Review: Ghoul ‘Noxious Concoctions’ EP

I’m always down for some good, old-fashioned thrash, and when there’s some death metal sprinkled in for good measure, all the better. Fortunately, Oakland’s hooded, self-proclaimed ‘splatter thrash’ merchants, Ghoul, are back after a long hiatus, their last full length was 2016’s Dungeon Bastards, with the blistering new EP Noxious Concoctions.

Ghoul 'Noxious Concoctions' EP Artwork
Ghoul ‘Noxious Concoctions’ EP Artwork

I had heard of Ghoul as they run in similar circles to other Oakland metal bands I’m familiar with. Rumor has it, all of the musicians in Ghoul are also members of other well-known bands, like Impaled, Exhumed, and the live incarnation of Wolves In The Throne Room, to name a few so I was ready to hit ‘play’ as I had never experienced their particular brand of thrash.

Opener, The Eyes Of The Witch, lives up to its name with some witch-y, invocation-sampling that kicks things off with a chugging, death-y ripper that’s stuffed with riffs, as well as some semi-melodic lead work. Allegedly, all four members ‘sing’ so we get many flavors of vocals, from the evil-ish bark to the unintelligible, guttural grunts. The real hero of The Eyes Of The Witch though is drummer Fermentor who manages to unfurl a kaleidoscope of charging thrash, blast beats, and all-out double bass destruction, to say nothing of his impeccable tone.

The title track, Noxious Concoctions, is an unrelenting, old-school death-drenched thrash pummeling, complete with a full-on crushing middle breakdown, and plenty of screaming lead work. Elsewhere, first single, Shotgun Gulch, is a chugging, mid-tempo thrash cruncher that conjures up Pleasures Of The Flesh-era Exodus, at least in the riffage, and shouted, backup vocals.

A fun, blazing, rip-roaring release and in these fucked up times, we need to have a blast of a band like Ghoul every now and again…

Next up is Ratlicker, which is arguably the best song title I’ve ever encountered in forty-one-years of listening to metal. The song, luckily, mostly lives up to its lofty title with plenty of menacing, chugging, thrashing riffage, searing lead work, some shout-along vocals and a nice mid-tempo, drum beating.

In the blink of an eye Noxious Concoctions reaches its conclusion with a split-second, face-ripping cover of Olympia, Washington’s early ‘00s thrash, death and crossover peddlers Funerot and the track 1-900-DTH-LINE, which is a fitting exclamation point to this lightning-fast EP.

A fun, blazing, rip-roaring release and in these fucked up times, we need to have a blast of a band like Ghoul every now and again reminding us not to take things too seriously and that you can never go wrong with some tried and true death metal mixed with crossover-tinged thrash.

Label: Tankcrimes
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Scribed by: Matthew Williams