Ghoultown - Ghost of the Southern SonRaise your hand if you’ve heard of Solitude Aeturnus. OK, nevermind. Raise your hand if you’ve never heard of Solitude Aeturnus. For those who know every album, every song, and every band member who ever filled the ranks of Solitude Aeturnus, how many of you remember drummer-turned-bassist Lyle Steadham? Like a metal version of VH1’s Where Are They Now?, let’s head out into the Texas night and see if we can’t find good ole Lyle. Shhhh… listen… do you hear him creeping about like the Fouke Monster? He stalks through the brush like an apparition of his former self. Once the bassist of the Texas doom legends, he’s now Count Lyle Blackburn: actor, author, and mainman of hellbilly/psychobilly/goth rock/Spaghetti Western-metal greats, Ghoultown. Few have incorporated Ennio Morricone’s flavorings into the goth rock sound of Danzig. Few have written theme songs for the Mistress of the Dark. Few have kept the attention of grumpy Doc Grier for as long as they have. And, when I say “few,” I mean “few.” Now that you know where Lyle is, shut the fuck up and let’s hear what he has to say.

I can’t quite explain why I’m so taken to Ghoultown. Be it their debut EP Boots of Hell or their last release, 2008’s Life After Sundown, I feel a strong connection to these undead cowboys. Perhaps it’s their schtick. Or, perhaps, it’s that Ghoultown sound—that sound that “sounds” like the Southwestern desert. In the end, it’s something that speaks to this wind-whipped Arizona boy. Their combination of isolation and fuck-it-all attitude kicks up dust, helps one push through the searing heat, and reminds you that there’s one place that remains cold in this godforsaken place. And it’s holding your beer. Ghoultown is that band you always want playing at the bar as you take a detour home. Ghoultown is a reminder that shit happens, shit people exist, and all the shit can fuck right off. Their newest album, like all before it, is here to help you put the middle finger to your day, to the weather, and to all those motherfuckers out there. But, Ghoultown fucks the world in a fun way.

“Apparition” gets the horse saddled with a short, instrumental mood setter. It has the band’s signature Western vibe and trumpet support; signaling the follow-up track to let loose. And let loose, it does. “Southern Son” takes off with all the typical, rocking representations of a Ghoultown opening track. Lyle’s chorus echoes across the tumbleweed-ridden main street, the galloping guitars toss dust at sun-parched bystanders, and the trumpets bring gunslinging zombies up from their graves. Then “Ghost of the Past” arrives as the uppercut to the “Southern Son” jab. “Ghost of the Past,” “Blood, Bullets, and Whiskey,” and “Stick to Your Guns” have everything the quick-drawing undead could want from a Ghoultown track. All have some serious groove, sing-along choruses perfect for a Texas saloon, and attitude enough to challenge the living dead to a drinking game.

Ghoultown 2017

While these three might be my favorite, as far as clenching fists and instigating barroom brawls are concerned, it’s the vibe and choruses of “Cuchillo,” “I Am the Night,” and “Black-Lung Revival” that have me hooked. “Cuchillo,” in particular, achieves the exact sound that comes to mind when one thinks of Ghoultown. Its riffs gallop across hopeless sand, dragging the trumpet along much like Tuco does with “Blondie.” It even has those background vocals so common to Morricone’s Spaghetti Western era. Though it may be the type of sound you expect from the band, they’ve never achieved it as well as they have here. “Black-Lung Revival” also has some uniqueness to it—using clean guitars to introduce it and lead it up a steep build to its explosive conclusion. That epic build, midway through, is like nothing I’ve heard from the band before. And without that melodic bass and driving drum work, it wouldn’t have been possible.

In and around these tracks, “Vanishing Riders” acts as the perfect bookend to the opener, filling it with galloping licks and Morricone whistling. And Dirty Sanchez returns for another round of silly innuendoes in the “Revenge of Dirty Sanchez.” The latter reliving its Give ‘Em More Rope glory days. While everything is catchy and just as lively as it was back in 2001, “Black on Black” and the ballady “Tombstone” fall flat on these ears. This is mostly due to their oversimplification and go-nowhere choruses. But eleven out of thirteen songs, that I can chill/rock-out to, ain’t fucking bad. Ghost of the Southern Son may be a notch below the filler-less Life After Sundown, but it’s a helluva a good time. Give it a few spins and, soon enough, you’ll be punching barbed-wire fence like its strands were made of yarn.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Angry Planet Records
Websites: ghoultown.bandcamp.com | ghoultown.com | facebook.com/Ghoultown.official
Releases Worldwide: April 25th, 2017

Share →
  • Drew Music

    This certainly sounds compelling and the embedded track is definitely promising, but I seem to be unable to wrench myself out of La Partition’s djentle grasp. I hate 90% of djent, but those guys just fuckin deliver. Will revisit this once I’m emotionally whole again.

    • Caleb

      I didn’t even realize their new album dropped. Been waiting for this for a while. Thank you for the news, sir!

    • Goldicot

      Yeah, this review is awesome but I couldn’t enjoy it because I was eating a sandwich

      • Drew Music

        I’ll come back to this for sure, I’m just in an Uneven groove at the moment and fanboying it hard. There are worse problems to have than watching your catalogue of bands to look into grow while you’re too taken by a single album to focus on other music, I think I’ll survive. Might even have a sammich while I jam it, too.

  • FugitiveTXs

    The Dan Brereton cover alone should make this an solid 4.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It is pretty righteous.

    • He is the man. Where has he been in comics for the past 5 years though? :(

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I think the last Western-themed rock band I liked was the Long Ryders, way back when. Intrigued by this.

    • Kronos

      Check out Bird Eater. Western themed death metal.

      • Reese Burns

        It took me a sec to realize you weren’t talking about Eater of Birds by Cobalt.

        • AngryMetalBird

          Ha! Same

      • You wot m8?

        … but what about Me and that Man?

  • Sophocles

    Is Angry Planet Records AMG’s record label? Maybe a subdivision of Angry Universe Records?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yes. The boss runs it out of our converted meat locker. We outfitted it with state-of-the-art analog equipment and a mesquite-smoked spa.

      • Sophocles

        …producing ANGRecords

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          That’s correct.

        • Tofu muncher

          Signing Angra is mandatory then

  • Reese Burns

    Just a heads up! “There debut EP” should be “their debut EP”. Wink wink

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Ha!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      A cowboy might say, “that there EP”. : )

      • Tofu muncher

        Or dem there EP *spit

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Seems to me that drunken gang vocals are a trait common to cowboys and pirates. Or at least cowboy- and pirate-themed Metal.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I’ve streamed the album, and, while good, I think I’m more partial to something like Black Twilight Circle’s Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons. However, I can see this being great Summer music.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Those are nothing alike!! But, yeah, I do like that BTW record.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        No, not alike. It’s just BTW hits me Western buttons more.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Yeah, I get it. It’s got that cool, deserty vibe. This one is a funner vibe.

  • Ta2dlam

    I grew up about an hour from the Canadian border in Idaho and have spent the last ten years living about 20 minutes from the Mexican border in Arizona. I didn’t like this kind of western sounding rock-ish stuff then but I have a hankerin’ fer it now, it seems. I’m diggin’ this for those drives through saguaros, mesquite, and coyotes.

  • Man, what is it with today and the music I find on the internet? I think this is so corny and dumb I can’t stop rolling my eyes. Even taken for what it is, I don’t think they’re very good. At least I know this site isn’t elitist now, because this is about as dumb as Kid Rock.

    Ok that was a terrible thing to say, I apologize.

  • Thatguy

    Maybe you have to be from North America to get this. This is truly horrible.

    • Hulksteraus

      Band Photometer score?

      • Thatguy

        Zero!

    • You wot m8?

      I’m from North America, and no, it is not good. A dud is a dud is a dud, no matter from whence it comes.

      • Thatguy

        The voice of reason. I didn’t mean that I expected all North Americans to like this, but judging by the comments all too many do.

        • You wot m8?

          I really can’t imagine why.

    • Yee haw! I’m from the midwest and not a fan. I had higher hopes considering the bad ass cover art. This is an album I would have bought in my youth because of the artwork and been sorely disappointed upon hearing it. Thank you, internet!

  • You wot m8?

    On the subject of Country-Metal stuff, what did ye fine reviewers think of Me and that Man’s [somewhat] recently-released debut?

  • Tofu muncher

    can’t help but making comparison to Social Distortion, esp. the vocals, and I like SD/Mike Ness’s better.

  • Slimy_entrails

    I’d like to hear this on vinyl. The album, not your review. But that was good too. I like to see these bands that are making an attempt to keep alive the dying American psychobilly/western sound and wish to contribute. Vinyl way.