*This review is purely about the music and how it affects me. I am purposefully going to pay no mention to the current controversy surrounding the band parting ways with their bassist for alleged actions. It is futile to feed into the mob and I’d rather avoid the current political climate, entirely. I hope you too can divorce ideology from art (for just a moment).
The inevitability of death is a truth every human being must face. We are mortal. Our bodies are frail. This coil is resilient, but vulnerable.
I honestly didn’t think I’d ever hear another The Ghost Inside (TGI) album. After their fatal bus accident in 2015, things were looking grim for the metalcore outfit. The severity and impact of this tragedy cannot be ignored, nor can it be understated when discussing this band. It is as much a part of the members as it is of this album; but there is more to their story than that.
Today I will be doing a quickie review for The Ghost Inside’s 2020 metalcore release: “The Ghost Inside”.
‘1333’ is a gloriously chunky introduction to the album, where frontman Jonathan Vigil screams “From the ashes brought back to life!”—a clear reference to their return to music. Telling of what is to come.
‘Still Alive’ has the same feel as older TGI output (see ‘Unspoken’ on 2010s “Returners”). Guitars are harmonic and drums are thumping. Gang vocals chant “STILL ALIVE! STILL ALIVE!” during the chorus, instilling a sense of triumph and victory. The message of meeting death and coming out of the confrontation in one piece affirms the core memo of this release: these dudes are back and they have a second chance at life.
‘The Outcast’ is a banger. Verses are punchy and fast-paced, and the chorus reminds me of the early 2010s-era hardcore sound. Breakdowns are clean and inspired. A fresh take on an old recipe.
‘Pressure Point’ was the second single release for the album. The song has a droning quality that pounds your synapses harder with every listen. Themes of the unknown, recovery and self-discovery pepper the track that gets better with each listen. The breakdown is brutal and makes my neck sway naturally. Revisit this one after a while. You may discover more that you like (with time).
‘Overexposure’ increases the tempo and surges into a catchy chorus that reminds me of a band I love: A Day To Remember (ADTR). Lyrically, self-destructive behaviour is addressed in a confronting and direct way. This song is a definite highlight for me. We all have a past and we all make mistakes. It is often our failures and blunders that help us learn and develop.
‘Make or Break’ covers territory I have seen TGI tread before (see 2014’s “Dear Youth”). Song six ultimately comes across as run-of-the-mill. To me, the song could have been elevated by heightened speed and additional layers on the clean vocals.
‘Unseen’ starts with a minute-long instrumental that is airy and light. It soon develops into swelling percussion and humming strings. The vocals are spirited and the lyrics pay homage to the band’s traumatic experience in 2015. I like the instruments on this track more than the vocals. A shame, really.
‘One Choice’ feels undeniably fresh for the band. Clean vocals are more common throughout this one, and is elevated as a result. It blends hardcore instrumentation with more contemporary metalcore trends. The chorus is memorable and the melody is very, very good. I recommend you give this track your attention.
‘Phoenix Rise’ is another song about picking yourself up from the ashes and overcoming obstacles. The layered vocal delivery is fortifying and acts as a safety net for fans. I am a fan of this band because I like certain elements (speed, heart, tonality)—and it is comforting to see them pay homage to their original sound here whilst exploring new frontiers. P.S. Jonathan Vigil sounds so similar to ADTR frontman Jeremy McKinnon when he sings clean. It is almost uncanny.
I fucking love ‘Begin Again’. Clicky and snappy, the song has a strong sense of development. A deep melodic structure underpins the instrumentation in a way that supports the story being told. I am a sucker for songs about new beginnings and second chances. This is a standout for the 2020 release.
‘Aftermath’ was TGIs triumphant return single released in May 2020. It is a song rife with metaphors about overcoming defeat and prevailing despite tragedy. It remains the best song on the album after multiple listens. The emotion is clear, and I still get a lump in my throat during the bridge. The closing track is hopeful and victorious in tone. I am so happy these guys are making music again.
“The Ghost Inside” (2020) is an album loaded with passion and intensity. Given what the members of this band have gone through, I expected nothing less from an outfit borne of ardour. The scene used to thrive on artists such as TGI, who helped mould it into a realm of fierce emotion and truthful introspection. I’ve listened to this album a couple times now and I hope to return to it soon, as I am sure I have missed some finer nuances and set-pieces. But I am grateful for this band and what they continue to bring to life…Even after death. Remember, you too could leave life right now. Memento Mori.