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GWAR America Must Be Destroyed Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

The biggest, brashest, dumbest kitsch since KISS first slapped on make-up.

Greg Moffitt 2009

The third album from US shock rock troupe GWAR is about as substantial as any of their releases, which is to say, not very. Attired in outlandish monster costumes and adorned with all manner of disgusting sexual prostheses, they’re nothing if not attention-grabbing. Their music, however, is rarely more than functional. But then, the crude racket they churn out was only ever intended to serve as a backdrop for their outrageous, over-the-top stage antics.

Originally released in 1992, the bulk of America Must Be Destroyed can be loosely categorised as thrash metal, although it often dips into straight hard rock territory and incorporates fleeting parodies of other genres. The first three tracks – Ham on the Bone, Crack in the Egg and Gor-Gor – maintain a certain crazed momentum, but by the time that The Morality Squad rolls around – not even the half-way point - the album has descended utterly into parody and farce. It’s right about now that the importance of their stage show becomes all-too apparent.

Given how riotous and downright fun their gigs can be, pretty much every GWAR album review ever written has come across as churlish. On stage, they peddle the biggest, brashest, dumbest kitsch since KISS first slapped on make-up and stacked-heel boots, but there’s a reason why their studio albums routinely get panned. Sit down with headphones on and try listening to America Must Be Destroyed from start to finish and see how far you get.

Inspired by a series of events which took place in North Carolina while the band were on tour, this is a concept album of sorts. It recounts the tale of local police officers raiding a GWAR show, impounding a “penile attachment” and issuing obscenity charges against the band. In GWAR’s imaginary world, the aftermath didn’t involve court appearances or hefty fines but rather violent retribution against the authorities by their monstrous alter-egos with names such as Oderus Urungus, Slymenstra Hymen and Balsac the Jaws of Death. You couldn’t make this stuff up, but they did.

This reissue comes complete with a bonus DVD containing both Phallus in Wonderland – a long-form movie following the events chronicled on the album – and their second live video Tour De Scum, recorded on their previous concert trek. These slapstick visuals are a reminder that until you’ve stood front of stage and been splattered with extraterrestrial semen, you’ve not experienced GWAR at all.

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