Ghoul Cult is a relatively obscure Death/Thrash band from Norway. Right away you can hear the influences from bands like early Cannibal Corpse, Death, and even some elements taken from The Big Four of Thrash.
The album starts off with the track Infernal Upheaval, which begins with a nice, slow groove, before coming in with an early 80’s inspired thrash riff, and almost Abbath like vocals. Track 2, Trionfo Della Morte, was by far the highlight of the album for me. With its slow paced intro, almost eerie like in quality, it’s almost Black Metal-like tremolo riff that just kicks you in the face, and an eerie bass “solo” towards the end. It’s on the track Night Of The Living Ghouls where things start to slip a bit. The production on the drums are really the low point here, and for much of the album going forward. On this track in particular, the vocalist seems to be losing his voice, as it goes from harsh, to a cracking “clean” style, which seems incredibly out of place. On Dirge For A Funeral Age is where things pick up again. At 9:06, this is by far the longest track on the album. However, those 9 minutes really flew by. This song, just from a riff standpoint, could have easily fit into the back catalogue of any band from the early Florida Death Metal scene. To close the album, the band ends things with a cover of Destruction’s Mad Butcher. This is one of the higher points of the album, it gives the listener something familiar, while still keeping in line with the rest of the album.
As stated, this album is not perfect. The production is very inconsistent throughout. At times every is pieced together well, and everyone sounds great. At other times, things become a bit muddy, and hard to understand the riffs being played. The drums, in particular, suffer the most from all of this, as they suffer from being the most inconsistent. At times they are clear, and well produced. At others? They take on an almost ‘St. Anger’ level of tinny sounding snares.
Where the production does shine, however, is with the bass. From start to finish, this album really is a bass lovers dream. While the bass isn’t overly complex, it’s very high in the mix. Especially when compared to other bands of this genre. While the bass does follow the guitars at times, more often than not, you can hear it doing it’s own thing, adding a whole other level to the sound this band is trying to create.
Vocally, this sounds almost like you would expect it to sound. I imagine if Chris Barnes had been from Norway, and took singing lessons from Abbath, this is exactly the kind of album he would have made.
Overall, the album comes off as a typical Death/Thrash album. While it’s not bringing anything new to the genre, it’s certainly not hurting it either. If someone had told me this album has come out after the 1980’s, I certainly would not have believed them, as it sounds like it could have easily been a hidden gem from the birth of the genre.
You can purchase a copy of the album here: https://duplicaterecords.bandcamp.com/album/ghoul-cult