“The New Dark Ages” by GWAR marks a triumphant return for these outrageous Virginian shock-rockers. Often overshadowed by their mesmerizing live shows, the band proves they can deliver an exhilarating experience through their studio recordings alone. With their 15th LP, they dive into a bonkers concept that ties in with a companion graphic novel titled GWAR In The Duoverse Of Absurdity.
From the opening track “New Dark Age,” GWAR wastes no time unleashing a relentless onslaught of high-octane, gargantuan metal anthems. The album’s 15 tracks showcase the band’s versatility and ability to fuse various styles into a cohesive and entertaining record. They effortlessly blend elements of classic thrash metal, kaleidoscopic prog, and even pendulous epic doom, crafting a sound that is both diverse and captivating.
While GWAR’s reputation for grotesque visuals and scatological humor precedes them, “The New Dark Ages” goes beyond their usual shtick to reveal a newfound focus on serious songwriting and musicianship. The drum-tight compositions exhibit a level of precision and tightness that diverges from their typical ramshackle charm. Drawing inspiration from classic thrash outfits like Exodus and Testament, as well as the historic sweep of Iron Maiden, the band delivers razor-sharp riffs, primal beats, and moments of mind-bending, spacey progression.
Amidst the album’s intensity, GWAR manages to strike a balance between seriousness and silliness. Tracks like “Motherfucking Liar” and “Completely Fucked” showcase their uncompromisingly bone-headed nature, while “Venom Of The Platypus” delights with its shapeshifting unpredictability. “Ratcatcher” infuses a slice of cowbell-laden stupidity that’s irresistibly catchy. The 11-minute closer, “Deus Ex Monstrum,” plunges listeners into an absurd ambience, leaving one wondering if GWAR might have indeed lost the plot – and perhaps that’s exactly the point.
It’s worth noting the impressive vocal performance by current frontman The Berserker Blóthar, who comes into his own on this album. His commanding and diverse voice takes center stage, allowing him to establish himself as a worthy successor to the late and beloved Oderus Urungus. The rest of the longtime GWAR gang, including BalSac, The Jaws Of Death, Jizmak Da Gusha, Pustulus Maximus, and Beefcake The Mighty, let loose throughout the record, showcasing their musical prowess and adding to the album’s energetic atmosphere.
“The New Dark Ages” not only stands as a testament to GWAR’s continued relevance but also solidifies their position as a band that fearlessly forges their own path. This album is a reminder that amidst all the world’s problems, we can still indulge in a bloody good time, the GWAR way. So crank up the volume, immerse yourself in their sick metal universe, and let GWAR take you on a wild, unapologetic ride. They remain the sickest band in the universe, and this album is a mind-bending proof of that.