SCARE-RIFF-EYEING Vol. 2: GHOUL
Heya, Dreadites. Sean "The Butcher" Smithson here with the second installment of my new ongoing column, SCARE-RIFF-EYEING: Musical Abominations Horror Fans Should Be Killing For and Dying Over. This week we get so damned bloody it's funny and so fuckin' heavy it's criminal. You've been warned; now enter freely and of your own will...
Question: What has eight arms, 32 fingers, a collective half-a-brain, wears rotted flannel, and lives off human entrails and Snickers bars?
Answer: I don't know, but it's crawled up on the stage, and it's plugging in!
Creepsylvania is home to many colorful and interesting tales, not the least amusing of which is the widely held conviction that there are four "Ghouls" living in the extensive, uncharted catacombs that honeycomb the earth underneath Monture Noire Cemetery.
These creatures are said by the natives to feed on dead things in the graveyard and are believed by many to venture into town at night to snatch babies from their cribs and murder innocent villagers. The visual evidence for the existence of the Ghouls is abundant, but much of it has been proven to be the product of a clever hoax.
It's no hoax, folks (say that ten times, fast). There is an undead, quadra-headed, four-hooded horror dwelling in the catacombs beneath the beet farms of Creepsylvania. And with amps turned up to thirteen, this monstrous abnormality is cranking out some of the most vicious, and fun, riffage ever to move a mosh pit.
That sound? Well, victims, that's the last sound you hear before you die.
That's the sound of … GHOUL.
In the grand ol' tradition of Alice Cooper, KISS, Green Jelly, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, and GWAR, GHOUL is as much a concept as a band. With a constantly expanding false mythology of potentially Tolkien-esque proportions (that is, if Tolkien were a malformed, inbred, cannibalistic hydrocephalus mongoloid, addicted to the screams of burning babies and the smell of his own farts), GHOUL "mastermind" (Now there's an oxymoron, emphasis on the "moron". Huzzah!) Sean McGrath, aka Digestor, is slowly building a universe worthy of, well, I dunno … Attention? Fear? Your financial support via CD sales and t-shirt orders? YES! But it's also just plain neat-o, too, any way you chop it up.
Though heavily theatrical, musically speaking, GHOUL has nothing to do with the archaic posturing of KISS or the hammy glam vamp of Marilyn Manson. GHOUL is simple, tight, powerful, old-school thrash filtered through a morbid and slapstick-ish sense of humor, which comes out in the bands lyrics. With song titles like "Suspicious Chunks", "Numbskull", and "Gutbucket Blues", bloody tongue is planted firmly in rotting cheek. Imagine Rodney Dangerfield playing Jason Voorhees in Friday The 13th Part 2 while singing about torch 'n fork wielding villagers, crystal skulls, ancient curses, using posers for stew meat, and the beauty of nuclear devastation in a voice that's a cross between the apocalypse itself and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Serve over breakneck speed riffage that collides into mosh euphoria, and now you're getting some kind of idea. This stuff would even make your grandma get up and skank around the room. Hearkening back to the legendary and lean early years of bands like Suicidal Tendencies, Anthrax, D.R.I., Exodus, Megadeth, Slayer, Fear, GBH, Fang, and so on, GHOUL is a crossover geek's wet dream.
These guys in disguise are no Furries or CosPlay dorks, though. All urge to play dress-up aside, GHOUL also has what many of their costumed counterparts don't … and that is the music to back up the goofball antics. With riffs muscular enough to reduce giant killer robots to piles of clinking clanking junk and hooks big enough to land a giant sea monster with, these four gonzoid masked maniacs kill in more ways than one. It's uncommonly well written stuff, and as far as I'm concerned, it's the best of the neo-thrash movement happening right now. The jams are crushing, absolutely standing on their own, and just as badass as any of the stuff they, at times, pay homage to.
With three albums in their canon, there's a lot to catch up on if GHOUL is new to you. The first album, We Came for the Dead, is a raw one-man project. Just McGrath, aka Digestor, a grip of mean-ass riffs, and a drum machine. Still great stuff, and some fans' favorite to this day for its pummeling brutality, We Came for the Dead has more in common with gore-grind legends Autopsy and Impetigo than S.O.D. or Metallica. It does, however, contain a cover of the classic Megadeth song "Skull Beneath the Skin" complete with slobbery death growl vocals and guttural guitars that must be heard to be believed.
Some may actually recognize McGrath's name, as he is also the singer/guitarist for well known death metal act Impaled, who are also in need of "professional help" as their sick and twisted sense of humor permeates all they do … or dooh dooh, if you will. It must be something in the water. But that's another story. I digress -
Sean, deciding to make GHOUL more than a one off, chose to continue the carnage by bringing over Impaled bassist, Ross Sewage, aka Cremator (also of the black metallurgists Ludicra … yep, these guys realllllly get around, kind of like a bad disease), and together they recorded the second album, Maniaxe, which saw GHOUL slowing down the tempo a little and upping the moshability. GHOUL became a live act around this time but had trouble securing a permanent line-up, going through a few hoods until the right people fell, or were tied, into place. Once local punk-rock guitarist Dan Randall, aka Dissector, and drummer Dino Semmese, aka Fermentor, were, um, secured, the current members gelled in time to record the insanely awesome Splatterthrash, which got many rave reviews (5 out of 5 skulls in the hallowed Rue Morgue Magazine!), increased their growing fanbase considerably, and solidified GHOUL as an actual gigging band.
Also an illustrator and a huge fan of stuff like the classic EC horror comics, the Marx Brothers films, and MAD Magazine, Sean clearly displays these influences as he continues to flesh out an already fanboy-friendly back story with each new GHOUL album. An ever-growing plethora of supporting characters populate the mythos, adding more and more detail and depth to the realms of Creepsylvania. There is the evil Swamp Hag. And the mysterious Curio Shop Owner. As well as the cunning Ghoul Hunter. All springing from the sick thoughts and sad sack daydreams of one lonely loser who, at times, calls himself Digestor.
And now? Now the nightmare is real. Having toured the US and Europe, the unliving, fetid-breathed, pus-pulsed, blood-soaked parody of all that is pure has indeed stepped out of the speakers, into the light, and onto the stage.
Thrash for your lives! Thrash for GHOUL!!!
Bring on the board game. Let's see the comic book. I want the toy line. And a new record! Word on the Creepsylavanian news-wire is the fearsome foursome are sequestered in their secret cavernous lair concocting new cacophonous compositions as I write, but for now, check out the back catalog at the official GHOUL site and sample some of their terrifying tunes at GHOUL's MySpace page.
It's infectious. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Discography: We Came for the Dead, Maniaxe, Splatterthrash
See also: Anthrax, Megadeth, D.R.I., Engorged (US), Freddy Krueger's Underwear, S.O.D., Full Moon Video, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Municipal Waste, EC Comics, Sergio Aragones.
Recommended enhancers: A keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a pile of dollar burgers, chicken crank, brown weed, Early Times bourbon, Drain-o-tinis, incestuous necrophilia.
Check out the video below for a taste of GHOUL. Go on! Open up and take a biiiiiiiig bite! It's also documented proof that giant killer robots read Dread Central!
Check back in two weeks for another edition of SCARE-RIFF-EYEING!
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