Originally written by Chris Chellis.
A definite potential member of the Top 3 Albums of 2006, Splatterthrash seizes the nipples and rips flesh quicker than Lloyd Kauffman releases trashy b-movies for Troma Entertainment. Come to think of it, the album might make a good soundtrack for any number of Kauffman’s future releases.
Though these are supposedly the same musicians that comprise Impaled, Ghoul is a completely different animal. Incorporating enough elements inherent in a number of separate genres, Splatterthrash is an interesting listen, and, to say the least, makes it hard for a critic to pin down any one genre for comparison. Thrash, death, grind, punk, and even what might be described as psychobilly, courtesy of “Psychoplasm” and “Baron Samedi,” make themselves welcome guests on this collection of a wonderfully diverse thirteen songs.
Gang vocals work well for such a delectably schizophrenic aesthetic and contribute to the greater sense of variety (and fun). The effect is a bit different from Impaled, because song structures actually seem a bit tighter here, with choruses acting as glue for the insane thrash solos, grind sections, and mosh parts. Each vocal style contributes to an instrumental element, with the cleaner vocals highlighting the mosh parts and the raspy vocals slicing through the harsher, denser and technically demanding passages.
Don’t be too concerned if you don’t like death, grind or Impaled, because the elements pushed more obviously to the forefront are thrash and crossover, especially in terms of the mosh and thrash passages carrying most of the album through its entirety; think Funerot (for the faster mosh sections) meets early U.S. thrash (strictly in terms of the solos). Horror enthusiasts will also have a field day, because, go figure, the lyrics are well-crafted and pretty poetic given the anxiously psychotic feel of the music itself: “As your casket’s covered, feel the cruel hand of time / Ectoplasmic tendrils, enveloping in slime / Apparitions wail from the mould infested crypts / Skin begins to peel, turn to gelatin, and drip.” Some have complained of the sound not feeling as cohesive as it could on previous releases Maniaxe and We Came for the Dead, but trust me when I say that while I was able to dissect and attempt to isolate differing genre-specific elements, you won’t do this yourself while listening because they are integrated so seamlessly. The lyrics serve as an additional layer and you will want to take the time to decipher them, because they really do act as the core of Ghoul’s horror aesthetic.
Obviously, Ghoul cannot be so simply reduced as to be labeled an Impaled offshoot. With a sound, storyline, and aim all its own, this Oakland foursome, rusty knives in hand, carved its own niche into the dirtied, whorish tissue of metal’s black lungs. For that feat alone, Splatterthrash should be celebrated. The fact that they manage to perfect sound and story on their third full-length in four years makes them worthy of your worship, or at the very least, your money.