Though their name sounds like a quickly-shuttered local chapter of a MISFITS fan club, Montreal's GHOULUNATICS churn out instead a groovy brand of death-n-roll with the occasional tinge of punk. Patrick Mireault spews out his lyrics in French, with a voice clearly influenced by the sardonic growl of Jeff Walker in the latter days of CARCASS, while the riffs are kept simple, rockin', and to the point.
It's a refreshing sound, at first — after all, the scene's flirtation with this particular strain of metal never really took off, and most of the bands who tried it were maligned as sellouts and poseurs (if not utterly forgotten — anyone for CRACK UP or FURBOWL?). It's nice to hear a band unafraid to stick with an unfashionable sound they clearly love, and the production (thanks to Pierre Rémillard) is good and punchy, with a nice fat guitar tone and forceful drums.
But a certain monotony starts to creep in after a few tracks — as likable as their basic sound is, all the songs start to sound the same after a while. The riffs all seem like placeholders, building up to some big awesome chorus or hook that never actually shows up, and only when the tempo picks up (as on the more thrashy "Raz-de-Mariage") is a glimmer of interest sparked. Mireault has to shoulder a little bit of blame, too — his voice has personality, and singing in French is definitely a novelty, but his limited range doesn't allow for a lot of expression. L-G Petrov of ENTOMBED, and indeed Jeff Walker himself, were/are masters of getting the most out of their gruff shouts, but Mireault seems to still be a bit behind the curve on this.
GHOULUNATICS are a fun listen and a promising band, but "Cryogenie" seems destined to be lost in the shuffle. A shame, especially considering it's their fifth album, but it seems they still don't quite have the pieces put together yet to really make a memorable record. In small doses, they rock ("1414 de Malines" would be a great addition to any mixtape), but overall it just comes off as "Swansong" without the hooks, a little plodding and dull and not ready for prime time.