Don’t get me wrong, Omaha’s got its fair share of famous names and faces, ranging from Marlon Brando to Fred Astaire but it’s not got a rich history in alternative rock music by any means. Sure there are some bands you MAY have heard of at some point, such as 311, THE FAINT or THROUGH FIRE, but they’re hardly household names now are they? Well, to be perfectly honest, neither are today’s band…not by a long shot. Allow me to introduce to you, THE SCABBY GHOULS.
A relatively new outfit; the four-piece (Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Denise Hazard, lead guitarist Louie Hazard, bassist Alex Steffens and drummer Nathan Christensen) specialise in all-things that are horror punk, and while they’ve already supported the likes of DOYLE, their style is more akin to the cheesy entertainment of classic B-Movie horror, as opposed to the more serious sound of say THE MISFITS or early AFI. 2019 finds them releasing their debut self-titled mini-album…so let’s pick at this scab and see what oozes out of it shall we?
We open up with “Body Surfin’” and we’re immediately met with some deep bass-driven rock with an initially spoken word approach, before the frenetic punk aesthetics kick in. It goes from a weird combination of BOBBY PICKETT and THE B-52’s into some modern SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES type of darkened proto-punk amalgamation. The title track backs this up further especially with the vocal performance during the near spoken-word chorus, delivering that classic spooky vibrato, though instrumentally heavier in places allowing for more of a Misfits influence to shine through.
Speaking of musical influences, a band that gets nowhere near enough credit in female punk rock is TSUNAMI BOMB and there are moments of their influence dotted throughout this album, especially their earlier works such as “The Invasion From Within” EP; Emily Whitehurst (Or Agent M as she was known) deserves more recognition as a voice in modern punk rock, and there are subtle nods to her sprinkled over this record.
As is expected with this genre this is all over and done with in a relatively short period of time, with the seven tracks presented here clocking in at just under twenty minutes, but they’ve left some gems for last it has to be said. “Road Ragin’” is a wonderfully relatable, up-tempo slab of fun, simple punk rock. The typically common / everyday situations of rushing around early in the morning, late to be where you need to be, can’t find your keys, can’t find your right clothes, hampered by slow elderly drivers; it’s a wonderfully basic concept but delivered with the right balance of frustration and comedic charm, before we round things up with “Knife Fight”. Another pacey dose of frantic punk rock; the rhythm and hook of the chorus is simply infectious, and though the brief psychotic wailing's of the guitar come across as spasmodic, it’s still a fine climax.
While creatively and stylistically they aren’t as volatile as MURDERDOLLS for example, and nowhere near the bleak, black sense of humour of early TYPE-O-NEGATIVE, but they do have a certain quirkiness to them, which should appeal to a variety of post-punks, alt. rockers and Goth’s alike. There wasn’t a LOT of horror presented here truthfully, other than some zombies and a pun-heavy ‘Nightmare On Elm Street number’, but its early days yet for these Nebraska new-comers…just keep picking at that scab; their nostalgic blend of rock and cartoonish retro horror themes will bleed out eventually.