GWAR’s comedic aspect is often a much stronger punch to the gut than its musical ambitions. However, the equation has begun to even with the last two strong efforts from this morbid crew and “Beyond Hell” maintains the path, cutting through the blood and vomit spewing from the stage with sharp Thrash riffing and up-beat Punk rhythms. This is most aptly recognizable as “War Party” part deuce in the fact that the musical background is already highly solidified in the mold of the aforementioned album, while the hilarious lyrical content continues to take center stage so that the listener may bang his head while simultaneously convulsing with childish giggles.
“Beyond Hell” bears a bit of an unforeseen twist in the fact that it is the first concept album the band has tackled since the mighty “Ragnarok”. As the title suggests, the story details the band’s journey to Hell where they ultimately battle the devil himself in a bloody conflict in which “The master is slain, and the fortress of GWAR is ripe to reclaim.” It’s nice to see Oderus and company attempting something a bit more unique and offering lyrical content which is more than just humorous.
“War Is All We Know” kicks things off into high gear, showcasing the slick leads and vocal whiplash that we all have come to love. It’s nice to see the return of the gang chorus, especially when it’s intermingled with the ramblings of a mad-man. The riff-work seems to remain a constant high when transitioning into “Murderer’s Muse” and “Go To Hell”, only taking momentary mental lapses which are often transcended by the always sharp Oderus Urungus rambling into the mic like a deranged politician.
While this formula does not quite bear the luster it once did, one can hardly say this act sounds tired or complacent. A sense of conviction and overt energy can be felt when screaming “TORMENTOR!!” in unison or ordering the listener to “Go To Hell!”. I also can’t help but affirm this project’s ever present quality to inject such a catchy hook in a track which contains stellar riffing and down-right gut-wrenching vocals. In particular the chorus of “The One That Will Not Be…” is quite prolific featuring the unison of axe and vocal attack in the most spine tingling of fashions.
Those who can’t bang their heads to the bonafide gospel of Oderus; “This is a plea for drugs/this is a plea for booze/this is a plea for junk/anything that I can use!!” were never likely GWAR fans in the first place. While many bands continue to water down their riffing and parse that which is most Metal from their compositions, there is still a bright shining star in the mix which continues to tread heavier ground while remaining true to their core. Go to Hell and have the time of your life.
(Online February 3, 2007)