Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ghoul - Maniaxe (2003)

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.

I came to shred faces
And shred them I will
With archaic chords
That possess you to kill

Verdict: Win [8.5/10]

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