A lot of people rate this as one of GWAR’s heaviest albums, and that’s just as unfair as the critics who try to lump them in with Thrash Metal. While “America Must Be Destroyed” does indeed have some incredibly heavy songs, it also has some incredibly well-played lighter pieces including a classic rock ballad (or a parody of one) and a jazzy bluesy piece (mostly).
The album opens up with “Ham on the Bone”, a rocking and fast bit of metal that does a great job setting the stage for the rest of the album. “Crack in the Egg” is another hard hitter that, though excellent, mostly sets the stage for the next track- “Gor-Gor”. If the beginning of the album was Thrash Metal, this can only be Extreme Metal since that’s the even harder genre I can think of at the moment. If you’re not head-banging when this tune kicks in, turn in your T-shirt at the door, you’re not a metal fan.
This is where the album changes gears completely. Mostly. “Have You Seen Me?” combines lyrics about abducting children- the title is a reference to the pictures on milk cartons from ages past- with some light and summery instrumentals complete with a ukulele, right before breaking into what might be some of the hardest metal on the album. You can really hear Beefcake (the bassist) tearing it up toward the end. This isn’t just a mixture of styles, it’s a fusion of two impossibly distant genres that devolves into absolute chaos at the end. And it’s brilliant.
The rest of the album is a bit hit or miss, which isn’t a problem since the first few singles are worth the purchase price. Highlights include the Morality squad, sung by an elderly grandmother hellbent on destroying GWAR, and The Road Behind- GWAR’s take on a Rock Ballad that sounds a lot like a satire of a band like Guns & Roses and is all the better for it. ‘Can’t you hear me cryin’, just like a sad whale song?’. I’m really not a fan of “Gilded Lily” or “America Must Be Destroyed” (one of GWAR’s two instrumental songs, though it does feature sampled spoken word) in particular, but the album overall makes up for it.
If you’re a GWAR fan, this album is a nice blend of the old and the new. It has a ton of heavier metal, but also quite a bit of the punk and experimental bits that were more prominent on earlier albums. If you’re not a fan, this is an odd but worthwhile album to get introduced to the band. I might recommend “Scumdogs” or “Violence Has Arrived” as a starting point before diving into this album. Either way, this is an excellent part of the GWAR catalogue, and I’m hoping some of the tracks make it into their next tour (especially “Gor-Gor”).