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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Ghoul

Maniaxe

Review by Mike Korn

In the strange and rather ominous country of Creepsylvania, there is a forbidding old cemetery known as Monture Noir. It is here that most of the "Ghoul" sightings have taken place. Shambling, misshapen figures, their heads covered with bloody hoods, have been spotted defiling the graves of the newly buried. Luckless visitors to the cemetery (the few who have returned alive) have also heard the tones of brutal thrash metal emanating from the underground crypts.

Yes, the four fiends who make up Ghoul are not only necro-cannibals, but masters of aggressive heavy metal as well. They keep their true identities secret, but are known by titles such as Digestor, Fermentor, Cremator and latest recruit Dissector. They purvey a gruesome but curiously catchy sound that can be likened to a cross between Anthrax and Carcass. Despite their hideous deformities, they are extremely tight musically and their latest offering "Maniaxe" offers much to delight those who headbang to the likes of old Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and Exodus.

Each song here relates another chapter in the saga of Ghoul. Not only are the fearsome foursome themselves prominent characters in the story, but we are also introduced to other creeps like the Killbot, the Swamp Hag and the Ghoul Hunter. The record is a mad mixture of gory EC Comic Book and neck-snapping metal. If you think you are brave enough to dare the catacombs of Monture Noir, then pick up "Maniaxe" and prepare for an evil treat!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Pleasant Screams/Forbidden Crypts
Eerie electronic horror movie music lets us know we are in for a gruesome time before breaking into mid-paced evil metal with some nice twin harmony work. The "Forbidden Crypts" section is a throbbing thrash attack with mixed raspy/guttural vocals. This tells the story of how Ghoul kills and devours some "black metal posers" who stumble into their cemetery.
Maggot Hatchery
This is the most purely brutal track on the record, edging more into sheer death metal than catchy thrash. It's a fast, furious and morbid ride, relating the story of how the Swamp Hag breeds a particularly nasty giant maggot that escapes into the sewers." She spends her evenings creating disease/Conjuring larvae and maggots to please/Enormous pupae she constantly breeds/On disinterred bodies they suckle and feed."
Sewer Chewer
The giant maggot makes its way into Ghoul's catacombs and suddenly bursts open, revealing a new Ghoul named Dissector who promptly joins his comrades and unleashes a killer old school guitar solo. This is chunky, choppy thrash like an evil Anthrax, brimming with perversely fast and catchy riffs.
Ghoul Hunter
Ghoul's perpetual nemesis the Ghoul Hunter is introduced here, as he narrates this odd cut. Over a cool mid-paced riff, the droll G.H. tells how he stumbled into Ghoul's catacombs and was almost caught by them. The chorus is blazing fast and really embeds itself in your brain. "Ghoul Hunter/You bet your life you're going to die/Ghoul Hunter/We'll eat you baked, broiled or fried!" Funny stuff!
Numbskull
Here's another super-catchy track, not too fast but pounding nonetheless, that boasts one of the best choruses on the record. The clean vocals intoning "I Am A Numbskull" really help. The lyrics here describe how Ghoul brews the potent liquor "numbskull" from the rotting bodies of the dead. The track becomes progressively more and more morbid as it goes along.
Boneless
If this doesn't incite an insane mosh pit, I don't know what will. It's just perfect as far as riff placement and speed goes and there's a very cool "rocking" guitar section about halfway through. The super-guttural Carcass vocals are pretty prominent.
Maniaxe
Relying more on Fermentor's double bass drumming, this is a more rhythmic cut that manages to pound your skull flat with a great chorus riff. Lyrically, this describes Ghoul's rage to kill after being confronted by the Ghoul Hunter.
Mechanized Death
The fastest and most frantic cut on the record, this one starts with a really frenzied barrage of weird lead guitar playing before morphing further into a rabid, all-out thrasher. The Ghoul Hunter creates and sends his frightful "Killbot" after Ghoul, only to see his plan backfire disastrously!
The End?
Here's a creepy little surprise! An instrumental composed entirely of Dick Dale-type surf music, but twisted to more of a horror-movie soundtrack feel. Plenty of eerie twang and pluck here, it makes a nice break from the pounding mayhem. It would make nice theme music to some horror-host's TV program.
What A Wonderful World
Believe it or not, this is actually a cover of the Louis Armstrong favorite, but warped beyond almost all recognition by the sick minds of Ghoul. It's a very heavy number but retaining a perverse "cheerful" feel to it. As for lyrics, check out how they are "adapted" to the Ghoul style: "I see babies die/I watch them decompose/ They'll hurt much more/Than I'll ever know/And I think to myself...what a wonderful world!"
 
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