It's hard to believe that Gwar is nearly thirty years old. How can such a an odd gimmick of an alien warrior race that plays heavy metal not have gotten old? Because it's a whole lot of fun. There's no expiration date on fun. In a genre notorious for taking itself too seriously, Gwar has carved their niche and fought off all naysayers.
Known primarily for their elaborate stage shows with hilarious banter from singer Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie), massive props, and gushing fluids, it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle that these guys can really shred. They have had some really awesome albums such as, most recently, 2009's Lust In Space. Battle Maximus isn't quite on that level but it is still a superior effort to their last album, the still pretty good Bloody Pit Of Horror.
The introduction to the album is restrained and even a bit poetic. "Madness At the Core Of Time" then blasts through and you remember that this is a Gwar record. It also is the first of several tracks that pay tribute to fallen guitarist Flattus Maximus (real name Corey Smoot, who passed away a couple of years back). Filling in more than ably is his "cousin", Pustulus Maximus (Brent Purgason from Cannabis Corpse). The homage tracks are among the highlights as "They Swallowed the Sun" is the album's apex. It has the best riff and most impressive vocal lines on the album.
That doesn't mean that it's all gloom on the album. The track "I, Bonesnapper" is very heavy and comical. Bonesnapper gets a turn at lead vocals. He is a troll but his appearance lends itself to a likeness of a certain reptile. He screams things like "I am not a turtle" and "it's not easy being green". "Mr. Perfect" introduces the band's latest nemesis. "Falling" is actually a pretty nice tune.
Battle Maximus strikes the best balance of storytelling and slaying (musically and physically). If you've been waiting three decades to see what the fuss is about, this album is a good place to start. If you were wondering if the shtick was getting tired, this record proves it still hasn't.
Having just come off the best sounding set at Chicago's Riot Fest's opening night, the scumdogs will be back around on Nov 9 at Mojoe's in Joliet.