by Robert Davis USER (306 Reviews)
April 6th, 2016 | 3 replies

Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: GWAR greet the world with a lot of bark, but no real bite.

It's interesting to note that even from the get-go of GWAR's now seemingly lengthy career, Dave Brockie had always referred to himself as the infamous Oderus Urungus. However, on the band's debut album,Hell-O! this was only obvious when listening to subtle hints given by a few short yet snappy songs, where Brockie would yelp his nickname like a rabid dog. That aside, it also should be noted that what you are listening to on Hell-O! in no way, shape or form reflects GWAR's mainstream success in later years. Rather, it's common proof of a band finding their feet (or, depending on how you take in the nonsense of Hell-O!, a band that has already found their feet) in the world of metal.

Make no mistake, Hell-O! musically has more in common with the hardcore punk leanings of Suicidal Tendencies and Corrosion of Conformity (earlier material) than with the shock rock/thrash metal influences for which GWAR would become well-known later on in their career. Considering the overall quality of Hell-O! and its accompanying concept (where the band "play soothsayers to the US and modern civilization", before enslaving mankind and torturing the human race for their pleasure), the band's debut is a real mixed bag. Basically, some songs work well, and some border on utter crap. The better songs, strangely enough, seem to evoke the band's rare yet thankful moments of experimentation. For instance, "Pure as the Arctic Snow" is almost a power metal tune which wouldn't sound out of place on an early Helloween EP, "Je M'Apelle J. Cousteau" tries its hand at parodying a popular mediated figure, and "Techno's Song" follows in the footsteps of Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized" because of the narrative focus on adolescent rants. These three songs among others are where GWAR began to spread their wings on the debut, although at the same time this idea seemed hampered thanks to the lacklustre shorter, punkier moments. You could pick a handful of the hardcore-punk influenced moments here, because near enough every song on Hell-O! that isn't much over two minutes amounts to a virtual waste of time. Interesting moments are here and there, but they just aren't as in-your-face as GWAR's future records. One thing's for sure however, the production doesn't help at all here. Yes, for a 1988 record which had initially been lumped in with the hardcore punk/crossover thrash scene at the time, production doesn't really seem like a problem, but considering that the likes of "Captain Crunch" and "GWAR Theme" are virtually unrecognisable by the end gives the impression of a band not even trying.

All that said, Hell-O! is still fairly decent, but you have to know what to expect before walking into it. If you want proof of the band's better material, move on to the next album where GWAR really started to make a move into the world of shock rock, distinguishing themselves from anyone else in the world (or the universe). Unfortunately, [i]Hell-O![/] doesn't really assist this idea, and portrays itself as a record playing it safe in the hardcore punk sub-genre. The quality is decent overall, but also marks humble beginnings of a band which would go on to be much better.

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user ratings (86)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 6th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

c/c welcome as always.

May 24th 2018


Album Rating: 4.0

Americanized is how I fell in love with this band. Love the early punk sound of theirs too.

July 17th 2019


i have not herd this album full but i love the stuff i have herd form it

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