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Two parts Bay Area thrash/crossover worship. One part mid-period Carcass worship. One part tongue-in-cheek horror flick. Everyday is Halloween. That is the concept behind Ghoul, the bastard stepchild of California's clever Carcass copies Impaled. On their sophomore splatter Maniaxe, this concept has been finely chiseled like an icepick to the eye of a zombie.
The album opens with "Pleasant Screams/Forbidden Crypts", a spooky soundtrack intro which morphs into a thrashing instrumental, and then one of the more rousing tracks on the album. The vocals here are 100% Carcass, you've got your brutal grunts alternating with a Jeff Walker snarl, all courtesy of Cremator and Digestor. In fact the vocals aren't all that different from their parent band Impaled. The riffs are excellent here, as they are in the following slew of tunes, "Maggot Hatchery" and the excellent "Sewer Chewer". "Ghoul Hunter" is one of their narrative tracks, erupting into thrash, with the character of the ghoul hunter giving his Van Helsing-like, yet more humorous narrative as he is trying to track down the band. More great thrashers dominate the latter half of the album, such as "Mechanized Death" and "Numbskull". But what really rounds off the experience is the memorable spooky-surf tune "The End", and a 'cover' of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World".
Production is on par with what you'd expect of these gentlemen from their other work. A good, punchy sound to the riffs. Surprisingly this album was done with a drum machine and you can hardly notice, it's mixed in very well and never sounds too mechanical. This isn't a perfect album, the goofy nature of the lyrics and narration are apparent as soon as you see the cover art. A few of the tunes are a little less exciting than the rest, but for the most part this is great violent fun for thrashers, gore fiends and horror metal buffs. And it's the perfect time of year to break it out.
Ghoul is one real entertaining band. Their entire image is hilarious, along with some black humor here and there in the lyrics. My favorite thing about them is that they don't take themselves too serious, something every metal band does way too much.
The only word I can really use to describe their sound is "brutal". Bands like Deicide, Morbid Angel, etc. kinda capture that brutal sound but I don't find it shit compared to Ghoul. On Maniaxe in particular, the songs are just so damn angry. Vocals are sick. One vocalist shreds his chords screaming while the other does plenty of growls. And the way they switch off too, genius.
There's nothing particularly wrong with this album other than that some songs get a little boring, but the great ones kinda even it out so this is one decently solid release. While We Came For The Dead has a little too much blasting and a little too much nonsense and Splatterthrash is more melodic, Maniaxe is one album to really kill to and then laugh about it later.
Side-projects always maintain some sort of second-class citizen status within the realm of metal; they're delegated as to being an outlet for musicians who are committed to a band who play a specific style. The only exception to this rule of Stephen O'Malley; to my knowledge his power increases with every new side-project/band he forms, with extra boosts to his power if the name is either long or relates to some obscure mythology. At this rate he'll be able to take over the world. Ghoul are no exception, playing a mish-mash of crossover and death metal with an emphasis on campy horror and humour. 'Maniaxe' isn't a particular adept album, whilst the appearance of thrash does attempt to spark my faith this album is something of dull flint.
This album screams crossover riffing, plenty of simple metal riffs infused with Sodom/Kreator influences. Coupled with the Carcass-esque vocals that have been carted over from some of the member's main band Impaled and you have something of a crossover tribute to German thrash. The production and mixing is pretty stock standard, and the instruments are mostly clear with the bassline making the odd appearance. Drumming is nothing special, and is a good mix of double bass kicks with snare drum work. The vocals are not only the previously mentioned Carcass-esque variety but also a range of low growls, gang-shouts and even narration in one track. The campy horror becomes readily apparent in the narration.
The album has some great high points however; the riffs for "Sewer Chewer" are some of the best, coupled with a great solo early on and a catchy chorus. "Mechanized Death" makes me think of an insane zergling hopped up on pulse (vodka/red bull mix) going absolutely full bore across a battlefield and shredding everything in sight, and then throwing up violently the next morning when hungover. Reminds me of Fridays... I digress; this is the best song on the album with amazing speed, solos and riffs. They plod for a bit in the middle, but it works because they speed up again. Obviously there are low points; "Numbskull" is very slow and chugging, basically post-thrash boredom with no solo either. "Ghoul Hunter" is a narrated story with interludes from the band containing the chorus, the story is essentially comedy/horror but otherwise I tend to skip this track since there's nothing really out-standing. "The End" is a surf-rock styled outro with heavy bass, and is really off-putting in the whole scheme of the album, same with the cover of "What a Wonderful World". Last I checked, Children of Bodom were the only metal band to do inane and ironic covers, and they're about as cool as the goth/emo kids who hang around that fucking church in the middle of Perth. Otherwise the rest is fairly average with the occasional ball-busting solo and plenty of Kreator/Sodom worship throughout.
The problem with this release is that is reeks of worship rather than being a stand-alone band/album that defines its own sound. As mentioned it borrows heavily from Kreator and Sodom in terms of riffing, and at other times I heard Carcass worship both instrumentally and vocally. It's essentially a tribute band formed from the members of other bands, as a result the album as a whole just doesn't take as well as one would hope. Why listen to a half-rate copy when you can listen to the real thing? Kreator's ‘Endless Pain’ or Sodom's ‘Tapping the Vein’ do a superior job and both sound like proto-death/thrash albums.
Regardless, 'Maniaxe' is a fun album that has a sense of humour about itself and some good metal moments. If you're a fan of Impaled you'll enjoy this side-project, otherwise go listen to Zombie Ritual whom do a much better job of Carcass worship in the death/thrash vein.
So you like old school Thrash AND Carcass? And then you say you like to disembowell various poser Black Metallers? And you like horror?
As opposed to the millions of wannabe Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel clonesd, Ghoul approach Death Metal in a very unique way. Firstly, they take a lot of catchy old school Thrash Metal riffs and mix it with Death Metal's grove, vocal style and occassionally drums. The main vocals are straight out of the Jeff Walker school of growls. Like early Carcass, most of the rest of the band has a sing along too in a variety of undecipherable stomach-churning growls.
Though this may at first sound like Michael Amott's rather lame Carcass-clone, Arch Enemy, Ghoul's Maniaxe comes across as fresh and unique due to a several factors. Firstly, Ghoul approach their music with a tongue-in-cheek approach. These guys sound like they're having fun. The l;yrics are humourous but not self-deprecating and excessively cheesy. The production is rough but it takes you back to the glory days of old thrash and early Death Metal (think early Death and Obituary and of course, Carcass).
The fact that Carcass is constantly appearing in this review is a good thing. Carcass broke up near ten years ago, and it's good to see Ghoul flying the Carcass flag in a way that's different and not a blatant rip-off.
The cover art of “Maniaxe”, the first CD of the American band Ghoul is a little trip back in time, as it depicts the kind of comic-style artwork often encountered in the eighties. Even before listening this album I got the feeling it would be all about rabid Thrash Metal…
And yes, what is you see is what you get. Ghoul deals ten deadly blows of ‘anti-wimp mosh core’: old school, US-style Thrash with the occasional reference to German masters like Sodom and Kreator, including some ferocious non-irritating screaming vocals and a grunt comparable with those of Macabre and Carcass.
The thing that makes Ghoul even more enjoyable is the extra pinch of humour included, like the lyrics of “Ghoul Hunter” (including dry narrative), the beyond cheezy sixties tune of “The End” and the lyrical perversion of the closing track “What A Wonderful World”.
Musically, Ghoul isn’t spectacular or anything. But the reasonable production combined with the heavy riffing and the aforementioned streaks of sick humour make Ghoul a very nice band to listen to.
Ghoul is a fun band, plain and simple. The second full-length album from Impaled side project, Ghoul, hits you like a hurricane of catchy thrashing death metal riffage, fast, rhythmic drumming and dual vocals unlike any band in the genre of death metal.
"Maniaxe" is one of those albums that is just pure fun to bang your head to. Songs such as the opener, Forbidden Crypts, have you chuckling along with the lyrics of murdering a kvlt-as-fuck Norwegian black metal group, and banging your head to thrash riffs. At times though, the band gets a little too silly for its own good, but I think Ghoul is what death metal needs. The genre as a whole is getting a little tired with every band writing lyrics about gore and cunts, always having triggered drums and boring riffs.
Other songs that stick out on this album, are Numbskull, and Boneless. Both of which contain the great riffs and catchy little choruses and an overall punk feel that gives this entire album its fun feel. The album closes with 2 silly fun tracks, "The End" is a surfer rock styled instrumental, and "What a Wonderful World" is a Punkish, Death and Roll cover song.
The best aspect of Ghoul's "Maniaxe", is the vocals by Digestor and Dissector. Digestor's vocal delivery is very raspy, in typical black metalish style, although very clear and understandable. Which is good because you can make out the humorous lyrics. Where as Dissector is in vein of most typical Brutal Death/Grind vocals, deep, guttural and undecipherable. As well as the awesome non-monotonous vocals, Ghoul's second best aspect is the ripping riffs and solos. Tracks such as Sewer Chewer and Forbidden Crypts just flat out thrash, and have Kerry King styled soloing. (Done by Digestor and Dissector, as well as the vocals).
All in all, if your in the mood for 35 minutes of fun, and punky feeling Death/thrash, that's not to serious and full of great riffage, vocals, and humorous lyrics, than this album is for you.
Best Tracks: Forbidden Crypts, Sewer Chewer, Numbskull and Boneless
Ghoul is fuckin' awesome. Get that message tattooed in your brain. This second release, like the first one, has all the qualities a metal fanboy could ask for. Pure solid thrashing death metal that manages to get you moshing. This release kind of has a more punkish feel too, not that pop-punk shit of course. More like old hardcore punk. They don't believe in keyboards or techno, they just wanna thrash shit up. Inside the CD case, they actually have a "Tr00" black metaller crossed out in a no-smoking-sign fashion with the words "Anti-Wimp" across the top. To add insult to injury, the over-top humorous song, "Forbidden Crypts", pisses all over the Norwegian black metal scene, mocking them for the way they dress and act. They end up killing some black metal band at the end of the song too. Another funny song is "Ghoul Hunter"; very different from their other stuff cause it's spoken most of the time in a poem recital style rather than growled the whole way through. Track 9 is a bit different too, it's a slower paced instrumental that kind of sounds like a Danzig or Misfits song. "What a Wonderful World", is even more hilarious. It's a cover of that old song everyone knows but with a deranged twist in the lyrics, mellow in an odd way. That's my favorite song out of the whole album. This is pre-Heartwork Carcass reincarnated and injected with silly shit to say. Plenty of solos too. I'll remind you again, Ghoul is fuckin' awesome and it's worth getting this if you know what's good for you. Kickass album cover by the way, a lot of crazy shit going on there, is that Ghost Rider on a skateboard holding an axe?! Awesome.