Gwar - Beyond Hell
DRT Entertainment
Punky Heavy Metal
12 songs (46:46)
Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Kayla
Album of the month

When asked about seeing bands live, I usually say that if you’re only going to go to one show in your life, it should be a GWAR show. Gallons upon gallons of fake blood, pounds upon pounds of crafted foam rubber, and more disembowelments than you can shake a stick at. Who could ask for more?

Of course, man cannot live on flashy displays alone. As with everything else in life, a band has to have the musical chops to back up their onstage antics. Fortunately, GWAR is a talented bunch of musicians as well as showmen, and they show exactly what they’re capable of on Beyond Hell. Head and shoulders above their other recent releases, Beyond Hell was produced by Devin Townsend; given how similar Townsend’s on-stage sense of humor is to GWAR’s, I can’t think of a better man for the job. The production is, of course, excellent, with a heavy, metallic tone to the guitar that complements Oderus Urungus’s substantial vocals. The guitar is quite prominent, and powerful enough that it almost carries the album by itself; it fills a definite percussive role as well as a melodic role at times. The drumming itself is relatively simple; Flo Mournier this is not. However, it’s also very effective, mostly bolstering the guitar with hammerlike strikes or adding brutality in a flurry of kickdrumming.

The songs on Beyond Hell are much deeper and more varied musically than one might expect from a band like GWAR. Tempo and rhythm changes abound, such as on Murderers Muse, which sees several shifts in its grooving progress, each accompanied by a rest to enhance the change. Go To Hell, one of the best tracks, begins with a low-key patch of riffing heavy on the bass that suddenly and thunderously rises into an irresistibly catchy guitar riff that accompanies Oderus’s triumphant proclamation of GWAR’s descent to Hell. It also features one of my favorite aspects of the entire album: a female do-wop chorus crooning that famous line from Dante’s Inferno exhorting the listener to abandon any hope they might foolishly have been nurturing. Tormentor is the next standout track, beginning with that same noodly guitar ascendant, launching into an absolutely epic male chorus about the eponymous being; we don’t get all that much information about who or what Tormentor is, except that he is Tormentor and wears filigreed armor of some sort. That’s all we really need to know, however, especially when there’s a satisfyingly fast and intricate solo afoot.

GWAR has a mythos to go along with their stage antics, and Beyond Hell is really a story album that adds the next chapter. In a nutshell, the Nazi Pope musters a force armed with alien weapons to raze GWAR’s Antarctic fortress, forcing them underground, and they must journey through Hell to regain their home. Their journey is aided, in another reference that probably has a certain Italian poet spinning in his grave, by a guide. Half Jesus, half Hitler, the unimaginably and deliciously politically incorrect Jitler leads them through a gore-soaked massacre of Hell’s demons all the way to the Devil’s door, which, for some reason, leads them back to their destroyed fortress. If anyone is foolish enough to complain that such an occurrence doesn’t make sense, well, we’ve already had Jitler. It doesn’t have to make sense after that, and really, any seriousness would be a disappointment.

Only one track has nothing to do with the story; after it draws to a close, we get the bonus of a GWAR-ified version of Alice Cooper’s School’s Out. It translates well into GWAR’s typical sound, though as with any bonus track on a story-heavy album, it ends up being rather superfluous.

In order to enjoy a GWAR album, one must come armed with a twisted and irreverent sense of humor. If the bare idea of a Priapic cross between Jesus and Hitler brings a smile to your face, you will love this latest offering from the undisputed masters of the modern spectacle.

Killing Songs :
Go To Hell, Tormentor
Kayla quoted 91 / 100
Jeff quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Gwar that we have reviewed:
Gwar - Battle Maximus reviewed by Jared and quoted 75 / 100
Gwar - Bloody Pit of Horror reviewed by Tony and quoted 87 / 100
Gwar - War Party reviewed by Tony and quoted 87 / 100
Gwar - Lust in Space reviewed by Tony and quoted 95 / 100
Gwar - Scumdogs of the Universe reviewed by Shane and quoted 92 / 100
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