GWAR

America Must Be Destroyed

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From the beginning, it's been one of Gwar's tricks to riff on the clich├ęs of heavy metal while writing capably within the genre. The band's third effort presents a clutch of songs that don't disappoint in the grosser than gross category, but also feature tighter pacing and better performances. (Note-perfect thrash opener "Ham on the Bone" should confuse anyone who hasn't yet figured out the joke.) Lyrically, Gwar is up to its old tricks, presenting the aligning-the-alien anthem "Gor-Gor" next to "Have You Seen Me?," an utterly tasteless ode to kidnapping and molestation. Expanding its palette beyond the usual space alien mumbo jumbo, sexual perversion, and scatology, Gwar takes on detractors who can't take a joke with "Morality Squad," and comments on censorship and race with an audio sample-laced instrumental. Later, metal's penchant for power ballads is eviscerated with the hilariously gory "Road Behind," and "Rock & Roll Never Felt So Good" crosses Kiss with an unsettling account of groupie decadence. Gwar is certainly an equal-opportunity offender. But the cynical humor that laces each song can't be ignored, even if you don't think it's funny.

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