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Twenty Five Years Later: Gwar – This Toilet Earth

“I am so sleepy, please don’t rape me!”
Gwar - This Toilet Earth - Indy Metal Vault

Oderus Urungus pled these words in desperation, much like Planet Earth itself did upon GWAR’s arrival in 1984. And a groggy world could not prepare itself enough for the rude awakening brought upon by these space mutants. Three full albums of the troupe’s depravity came before the trumpets of war signaled the arrival of This Toilet Earth by way of opening track “Saddam a Go-Go”. GWAR had been seen on MTV. They had a song on the Beavis and Butthead video game. People had begun to actually know about these musical monstrosities. However, nobody could have predicted the nature of this opus, except that mania and mayhem would ensue.

With punk, thrash, industrial, southern rock, and even hints at fucking ska (or whatever that cacophony is on the aforementioned opening track) making up the basis of their monster-metal this time around, GWAR was poised to tell us all how it was 1994. All these elements congealed to provide a bizarre onslaught not even heard on previous GWAR albums. With a live show that would consist of much violence and bodily fluids to be strewn, could the band back up their antics with their songs?

The answer is, of course, “YES,” as their subject-matter, tomfoolery, and irreverence are met with somehow brilliant songwriting. Yes, songs about middle-eastern dictators, prison rape, domestic violence, and Sammy Davis Jr. actually could be composed with a bizarrely deep and artistic intent. There is somehow care and conviction to the craftsmanship of This Toilet Earth, and to follow up the greatness of the bravely-titled America Must Be Destroyed with another album’s worth of macabre material might have been a daunting task. But they successfully did it here. Overall, the band’s punk-metal core is fully intact on This Toilet Earth. Looking around at our puny planet and its musical inhabitants, GWAR just seemed to realize that there was even more they could do with their sound. Their diversity had already been witnessed on previous releases, yet not to the extent found on this album.

I remember being quite confused as a pimply metal teen, reading along intently to the strange and shocking lyrics as this album played in my messy room. This album was even messier, but in a way that cracked more smiles from me than my dirty laundry could, but with a production that was clean enough to get all points across loud and clear. When I wasn’t laughing, I was scowling along with Oderus’ oddly venomous snarls and howls on tracks like the near-industrial metal “Sondercommando” and the plodding, groove-laden “The Issue Of Tissue,” the band chugging and banging at their instruments with a precision that seemed quite unlikely for their space alien temperament. These two songs were every bit as heavy as “Gor Gor” or “Crack In The Egg” from the previous album, yet perhaps a bit darker. I could always vividly imagine the warground that they turned the stage into as these contaminated compositions emanated from the speakers. At times like those, the playful nature of GWAR seemed to stem more from madness than buffoonery.

But let’s not downplay the goofiness here. There are tracks like the jazzy-yet-doomy “Pocket Pool,” as well as the funk metal ridiculousness of “Pepperoni.” And though “Penis I See” (from which the opening line of this review comes) is as goofy as a metal song can get without meeting immediate dismissal, the absolutely razor-sharp guitars followed by the punishing bass tone of the verses somehow still makes you want to grit your teeth and pound your fists on the table, shouting the obscene lyrics along with Oderus’ gruff mania. These tones are consistent throughout the whole album, accentuated by the crushingly punchy drums. This proves to be a valuable continuity throughout in order to retain the weightiness on tracks like the particularly jovial “Jack The World” or the gratuitous introduction of another one of their silly villains on “The Insidious Soliloquy of Skulhedface.” Speaking of jovial and/or silly, we also get a couple of short punk romps with the shrieky Beefcake The Mighty on vocals with “Eat Steel” and “Fight.”

By this time – ten years into their career – the atrocious army that is GWAR were already veterans and could filet you through mere minutes of diverse sonic bludgeoning. Sure, they might sweeten the deal here and there with some childish poo poo humor, but only at the expense of your sanity. At this time in their existence, those moments only served to soften you up so that their more carnivorous side could easier chew you up and spit you out. This Toilet Earth is prime GWAR. There’s a lot to be said for an album that can glean so many emotions from such a rowdy place. And the trip this album can take you on is unique and downright fun, especially looking back upon its grotesque glory now.

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