GWAR @ Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale, PA

Live Reviews | Nov 14th, 2017

Date: October 23, 2017
Opening Acts: U.S. Bastards, Doyle, Ghoul
All Photos Courtesy of Melissa Haslam

After the passing of frontman Dave Brockie AKA Oderus Urungus a few years ago, the fate of GWAR was up in the air. Will they decide to honor Oderus and put an end to their reign of terror upon Earth or do they move on as a new iteration of GWAR.

They thought long and hard about it and, thankfully they decided to do both. They honored Oderus Urungus with an awesome display of loyalty as they gave him a viking funeral and they unanimously felt that Dave would have wanted them to carry on and so they have. With a recently released album and a new/old frontman, GWAR has taken their traveling death train on the road with “The Blood of Gods” tour in preparation of total global annihilation.

First up on the bill was Richmond, VA thrash metal band U.S. Bastards. While their music was fast and heavy, you couldn’t understand a lick of their lyrics. Their lightning fast speed and energy kept the crowd motivated for the entirety of their set.

Following up the U.S. Bastards was a frequent tourmate of GWAR with the man whose name is that of the band…Doyle. Way back in the late 90s Doyle was a member of the second iteration of the Misfits with Michael Graves and played Pittsburgh with GWAR. Now he was touring with his solo project. Their sound was more of a Pantera style of guitar-driven sludge metal with Doyle sticking strictly to guitar while someone else handles the vocals. He does keep his Misfits look complete with the pasty white makeup and devil lock and is as ripped as ever. That dude has kept himself in great shape since he joined up with the Danzig-era Misfits. I’ve listened to a few of Doyle’s albums and have liked them but they were much better live. The sounds had a harder edge as they played them faster than on the albums. Everyone seemed pretty excited to see Doyle play as they got a huge pop from the crowd at the end of their set.

The third band up I had never seen or heard of before. They call themselves Ghoul and come out to the stage looking so with burlap scarecrow masks and torn up denim vests. They looked like killers in a late 80s slasher flick. One of the biggest surprises to me was that, much like GWAR, Ghoul had a stage show complete with skits and giant killer monsters and characters decked out in costumes that squirted fake blood on the audience…top that off with their mixture of punk, hardcore and metal and Ghoul were a definite surprise of the evening for me. It’s cool to see a band that was heavily influenced by GWAR go the same route as them because metal bands with stage shows and props are few and far between.

With the opening bands done for the night, it was time for the main attraction to take the stage. About a half an hour after Ghoul took the stage, the lights went out and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath introduced the band. As expected, GWAR hit the stage with some crazy antics and with blood being spewed on the audience by some dismembered limbs. With a heavy focus on their newest album “The Blood of Gods” which the tour got its name from, they kicked the night off with the intro to that album “War on GWAR” which tells the story of GWARs recent defeat at the hands of the united armies of Earth and the loss of their brother. I think it’s awesome how GWAR has included the loss of Oderus into their biography as a part of history. They also ripped through other tracks off of “The Blood of Gods” like “El Presidente”, “Viking Death Machine”, “Crushed by the Cross”, “Swarm” and “Death to Dickie Duncan”, each with their own stage skit such as a priest having a sword fight with his cross and then having it rammed up his asshole which ended up squirting all over the crowd, Donald Trump being eviscerated and a fast food mascot getting slaughtered like a cow.

While focusing heavily on their latest release, GWAR managed to throw in some classics as usual. One of my favorite GWAR tunes “Saddam a Go-Go” made the setlist as did “Meat Sandwich” and “Bring Back the Bomb” to name a few. They closed out the night with another new song aptly titled “Fuck This Place” which is a storyline tribute to Oderus Urungus and then took the mandatory pre-encore break before hitting the stage once again. The encore was only two songs long but they started it off with “Phantom Limb”, a song that is a more genuine out of story context tribute to Dave Brockie and his lasting influence and legacy that is everywhere within the realm of GWAR. It’s one of my personal favorite songs from the album and gave me goosebumps when the entirety of the crowd was signing along. To end the show, GWAR chose another song from their new album which just happens to be a cover of AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood (You Got It).

When the smoke clears and only GWAR is left standing to dominate the earth, we the scumdogs of the universe will remember the time that they almost weren’t and we’ll look back with satisfaction and think to ourselves…I’m glad that they pushed forward because I wouldn’t want to be dominated by anyone else. The band sounded amazing, their stage show was a good as ever and the venue was packed with blood-soaked fanatics who were all happy to see GWAR once again. I for one wouldn’t want to live in a world without GWAR and for now, I’m glad that we don’t have to.