Review Summary: Ridiculously pissed hardcore.
Originally Posted by Ghostlimb's description of their debut LP
Ridiculously pissed hardcore with elements of melody, thrash, and general poor disposition, ghostlimb compile all the rage a minute long song can handle with sprinklings of social critique and dissatisfied sarcasm. This 11-song record clocks in under 15 minutes and is riddled with succinct aesthetics of the fast, heavy, and tolerably informed.
Considering this quotation, we know that Ghostlimb both does and doesn't take themselves seriously. Their previous album had a knowing blend of anger and melody that was so over the top that Ghostlimb surely knew how to sound as angry as possible without being hokey, and how to be as catchy as possible without sacrificing any ire. The alchemy was perfect if a little narrow and unambitious in its 15-minute run time. So, if I just told you that Ghostlimb's second album Bearing & Distance
was like their virulent self-titled debut album (released a scant 12 months earlier), but with more pissed-off dual vocals and more intricate and melodic guitar work, that'd do a lot of work to explain why Bearing & Distance
is probably the best hardcore album of 2008. However, when Ghostlimb only gives you 19 minutes to judge them off of (and trust me that's a full LP considering the ferocity of the music), there's an extent to which the listener may be left feeling used up and burnt out rather than touched by the particular nuances Ghostlimb manages to capture on each of the 15 tracks.
The melodic edge to Bearing & Distance
immediately changes the game Ghostlimb plays. Instead of pummeling the listener with catchy brutality, some of the songs push for interesting harmonic progressions (think of the bridge of "Port of Call") and other push for melodic arpeggios on top of the double-time riffage (introduction of "Document"). Some tracks even are even poppy - the introduction of "Copywritten" could open off a Rise Against album while the opening to "Laughter" is catchy enough to appeal to Victory Records fans. Even beyond the increased propensity for consonance, Ghostlimb doesn't mind getting a little bit more expansive. For example, the last track on the album, "Loxodrome," finds space for a half-time feel and renders the 2:08 run time into an epic, particularly in the context of a 23-second track like "Saltaye." If anything Ghostlimb is stopping to smell the roses, which creates a startling amount of diversity on a 19-minute album by a band that touts itself as "ridiculously pissed hardcore."
And how about that pissed-off vibe. As aforementioned, the vocals, while not improved at all, are even more vicious and grating than those on their self-titled debut album. The primary vocals are even more acerbic than previously, and the background screaming is sloppy, gruff and downright angry, creating a nice complement to the more incisive and sharp lead vocals. The general disposition is once again poor, but considering the melodic inflections and willingness to expand the sound, Bearing & Distance
has just a little bit more to it than its older brother. Somewhere around the upbeat, rock'n'roll guitar and hi-hat tapping drums of "Bridge Above the Water." I realized that Ghostlimb was definitely sitting at the grown-up table. The only downside of this album is that there is a slight sacrifice to the efficacy and conciseness of Ghostlimb's brutality. However, the expanded scope of the album and extra four minutes seem to make all the difference. However, let's stop intellectualizing this and get ridiculously pissed-off.