Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Sound Check



“Battle Maximus”

Metal Blade

It is easy to look at an act like GWAR and assume the music is more about the image than the sound. And frankly, for the first 15 years of the band’s existence, you wouldn’t be far off the mark. But a funny thing happened with “War Party” in the early ’00s: The band started to think about its audio product as much as the visual. It’s a steady increase in quality that culminates nicely in “Battle Maximus,” which is an impressive, loud, sonically crushing album. Say what you will about GWAR’s subject matter, there’s no way anyone who doesn’t like the band by now will become a convert. The group is vulgar, lewd and politically incorrect. But fans of the group will stand to be massively impressed by the technical quality found here. Most notable among the tracks is “Nothing Left Alive,” which features so many signature changes that I lost count. CV


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MGMT has clearly set out to make what it thinks of as a concept album. That is, however, the only thing that’s clear about the band’s self-titled album. That the band will never again reach the stratospheric highs of “Oracular Spectacular” is practically a given; it could even be argued that it isn’t even trying that hard. But what we’re left with here is an unfocused mish-mash of sounds that doesn’t have anything to reach out and grab you. The album is devoid of hooks, and there’s not one track that compels you through sheer force of will to keep hitting repeat. It is, in short, a beautifully constructed but forgettable album from a band that is slowly turning “beautifully constructed but ultimately forgettable” into its own art form. CV

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