Ghoul - Dungeon Bastards
Death / Thrash Metal
10 songs (34' 58")
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Andy

All Ghoul's silly humor, blood-splattered lyrics, and crossover-thrash worship fails to conceal a band, now on its fifth album, that has has rarely released anything that isn't rock-solid. Dungeon Bastards is no exception. Like the burlap sacks that are still firmly jammed over the quartet's heads in a vain attempt to conceal their identities, the experience on the album hasn't changed much since last time; listeners who love groove-ridden and surprisingly melodic thrash with the energy of a nuclear blast are sure to get a treat.

For those who haven't had the experience of a Ghoul album before, the band, started by Impaled members who wanted to do a crossover thrash side project, makes concept albums about being ghouls living in the town of Creepsylvania, which is every bit as absurd as it sounds. This installment sees the rise of a dictator with occult origins who seeks a nuclear weapon and comes into conflict with our heroes, and supporting his arrival are chugging riffs that move with the speed of an express train. Shred the Dead and the title track allow the band to couple their punk leanings with even heavier riffs than usual, topped by a combination of death metal vocals and shouted choruses, but Ghoul has always been more complex than it wishes to let on, and it's not all just guitar blasting. The solos are two-guitar harmonies that approach Carcass songs in the prettiness of their melodies, and Ghoulunatics indulges the listener in a decent supply of these, punctuated by dramatic rhythm transitions that belie the dumb-as-paint lyrics.

As a tribute to early crossover thrash, you can hear a number of influences in addition to early melodeath -- for example, Death Campaign's submerged, choking vocals combine with the high-speed bass work in a way that brings Master to mind, and of course the whole album oozes around the edges with 80s thrash influence. But Ghoul makes the whole production their own, treating the instrumental portions with much more care than they put into the album's storyline. Listeners who don't care for the humor can safely ignore the semi-understandable lyrics and samples (except on Guitarmageddon, in which the nuclear-war-oriented samples last for almost the entirety of the song).

With so many gimmicks, it would seem surprising at first glance that Ghoul has continued for this long, but those gimmicks, and the not-so-secret identities of the band members, are just window dressing that covers music that can stand on its own merits. Dungeon Bastards continues Ghoul's policy of high quality with a blast of noise that will leave fans wishing for more than ten tracks.

Killing Songs :
Shred the Dead, Ghoulunatics, Abominox
Andy quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Ghoul that we have reviewed:
Ghoul - Intermediate Level Hardcore reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
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