Ghoul returns this year with one of their hardest-hitting records, after 3 highly acclaimed albums and 5 years since their last album, Splatterthrash with Transmission Zero. Released under the Tankcrimes (which also boasts releases such as Cannabis Corpse‘s latest album), this album promises to be a wild ride ahead.
The sound effects on opening track The Lunatic Hour brings listeners instantly back to one’s childhood, reminding listeners of futuristic, science-fiction films of space-invasions and the likes. The first riffs are soon introduced to the listener and and it is quickly apparent that this is not just another of those clichéd metal album as infectious riffs are unleashed one after another. The thrashy riffs on The Lunatic Hour sound as though they could have easily come off a crossover/thrash metal album, complemented by the raw energy of drummer Fermentor.
As the album begins proper with Off with Their Heads, one is reminded of a more fun version of bands like Gravehill, complete with a wider range of influences. The usage of different vocal styles also prevents things from getting too dry, as the band alternates between vocalists, at times presenting a low guttural growl while at other times utilising a slightly higher-pitched style. There are also punkish moments, with the shouting of the band members at the background on the chorus of songs like Off with Their Heads and Brain Jerk, providing listeners with fist-pumping moments. The guitar solos on the moment, while usually frantic and urgent, at times also take a slightly slower turn, displaying the virtuosity of guitarists Dissector and Digestor, yet retaining a sense of melody. The various techniques that are used also bring to mind other thrash metal bands, such as the usage of artificial harmonics on high distortion on tracks like Brain Jerk, instantly reminding listeners of Megadeth‘s Five Magics. Bassist Cremator holds his ground as well, providing the background and playing the role of the backbone of the band with the low, rumbling bass.
Throughout the album the band experiments with many different sound effects, keeping with a somewhat sci-fi theme with the robotic sound effects that are used on the vocals. There are even quirky and fun influences that the band use that shine through the music, making sure that the listener is constantly kept interested and surprised as the band introduces new unexpected elements at quick succession. For example, there is an almost polka music feel on tracks like Death in the Swamp, with the riffs and the drumming patterns, sounding like a soundtrack for an old black-and-white film with footage of people dancing. Such similar drum patterns appear once again on later tracks like The Mark of Voodoo. The sense of urgency that the band exudes would also definitely sit well with grindcore fans. The band’s sense of fun become more obvious on tracks like Metallicus ex Mortis, with band members making funny comments at the background, sounding like drunken banter, complete with a slightly bluesy solo on the song.
The only track that stood apart from the rest of the songs on the album was Morning of the Mezmetron, a 8 minute long epic track that sees the band trudging at doom pace. The sound on this track is markedly different from the rest of the offerings on the album, and further displays the variety in the musical style of Ghoul. The intro of the track instantly brings to mind Black Sabbath‘s older tracks with their dark atmosphere that is heavily driven by the bass guitar. Even the vocals on the track are mostly clean and spoken, with the echoic clean singing later further adding to the creepiness already provided by the music, and the song ends with a somewhat psychedelic sound effect, messing with the listener’s head. Fans of the band’s quicker works would probably not appreciate the track, yet this could have very well been the band’s intention – to display the wide range of influences of the band.
Ghoul, with Transmission Zero has proven once again why they are held in such high regards in the metal community. Whatever one’s favourite sub-genre of extreme metal may be, Transmission Zero promises to contain a surprise for everyone, yet retaining the very element of fun that most bands have overlooked and neglected over time which could very well be the factor that makes or breaks an album.