Ghoul unleash rot and bloodshed (and maybe a message) on ‘Transmission Zero’

This site you’re reading, the one with the ridiculous name, tends to skew toward the serious side when discussing metal. I don’t know why that is, as I never planned it that way. It just kind of happens. It’s a loose schedule I have here that tends to revolve around release schedules.

But that doesn’t mean we shun the idea of fun in metal. It should be there in the genre at all times, though not necessarily practiced by every band. I can’t really see any chicanery fitting into Moss’ or Loss’ or Mournful Congregation’s music. But bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Immortal, Carcass and more current bands such as Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch and Kvelertak hammer with you heaviness and majesty but also let you smile along with their work. It’s a release and a way to forget what ails you. It’s a means toward letting loose and shelving your worries.

Another band along those lines, though they certainly lean more toward ridiculousness, is Ghoul. The quartet goes by the names
Fermentor, Cremator, Dissector and Digestor, they wear ridiculous costumes, and they claim to hail from a place called Creepsylvania. Their songs are autobiographical-fantasy, in that they write about themselves, as their characters, doing disgusting and horrific things. They would make Alice Cooper smile and them vomit. But they also have excellent punk-flavored thrash chops, so while you’re taking in these cockamamie stories — they will make you laugh more often than not unless you take yourself way too seriously – you’ll be floored by their awesomeness as musicians. Not so bad for a bunch of guys who wear gear that looks as if it needs laundered after a murder.

Of course, you know some or all of these guys. Bassist/vocalist Cremator is actually Ross Sewage, who you know from bands such as Exhumed, Impaled and Ludicra; drummer Dino Sommese plied his trade in groups such as Asunder, Dystopia and Carcinogen; guitarist/vocalist Dissector is Dan Randall, who played with Born/Dead and Desolation and also worked mastering albums for Abscess, Impaled and Toxic Holocaust; and Digestor is Sean “Bloodbath” McGrath, who also played with Impaled, Engorged, Stormcrow and others. Along with the impressive resumes elsewhere, the fellows as Ghoul also have four full-length efforts to their name since their formation more than a decade ago. Their latest is “Transmission Zero,” a blast of blood and guts that’ll have you going back for more, no matter how repulsed you may be. And maybe there’s more going on than you can sense beneath the rot.

“Transmission Zero,” an 11-track album that runs about 40 minutes, gets off to a relatively benign start on the instrumental “The Lunatic Hour,” a well-played, nicely executed song that acts like the opening credits to this whole package. The band goes for the throat on “Off With the Heads,” a track where our heroes are making their final gasp toward the catacombs beneath Monture Noire cemetery, where only carnage and bloodshed are on the minds. It also is the destination for the many characters involved with this story, for they seek what’s hidden inside. “Destructor” has the fellows trying to avoid their demise at the hands of the Killbot (listen for the weird, robotic sound effects behind this tasty masher); “The Mark of Voodoo” is punchy and speedy, with the yarn being spun about the mysterious Baron Samedi looking for an audience in lizard king Basilisk’s palace, where he’s then directed to the catacombs. “Blood Feast” is punishing and mucky, where our Ghoul beasties go about devouring everything in front of them; “Morning of the Mezmetron” is an eight-minute epic that’s devoted to doom metal, and has three of the Ghoul members in captivity while Basilisk’s mind-control machine prepares to devastate Creepsylvania (told further on the title cut); “Tooth and Claw,” a thrashy, gurgly entry that sounds like Slayer moaning about mangled limbs, is the result of the brainwashing; and bizarre closer “Metallicus ex Mortis” is sort of your conclusion, where the Ghoul fellows get a means of control over the scene, only to have the whole thing transported via videotape back to some dork in Portland, Ore. It’s such a strange, wacky closer that it almost requires pizza and soda along with it.

“Transmission Zero” isn’t terribly profound on its surface, though you can decide if they’re making a deeper commentary on our cultural tendency toward mass consumption and total mental control by our television networks, that try to convince us a televised (and disgustingly mass-marketed) wedding of two celebrities is real and that you really can shape singing careers by voting on any number of live performance shows. After all, George Romero always packed his films with foreboding messages that went beyond flesh-eating and brain-destroying, but it was up to you to find them. Or maybe this is just a blast of thrash goodness that is here to make you wretch and laugh. Either way, you’re bound to get hours of enjoyment out of this pile of death and puss that, luckily, can only be heard and not smelled.

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To buy “Transmission Zero,” go here:

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