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Gwar – Scumdogs of the Universe – 30th Anniversary Edition

Scumdogs of the Universe - 30th Anniversary Edition
by Mark Machlay at 22 December 2020, 8:56 AM

GWAR has always felt like a band that I could respect for their music and attitude but the aesthetic prevented me from exploring them any further. Being an 80’s baby, I wasn’t even in double digits when the band was reaching their prime and by the time I was becoming interested in heavy metal in the mid to late 90s, their shtick was starting to becoming just another among several copycats. This was notably around the time that MARILYN MANSON was becoming a household name and ALICE COOPER’s version of shock rock wasn’t so shocking anymore, mostly because he was doing just as much golfing as he was playing music. I remember vividly GWAR’s appearance on an episode of the Jerry Springer Show and being fascinated, but the music always seemed to be secondary. The band has been around for over 30 years, starting out as DEATH PIGGY before creating a “joke group” to open for them, then known as ”Gwaaarrrgghhlllgh”. The band soon realized that fans would prefer the joke group and started setting up the “Slave Pit” in Richmond, Virginia to help build the theatrics and story of the group.

The barbaric interplanetary warriors who settled in Antarctica, who were roused into being because of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, are re-announcing their presence in this horrid year of 2020. A 30th anniversary edition of their seminal 1990 album “Scumdogs of the Universe” is being released in a gloriously remixed and remastered package.  To be perfectly honest, I did own the original release of “Scumdogs” on cd for several years. It wasn’t a staple in any rotation but it was always entertaining to listen to. Full disclosure, it was only during this Coronavirus lockdown that I took stock of my gargantuan album collection, pairing it down, and unfortunate to say, “Scumdogs” did not make the cut. Like I said, it was an enjoyable album but with it being available on other platforms I owned and the general production quality was sub-par even for 80s standards, I had to part with it. Unbeknownst to me, the band has gone through some growing pains over the years, losing founder Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus in 2014, original bassist Mike Bishop – then known as Beefcake the Mighty and creating a new character known as Blothar – came back, and the band plans to continue on. Much like KISS, the band is still kicking despite only containing one original member and plans to keep playing as a legacy act with the cast rotating based on need.

It’s hard to quantify what an improvement a remastered edition of such a classic album is but unlike the MEGADETH and OZZY OSBOURNE remasters, they got it right with this one. For one, gone is the over re-verbed version that saturated the sound of the original “Scumdogs of the Universe” and Brockie aka Urungus’s voice is heard crisp and clear, shining much better than its 30 year old version. Most of the unnecessary effects laid over all the instruments, especially the horrible flanger used on the guitars is toned down, giving all the instruments a chance to breathe. You’ll start hearing elements that were in the original that you would have never noticed before such as much clearer vocal harmonies on “Sick of You” and a lost guitar run underneath the “oohhs” in “Vlad the Impaler”. The guitars sound angry, the mix sounds beefier without a lot of noise and everything just hits with more power and passion that it ever did before. I may have let this album go but with production value like this, I am seriously considering picking this up, despite not really being a fan of GWAR’s. For longtime fans, this is a must-have, for those that have a passing affinity for them, if you give it a shot, it would be well worth your time.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. The Salaminizer
2. Maggots
3. Sick Of You
4. Slaughterama
5. The Years Without Light
6. King Queen
7. Horror of Yig
8. Vlad The Impaler
9. Black And Huge
10. Love Surgery
11. Death Pod
12. Sexectutioner
13. Cool Place To Park
Oderus Urungus – Vocals
Beefcake the Mighty – Bass & Vocals
Fattus Maximus – Lead Guitars
Balsac the Jaws of Death – Rhythm Guitars
Jizmak Da Gusha – Drums
Record Label: Pit Records


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Edited 31 May 2023

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