metal that not only does justice to their earlier material, but in many places, trumps it. On Bloody Pit of Horror, they not only continue the trend, but throw in some daring yet effective experiments for those with discerning ears...that is, if the band doesn't rip them off first and shove them down your throat.