As well as new artwork, the 1990 album from GWAR has remixed and remastered audio by producer Ronan Chris Murphy, which has certainly cleaned up the original and allows us to hear Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) in particular much more clearly than on the original. This is a concept album about the Scumdogs’ reign of terror on planet Earth, and to this day is often referenced as their most important musical release. However, we all know that GWAR was never just about the music, and to my ears this album has not aged well at all. In terms of music, it is fairly mainstream and basic, and the elements of shock were just in the lyrics, such as the amount of death in “Slaughterama”. It is in the live environment where the band really shine, with their costumes and stage antics being front and centre, and where the music and musicians are something of a backdrop. Take for existence Beefcake the Mighty, who has been a constant throughout, but has actually been four different bassists over time (it is currently Casey Orr, in his fourth stint in the band, but on this album, it was Michael Bishop).
Listening to this with fresh ears, one does wonder how it would be viewed if this were a new release, the second album by a band with very high visual presence, and whether it would be treated with the same reverence as it is when looked back on from 30 years. The simple answer is that it would not be treated nearly as highly, but against that, it probably isn’t fair to do so. There is no doubt that this album and the accompanying stage performances had a massive impact on the rock scene back in 1990. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to see GWAR will know that they are a sight to behold (I must have been 60 feet from the stage, deliberately so, but I hadn’t realised they were going to use a water cannon and still got drenched in blood), and the music allows them to have that platform to produce their art. It is still a fun album, and while it may not gain them any new fans, those who have been enamoured with this album for years will undoubtedly get a great deal from this much more vibrant and revitalised release.
8/10 Kev Rowland