Whitechapel, Iron Reagan, A Band of Orcs set to join show
Can Dave Brockie, the human front man in Virginia’s over-the-top heavy-metal performance-art band, GWAR, be separated from Oderus Urungus, the snout-nosed alien Brockie portrays on stage?
Not so much.
Former art student Brockie has led the Grammy-nominated GWAR since 1984. His character, Oderus, is the monstrously cartoonish face of GWAR. The band evolved, or devolved, from the art and music scene that surrounded Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in the mid-1980s.
GWAR, the perfect Halloween music treat, invades the House of Blues on Tuesday. It’s more than a band. It’s a collective of artists and musicians toiling under the banner of Slave Pit Inc. GWAR’s crazy costumes and props and sledgehammered satirical skits are created inhouse.
Apart from the Slave Pit workshop and GWAR’s stage performances, GWAR creates a mighty onslaught of riff-heavy metal and hard-rock aggression. Brockie’s Oderus barks and bellows lead vocals.
“Battle Maximus,” released in September, is the first GWAR album recorded at the group’s sprawling new Slave Pit Studios. The follow-up to 2011’s “Bloody Pit of Horror,” “Battle Maximus” features snapping bones, creaking doors, pig children, blood and wholesale insanity: the ultimate GWAR package.
“It’s always difficult to speak of one’s own work objectively,” Brockie said from Richmond. “But I am completely seduced and overwhelmed by how amazing this record has turned out. I try to be humble, but it doesn’t behoove me to be so.”
The latter classic Brockie-Oderus boast masks the tragedy GWAR experienced in November 2011. The band’s 34-year-old guitarist, Cory Smoot, was found dead shortly before the GWAR entourage was to cross the U.S.-Canadian border for a series of tour dates.
A sincere Brockie released a statement about the fallen GWARrior.
“It is with a sense of profound loss and tragedy that the members of GWAR must announce the passing of their longtime guitarist and beloved friend Cory Smoot, also known to thousands of metal fans worldwide as Flattus Maximus.”
“Battle Maximus,” the first GWAR album after Smoot’s death from coronary artery disease, represents the band’s musical perseverance amidst the loss of a major contributor to the group’s songwriting. Music, Brockie said, flowed out of Smoot like water from a broken water main.
“How did we do it?” Brockie asked in September about the making of “Battle Maximus.” “I don’t know. I don’t know where we found the strength to do it — except for the fact that it’s what we’ve done our whole lives, our whole careers.”
GWAR ultimately had three goals in making “Battle Maximus,” Brockie said.
“We wanted to tell the next chapter of the history of GWAR; we wanted to honor Cory and Flattus; and we wanted to make the most kick ass record we’ve ever made. And when the new show gets out on the road, it’s going to usher in a whole new era of GWAR.”