Review by Ryan on June 26, 2014.
Ghoul are a bunch of sarcastic, snide, belligerent assholes. Lucky for me that they’re also charismatic, clever, and know exactly when to play things straight and let the joke speak for itself.
Humor and metal are often tenuous allies. You have to (pun intended) strike the right note, and you must know and love the culture before you can make fun of it. The mockery must fit the music, and present a theme of “this thing is really sad, or creepy, or stupid, or weird, and here is why something is wrong with me for loving it.” Imagine doing all of this in a legitimate metal song, and you see the challenge we’re up against here.
Hang Ten is a mean little EP that succeeds because it mines a dirty little secret: extreme metal guitar techniques owe a LOT to the surf guitar players of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Ghoul bastardize this theme into a bizarre fantasy where pissed-off greasers and biker gangs worship at the altar of Dick Dale and give an extra headbang on that second snare beat.
This (mostly) instrumental EP isn’t entirely original. Sacred Reich pointed out the link between surf rock and thrash metal as early as 1988 with Surf Nicaragua and Anthrax released a cover of The Ventures Pipeline just a year later. Ghoul, however, realize this absurd confluence with a full conviction to dementia and depravity that puts those earlier efforts in the shadows. The gag is at once gloriously tacky and taken to its proper conclusion, perhaps climaxing with the faux-Iggy Pop mid-track voiceovers on “Sidehackers” - a tune named after a gleefully bad b-movie. Combine this with album art straight from the tradition of Ed Roth’s “Ratfink,” and I’ll bet someone here is a big fan of White Zombie’s La Sexorcisto.
The six songs are all short, and maintain Ghoul’s reputation as a thrash band (this is the first time I’ve listened to an entire release by them) angled squarely at the target of “beer metal.” Their obnoxious humor and liver-destroying riffs overcome any deficiencies of uniqueness, putting a grin on my face and a gun to my head. Is this a lost weekend that nobody will remember? Probably, but I imagine there are also incriminating photos that will draw some nostalgic chuckles.
Rating: 8 out of 10