By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Bay Area’s own thrash-metal equivalent of Gwar, long-running bloody hooded cannibal rockers Ghoul bring their theatrical shenanigans to the Oakland Metro when they top the bill for their record label’s massive Tankcrimes Takeover at Oakland’s Metro Opera House Saturday.
The well-established East Bay hardcore punk and thrash metal imprint was founded nearly two decades ago by owner Scotty Heath. Tankcrimes has presented two editions of the multi-day Brainsqueeze festival in years past that featured such major underground acts as Municipal Waste, Negative Approach and the Shrine. However, this evening of music will specifically focus on bands that record for the label.
Founded in 2001 by singer and guitarist Digestor (who may or may not in actuality be Sean McGrath, veteran guitarist/vocalist of iconic Oakland death metal band Impaled), Ghoul has crafted a preposterous mythology that is just as entertaining as the quartet’s humorous, gore-spattered thrash.
Claiming to hail from the mythical Eastern European country of Creepsylvania, the group is equally inspired by metal icons like Exodus and Slayer and campy horror flicks. Joined longtime bassist Cremator (aka Ross Sewage of death metal acts Exhumed and Impaled), the early line-up of Ghoul built a reputation for hectic riffs, over-the-top lyrics and hilarious, heavily-accented stage banter during live performances.
Initial efforts We Came for the Dead! and Maniaxe showcased the band’s thrash/death metal roots, but also revealed their ability to branch out with the post-apocalyptic parody of the Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World” and the surprisingly straight surf instrumental “The End?” mixed in with corrosive metal tracks. The band more recently put out a full EP of surf and fuzzed-out biker soundtrack tunes, Hang 10, that echoed the sci-fi surf of Man…or Astro-Man?
But it was the crew’s increasingly theatrical stage show that earned it spots touring with obvious costumed metal inspiration Gwar and invitations to play metal festivals in the U.S. and Europe. Introducing elaborately outfitted characters like Killbot, the Mutant Mutilator and Commandant Yanish Dobrunkum and storylines that tied into songs, Ghoul has refined its spectacle to entertaining new heights. The group’s most recent blood-soaked metal opus Dungeon Bastards for Tankcrime Records pushed their sound in more of a crossover metal/punk direction that nods to the ’80s efforts of S.O.D. and D.R.I.
Also on the bill is rising Oakland metal trio Necrot. The band started in seven years ago in Oakland by talented Bay Area death metal players Luca Indrio (the band’s bassist who also plays in Acephalix and Vastum) and Chad Gailey (who also plays drums in noted local outfits Mortuous and Atrament), with Saviours guitarist Sonny Reinhardt joining the following year.
The trio recorded several demo tapes and built up a loyal Bay Area fan base with its raw, blackened songs and the blast furnace intensity of its live shows, eventually getting signed to Oakland-based punk/metal imprint. Tankcrimes would compile the tunes from the band’s demos for the 2016 compilation The Labyrinth.
Last year, Necrot released it’s proper debut album Blood Offering on the label, garnering widespread critical praise for the corrosive collection of punk-tinged death metal. Since then, Necrot has only raised it’s profile with appearances at major festivals like the Northwest Terror Fest and Psycho Las Vegas as well as a five-week tour of Europe that finished last fall.
The balance of the night at the Oakland Metro Opera House Saturday offers up some of the best local bands Tankcrimes has to offer, ranging from sludge-metal veterans Brainoil, old-school punk band Kicker (led by the ubiquitous Pete the Roadie and featuring members of Operation Ivy, Dystopia and Neurosis), ambitious Oakland death-metal outfit Mortuous, weed-obsessed headbangers Connoisseur, San Jose-based extreme grindcore quartet Deathgrave, and Los Huaycos, a new band featuring former members of ‘90s Peruvian groups Asmereir and Metamorphosis playing a hectic style of psychedelic hardcore on their forthcoming debut effort, Savage Monstrosities.
Tankcrimes Takeover with Ghoul, Necrot and more
Saturday, February 2, 6:30 p.m. $20
Oakland Metro Opera House