Sometimes you can trust any band over 30.
October 19, 2017 | James Greene, Jr.
The Blood of Gods
The Doors made a handful of records after their iconic figurehead Jim Morrison died, so you can’t blame heavy metal satirists Gwar for moving forward in the wake of their own founding singer’s death. Well, maybe you can, but you shouldn’t, because The Blood of Gods, the first Gwar album concocted since the death of gonzo vocalist Dave Brockie in 2014, is great, and they didn’t murder Brockie to make it. He died of a heroin overdose. Thankfully, I have yet to see at any flea market or boardwalk the visage of Dave Brockie in character as Gwar’s hulking extra terrestrial leader Oderus Urungus airbrushed across rows of low-quality apparel. It must be hard to capture the essence of a man who obscured his face in what appears to be a pile of worms and coagulating puss.
Brockie was a massive presence in Gwar and his nonconformist approach to singing — which seemingly owes to inspirations as diverse as Gene Simmons, Jello Biafra, and Kermit the Frog — helped push his assembly of masked marauders into a specific stratosphere. Stepping into his vacant spot is Gwar alum Michael Bishop, who played bass under the persona Beefcake the Mighty for eight non-consecutive years and last contributed to the band during 1999’s We Kill Everything album. Bishop grips the microphone as a new character, Blothar the Berserker, and his style is more dust-laden (and potentially stoned) hellspawn, taking on a sinister rasp to decry the “War on Gwar” and “El Presidente.”
Blothar’s snarl is served well by the weighty force of a less frantic Gwar instrumentation, a Gwar that’s leaning into a traditional heavy metal comfort zone. This is no knock; in fact, there’s a kick and charisma to The Blood of Gods that suggests these guys are surfing on the thrill of having just picked up their guitars last week. You might never guess they’ve been spent the past 30 years sweating their tits off under tons of foam rubber all across the world. This is the upside to playing in a band that pretends to be hedonistic conquerors from outer space — reality can be as warped as you make it.
No, this new chum-soaked chapter of Gwar doesn’t reach the same dizzying and outrageous heights as the Brockie era, but it also doesn’t need to, not when they crank out four-on-the-floor hard rock this contagious. For the love of Kurt Russell, you can taste the grit and gravel in your mouth as “Viking Death Machine” tears by you in fifth gear with a hook as bruising as a drunken shot to the chops. If the goateed zillionaires in Metallica had given us this massive collision of riffs called “Auroch” it would be celebrated as one of their finest pulpits. Even the cover of AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood (You Got It)” that Gwar tacks on to the end of this record works, reminding us what’s great about both of these bands.
So here’s to Blothar, here’s to Gwar, here’s to a band that will hopefully weather the decades to come and continue to inspire riff hungry monster makeup nerds looking for a costume-heavy escape from the mundanities of everyday life.
"I'll Be Your Monster"
"Fuck This Place"