Over the past couple weeks, I find myself thoroughly enamored with this record. Ghost and Goblin (the duo of Nicholas DiMichele and Spencer Synwolt) bring completely original ideas to themes introduced by such disparate auteurs as the Misfits, Alice Cooper, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Damned. They have built upon the objective of providing the soundtrack to the coolest, creepiest haunted house/funhouse attraction in the world, tossed their lot in with true masters of the genre and have immediately elevated themselves to those same lofty heights. I know, I know! There are those among you who will dismiss the seemingly over-the-top hyperbole as a disingenuous attempt to garner favor (and free stuff), but I truly find myself liking SUPERHORRORCASTLELAND more and more with each listen. So… “Nyah!” to you.
From the haunted house intro (“SUPERHORRORCASTLELAND”) into the creepy vibe of the first song (the pairing clocks in at just over ten minutes of metallic bliss that borders on industrial), “Rust Golem,” you know that this is going to be as fun and spooky and intense as the album title implies. The slightly breathy, slightly echoey vocals are amazingly effective here. “Step inside the machine/All your sins will be wiped clean.”
“Who’s There” continues the haunted feeling (literally and figuratively) with some powerful guitar work and a frenzied refrain of “I’m scared” repeating through the final minute of the song adds a certain manic intensity to the already sinister tone. An oddly placed Flaminco-style guitar solo only works to heighten the creep factor. “Skeletons In the Closet” reminds me of some of Alice Cooper’s early solo work, particularly “Some Folks” from the classic WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE. The tune begins with an organ piece worthy of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA before the main section kicks in with a cool Rhumba/Samba/Tango (I know it’s one of those, I’m just not up on my ballroom dance terminology) feel. The PHANTOM… organ returns toward the end of the song only to be supplanted again by the main musical theme to end the track. With “Rust Golem,” this is definitely one of my favorite songs here.
“Look At the Clouds” is the first “real” song, eschewing the horror themes and echo for a funky, psychedelic vibe, intoning the Purple One himself, Prince, especially the stylistic approach to the vocals. Tacked on to the end is the minute long “Ultra Puzzle Song,” which sounds like an extensions of those short pastiches of sound and lunacy used by Frank Zappa to thematically tie the SHEIK YER BOUTI songs together. I wonder if the song title may not be a nod to Zappa and that album. “Magic Missiles” brings us back to the major album theme. It’s a harpsichord instrumental that would have brought a smile to Lurch’s face and had Gomez and Morticia tangoing madly through the graveyard. “Blood Beach” has a very eerie Joy Division new wave thing happening. Is that the ghost of Ian Curtis swinging to the beat?
On the surface, “Low (Bringin’ Me Down)” seems an anomaly. As the name implies, the song’s lyrical content is a downer, though the feel is more one of melancholy than spooky. The lone guitar throughout lends to that sense of melancholia and the addition of accordion (or is it a hurdy gurdy?) in the final section is nice, prompting a comparison to early 16 Horsepower. The metallic crunch is back for the doublet, “Fleshcraft”/”The Transfiguration.” Atmospherically, we can again harken back to Alice Cooper, as well as Rob Zombie and old Hammer Studio horror movies. These two lead back into a tarted up reprise of “Low (Bringin’ Me Down),” with a heavy, fuzzed-out guitar replacing the acoustic of the main song and histrionic screams and wails replacing the lyrics, bringing everything back around to the beginning. Have I mentioned yet how much I like this record? Visit the band’s Bandcamp page (ghostandgoblin.bandcamp.com) to listen or to purchase a limited edition vinyl pressing of SUPERHORRORCASTLELAND. Your ears will thank me.