Review Summary: A return for the fans
At least The Ghost Inside didn’t tag Returners
early on with this trite "faster, heavier, more melodic
" garbage, right? You know, the kind of advertisement bands use to build up their next releases that’s really just as generic in what it promises as the stingy critics complain that this whole whirlpool of core-to-the-floor brothers and all sub-genre is. Nope, The Ghost Inside instead promised to release another melodic metalcore-esque album for the fans - and you know what? Good for them. Commendable. Unpretentious. All but predicting
for us a sound that was almost predictable
to begin with, if you know what I mean. As long as you didn’t hear, or at least weren’t swayed by, the loads of hype breaking-down all around Returners
, you shouldn’t be disappointed. In fact, you could just boot up The Ghost Inside’s first outing, Fury And The Fallen Ones
, to get a good sonic picture of what Returners
might sound like if their debut had instead been recorded with the experience of two years of touring under the band’s belts. The imagined album and the real product would practically mirror each other.
So no surprises, right? Pretty much, barring that higher degree of experience variable that’s now factored into Returners
’ equation. This is the kind of melodic metalcore/hardcore that fans of the infamous sub-genre will love and the skeptics will hate, quickly offering it no more than a sigh of resignation: a sort of friendly bump in the grand scheme of Shai Hulud
, easily avoided or just hit on purpose for an exhilarating, catchy jump of el core
. Jonathan Vigil has always been the ideal frontman for this type of thing, the kind of guy able to stay pungent and non-monotonous in his vocal delivery, despite the fact that he never really varies his tone over the course of Returners
; but as it turns out, however, you’ll find that you never really notice that he’s cautious with varying his voice until you look harder into it. That’s the real
strength of Vigil: he sounds just as breakneck and furious when he enters us into Returners
with a suffocated, “All the wrath and all the faith I have inside is eating me alive!
,” as he does when he concludes the album over dramatic melodic guitar lines in “Truth And Temper”: “I am no king / A hollow man in a world of thieves!
The Ghost Inside probably wouldn’t be getting very far without the vocal work of Vigil, that’s a given at this point in their career, but they’d certainly be a lost cause if the rest of the Los Angeles group wasn’t playing at least par-worthy material. No need to worry there, though; the band are certainly competent if wholly middle of the road-sounding in their instrumental performance, but this is the point in the band’s equation on Returners
, and certainly on Fury And The Fallen Ones
as well, that distinguishes the would-be man from the boy, the could-be great
album from just the good
album. Zach Johnson and Aaron Brooks are still missing the vital cues when it comes to the precise implementation of their guitar breakdowns, sadly, as such trip-up chug-halters as those on the otherwise anthem-like “Chrono” and the plea for a life’s worth of dreams being lost in “Through The Cracks” halt any of the momentum the band had going for themselves in each song. It’s the kind of jarring behavior that gives this type of metalcore a bad name, it seems; throw in the fact that well over half of Returners
’ songs suffer from such a detouring of chop, chop, chugging
, and you definitely have a problem.
According to Vigil, Returners
is supposedly named after the reaction the band had when returning back to their homes after months of touring and seeing the changes such places had undergone in their absence. Conversely, it can also be used to identify the band’s choice of direction for this sophomore follow up: it’s more of the same that was first heard on Fury And The Fallen Ones
. Getting down to it, though, isn’t this what the fans wanted The Ghost Inside to offer them in the first place? And on the other hand, isn’t this exactly what the skeptics didn’t want them to do as well? The Ghost Inside certainly know who they are playing for, and Returners
is easy evidence of that: the fans. It may be more melodic, slightly darker-tinged lyrically, and still suffering with the majority of melodic metalcore/hardcore’s fallings – minus an annoying vocalist – but in the end, it’s still an easy-to-trace shot straight back to where they were two years ago:
So no surprises, right? Pretty much.