Album Review: GWAR – The New Dark Ages

Where do you start with GWAR? They’re a hugely visual band, putting on one of the silliest (and messiest) stage shows in the world, but they have to back that up with a soundtrack. A little blurb about the album:

The New Dark Ages chronicles GWAR’s adventures in the Duoverse, where the band rediscovers old powers such as Blóthar’s terrifying Berserker Mode, and encounter new allies, such as the murderous maven known as The Cutter. Along the way, they battle the living monuments of a lost cause and armies of undead soldiers who Rise Again to fight a new civil war.

Got that? Good. At least you know the story. Music-wise the band are pretty much a blend of punk and metal, rough around the edges but in the good way. They aren’t a band that worry about perfection, they’re too visceral for that.

Buried behind the crashing cymbals and screaming guitars are some pretty decent songs. Though everyone knows GWAR for the live shows, they’ve released a staggering number of albums over the years. This despite a revolving door for members. Well, being a galactic overlord is a pretty dangerous career. The New Dark Ages is no exception to this, and includes more than a few new classics, ripe to be transferred to the stage and bled all over.

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A good example of the band’s variety is a pairing early on. “Motherfucking Liar” is wonderfully blunt, and actually very catchy. Fast, bouncy, easy to sing along to and completely unlike “Unto The Breach” which follows it, this being more like something a herd of overweight elephants would write to distract from how heavy they are. You can pretty much picture the stage show: “Motherfucking Liar” will be played as a standard song while “Unto The Breach”‘s slower pace will be perfect for background music as someone or other is disembowelled to the joy of the baying hordes.

After this many years and with a focus on the visual, it’s pleasing to see that GWAR can still produce an album chock full of variety. The one thing you can say about The New Dark Ages is that it’s not boring. If there’s a track I don’t like it’s the 11-minute filler that rattles on at the end. “Deus Ex Monstrum” is essentially just a long soundscape and I’d rather have had another song, but hey.

Overall, what we have is a not unusual concept album from GWAR. I think all of their albums tell an over-arching tale and this one is also being chronicled in a new comic. GWAR in the Duoverse of Absurdity should be out by now from Z2 (who seem to produce every metal band’s comics these days), and follows the same story. Between the comic, the album and the upcoming stage show it seems that GWAR have all their bases covered. What they’re covered in I shudder to think…

Don’t forget that GWAR are touring the UK with slaves Party Cannon in tow later this year.

  • 8/8: Dover, UK – The Booking Hall
  • 9/8: Brighton, UK – Chalk
  • 10/8: Bristol, UK – Fleece
  • 12/8: Catton Park, UK – Bloodstock
  • 13/8: Norwich, UK – Waterfront
  • 14/8: Leeds, UK – Key Club
  • 16/8: Glasgow, UK – Garage
  • 17/8: Manchester, UK – Club Academy
  • 18/8: London, UK – The Dome

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The New Dark Ages is out on June 3rd

Check out all the bands we review in 2022 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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