The death of a pivotal band member, or in this case the one that is at times credited for a band becoming good, can be a huge blow to any momentum a band was achieving. This is where GWAR found themselves 2 years ago when last incarnation of Flattus Maximus, Cory Smoot, died unexpectedly in the middle of a tour. Smoot joined the band 2002 and was an intricate part of the writing of what is perceived by many as the bands best 4 albums. With his sudden departure, the band was left in a pickle as to what to do next. Knowing that Smoot would want the band to continue, that is exactly what they did. In tribute, they retired the Flattus character and moved onto the next chapter of their career. Insert, Battle Maximus…

With Flattus stealing GWAR’s spaceship and heading back to his home planet to fulfill his destiny, GWAR has obtained his cousin Pustulus Maximus (Brent Purgason of Cannabis Corpse) to take over guitar duties. Flattus had a very signature style of writing so it was natural that Pustulus would bring something different to the table. However, with the band following Flattus’ lead over the last decade, the foundation firmly fixed in the brains of the rest of the band. While this album doesn’t necessarily sound like something Flattus would have written, it doesn’t drift far from what has become the signature GWAR sound dating back to the War Party record. A healthy mix of melodic thrash and a punk rock backbone with technical drumming and catchy, yet ridiculous lyrics sung only in a way that Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) can deliver.

Going into this, I was curious how the death of a fallen brother would affect the mood of the record. Bloody Pit Of Horror, with its use of 8 string guitars, had a very serious and somewhat mean feeling to it. It wasn’t really the comical, tongue-in-cheek album that GWAR is known for. It was by far the heaviest thing they ever released. I anticipated a very somber and somewhat depressing record that reflected the feelings the members had in making music without their friend. Instead, there is a very light hearted feeling to this record as if the band decided to have the most fun they could and celebrate their departed comrade. There are definitely some straight heavy rippers like Bloodbath and Raped At Birth but there are some more punk, fun songs like I, Bonesnapper and Triumph Of The Pig Children. The final two songs in Falling and Fly Now both start off soft and almost sappy in nature and I immediately thought both were going to be the somber songs I expected the rest of the album to be, but they both righted themselves pretty quickly and were great ways to end the record.

Doubters be damned, GWAR is still here and as good as ever. A slight change in writing style is not enough to distract the path that the band has been on these last 10 years. The album is heavy and fun and is still totally a GWAR record. You will find yourself singing the chorus to Madness At The Core Of Time after one listen. I’m excited to see this new chapter of GWAR play out in future tours and see where the band goes from here musically as they become a more cohesive unit with their new axe-man.