Ghoul - Dungeon BastardsWhen first discovering that Ghoul was releasing a new album, a friend of mine had this to say: “I didn’t realize Impaled… I mean, Ghoul, was still around.” Then, while phoning home recently, this was what my mother had to say about the new album: “Who in the fuck is Ghoul?” Whether surprised by the news of a new Ghoul release or not, one thing is for certain: my mom has a potty mouth. Little does she know that her foul mouth is the perfect condiment for this idiotic Ghoul sandwich. Combining death and thrash with the absurdities of GWAR, this California quartet has solidified themselves as the sewer-sucking morons of the “death metal” scene. That may sound harsh, but it’s actually a sincere compliment. Since first showing up on 2002’s We Came for the Dead!!!, Ghoul (the fictitious creatures) have had some exciting adventures in the silly town of Creepsylvania. But a new foe has been born and he has quite the love for war and supreme rule. Will Ghoul survive the idiotic shit about to occur? Will Creepsylvania be a smoldering crater once the smoke settles? Will Ghoul (the band) remember to focus more on the music than the story? Hmmm… Interesting questions indeed…

For those new to the band, the first mistake is to take Ghoul too serious. Do you want old-school death metal, brutal death metal, or some esoteric grind? Then stay away from the sewers of Creepsylvania. Ghoul is all about having fun and Creepsylvania is a sanctuary from all your worldly troubles. Just like that place Steel goes to when listening to Jørn [I was born in Jørn town. Gonna die in a Jørn town!Steel Druhm]. Or that other place my daughter goes to when watching Paw Patrol. Creepsylvania is a silly little place that I enjoy absorbing myself into. The kooky lyrics, the slick riffs, the pummeling drums, and the barks, rasps, gang shouts, and hilarious whining; I love it all. And my appreciation for the band has not changed one iota since the first spin of Dungeon Bastards. It may not grab me the same was as 2003’s Maniaxe or 2006’s Splatterthrash, but Dungeon Bastards definitely trumps 2011’s Transmission Zero.

After the short narration of “Ghetto Blasters,” the band kicks the album into high gear. The remaining minute of the opener is a heavy, mid-paced, scene-setting chug. This is the kind of riffage that will be familiar to long-time fans as it represents Ghoul perfectly. From the opener to the closer, the band uses their death/thrash riffs to create a suitable environment for their ridiculous alter egos. Not all the riffs work, but at least they feel right within the album concept.

From here, we are exposed to the torrential downpour that is “Bringer of War” and “Shred the Dead.” The former is a stomping march that incorporates the band’s signature gruffs, rasps, and growls, while the latter unleashes Swashbuckle-esque gang-shouts and machine-gun riffs. Both are crushing but neither are capable of touching the ginormous thrasher, “Word is Law.” This track is like Splatterthrash‘s “Mutant Mutilator,” but heavier. To be quite honest, this might be the heaviest riff the band ever wrote, and its placement behind the mediocre “Blood and Guts” makes for one pleasant surprise. Plus it has the word “motherfucker” in it, so that’s cool.

Ghoul 2016

Unfortunately, not everything works on Dungeon Bastards. The setup man (“Guitarmageddon”) and closer (“Abominox”) work, but the most of the album’s body is quite forgettable. I’ve listened to this more times than I care to mention, but the title track, “Ghoulunatics,” and “Blood and Guts” do not stick. They’re not shit, they’re just meh. But, surprising as it might seem—especially for a band dead-set on destroying your eardrums—the production has decent dynamics; allowing for a rather smooth transition from the heavy stuff to those eerie instrumentals. Said instrumentals may be missing those great Munsters-like surf riffs from Splatterthrash, but I think I’m the only one that liked them anyway.

But, if nothing from this review has piqued your interest, there is one final card up Ghoul‘s sleeve. The album includes a Creepsylvania board game. Yes, you heard me right and no, that band photo is not a joke. No clickbaiting, no bullshit. So, be sure to get yours today! Available while supplies last. Pick up that phone and call now!


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Tankcrimes Records
Websites: maniaxe.bandcamp.com | creepsylvania.com | facebook.com/ghoulunaticsasylum
Releases Worldwide: July 29th, 2015

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  • Next up: The Manowar version of Risk and the Gloryhammer version of Candy Land.

    • Jorn version of Barbie: Queen of the Prom.

      • Don’t anger the Banhammer.

        • I think Jorn and company would make for a pretty interesting replacement for the characters available in Barbie: Queen of the Prom (1961). The original allowed you to win by getting a prom dress, getting a steady boyfriend, or getting elected president of a student club. THINK OF THE POSSIBILITIES. My vote is for: Become lead singer, fall in love with your hair, or buy a cross necklace.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            You should be ashamed of yourself for knowing this.

          • Am I the only guy that played with girls as a kid? Don’t any of you have sisters? YOU HAVE A DAUGHTER for crying out loud.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Ok… I admit that I know every character in Paw Patrol. And I am horribly ashamed of it…

          • [not a Dr]

            My favorite Disney prince is The Beast. He is hairy, has fangs, horns and claws, gets angry and breaks stuff, and doesn’t even remember how to read. Too bad Belle spends the entire movie turning him into a total wuss.
            My daughters play with Monster High dolls. At least they are monsters.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I’m going to make this game a Sunday evening family tradition.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        The loser gets to spend the next week locked in the basement eating dog food.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          That’s my reward for getting my reviews in on time… Beats Steel’s whipping post.

    • [not a Dr]

      Has anyone tried 011? The Therion themed boardgame?

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      I’d pay good money for a Manowar-themed Risk. I’d probably pay good money for any Manowar-themed board game – sign of the hammer be my guide!

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      I’d pay good money for a Manowar-themed Risk… ya’ll will feel the power of my sword!

  • Reese Burns

    This was preordered before I even read the review. This is one of my most anticipated releases this year.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    This looks great and was just added to my now totally out of control shopping list…
    Speaking of great album art, the site is going to look great next month when The Northern Sanctuary is the back ground…

  • lennymccall

    Really fun band to see live. As in the music is great and the stage show goes well with it. Unlike Gwar who play unlistenable crap IMO.
    The records are fine on their own and I’ve spent some time with them but the mileage is a little slim. Not sure if I want this one yet but I’ll check it out.

  • junkyhead

    Transmission Zero was one of the best albums of 2011. ‘Morning of the Mezmetron’ had such an eerie and cool vibe.

  • Dead1

    Good review. I totally agree it beats Transmission Zero but doesn’t capture the glory of the phenomenal Maniaxe or still excellent Splatterthrash!
    Still some excellent riffage and its great to see the old beast still has some life in it after that crap EP they released some time ago.

  • Heifer Madness

    This is a good record for sure. Best I’ve heard this year.
    It’s been an awful year for metal, though, aside from Vektor, Abbath, Conan, and this.

    • ActualBastard

      I was a little disappointed with the new Conan. It’s too mid tempo, not enough of the slow, perfect riffs from the last one