You can make a fair argument for rock ’n’ roll having found its perfect form in the early seventies. All people can hope to do with it now is make interesting and exquisite copies of its iconic template. And why not, its a great template. Let’s be honest, it isn’t really about the mechanics of the music any more, it’s about what you hang on those timeless structures. It’s about less tangible elements such as swagger and attitude, vibe and excitement, groove and grit…things which are more about the musical chemistry of the band itself rather than anything that you can hope to build into the songs.
And das Ghoul have all of those things…in spades. Their chosen take on the genre is a punked-up, low-slung, rock and roll, horror show, in the nicest possible meaning of the phrase. But whereas most bands navigating such a route seem to revel in a sort of young adult, sub-Buffy the Vampire Slayer version of events or get all earnest, coming off like an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical about The Pendle Witch Trials (spoiler alert: the daughter made it all up as she wasn’t getting enough attention at home,) das Ghoul plough a much cooler sonic furrow.
Their take on horrorpunkgothicrocknroll comes more from the B-movie idiom, it is blunt and to the point, it has a twinkle in the eye and is trying its damnedest to hold back a smirk, and musically it is grounded in kick-arse punk but with enough driving melodies and a few touches of grandeur to soften the sonic onslaught.
Video Nasty is a wonderfully humorous take on…well, let’s be honest, snuff movies, stalking and serial killing! But by the time you are singing along “I’ll put you in a video” you realise that it’s all a bit of fun. Make that a lot of fun. Formaldehyde Girl is either about taking extreme measures regarding holding on to the love of your life or possibly a new Damien Hirst exhibit and Porcelain is a great blend of incendiary, staccato guitar punches and Hammer Horror organ music.
If we learn anything from das Ghoul it is that we need to learn to laugh at ourselves again. There is humour to be found in the darkest and most unlikely places and after decades of political correctness and now being told that we have to be woke (which doesn’t even work grammatically!) we are certainly in need of bands such as das Ghoul to upset and entertain in equal measure. In fact, we have probably never needed such a band so much as we do right now.