War Party

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When Gwar toured the United States in support of War Party in 2004, it was evident that thrash metal's most over-the-top parody band had no intention of becoming any less offensive; on-stage, they had a laugh at the expense of everyone from Lacey Peterson to Osama bin Laden to Ronald Reagan. Of course, anyone who actually bothers to be offended by Gwar misses the point -- they were always an exercise in satire, shock value and dark humor, and ultimately, their concerts and albums are goofy rather than genuinely disturbing. Some Gwar releases are stronger than others; at times, their studio recordings haven't been as memorable as their infamous live shows. But War Party is one of Gwar's more consistent efforts; in fact, it's almost in a class with 1990's excellent Scumdogs of the Universe. While this 2004 release doesn't break any new ground for the thrash veterans, Gwar's performances are consistently tight, focused and inspired; the songs are hooky, and the lyrics are clever (at least if you have a taste for sick, demented humor). Tunes like "Bring Back the Bomb," "You Can't Kill Terror" and "The Reaganator" are full of political references, but it would be a mistake to think of anything on this CD as serious political commentary -- Gwar's love of horror, sci-fi, gore and sleaze always keeps things tongue-in-cheek, and any references to political figures are strictly for entertainment value. Musically, Gwar hasn't become any less heavy, but for all its forcefulness, War Party is relatively melodic -- especially in comparison to all the ferocious, skull-crushing metalcore, death metal and black metal discs that came out in 2004. Longtime Gwar fans will be glad to know that while War Party doesn't reinvent the wheel, it is a respectable addition to their blood-soaked catalog.

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