Review Summary: There's no such thing as sweet goodbyes
The genre of post-hardcore/screamo that peaked in popularity in the early 2000’s is very much like an African elephant. One might attribute this to both being very similarly large and grey, with a trunk and ears to match. However, that would be totally ridiculous. No, this comparison comes from the fact that both are about as good as dead, nearing a level of actual extinction. The genre was once so popular that it was nigh on impossible to be anywhere within the vicinity of a large number of teenagers without encountering a group of adolescents draped in From First To Last hoodies whose Finch and Alexisonfire CDs found pride of place in Quiksilver and Rip Curl bags hanging well below the suggested height.
Since then, the advent of newer, more scene friendly ‘core’ genres have overshadowed their predecessor; side fringes have been replaced by mullets and band hoodies replaced by wife beater vests, whilst the extreme dynamics and guitar led nature of the music has been substituted for mind numbingly repetitive breakdowns and dog bark style harsh vocals. Most bands that attempt to emulate their early 2000’s heroes find themselves at the bottom of the pile, often unable to gain recognition over the numerous generic-core bands that flood the scene in the modern day. However, some are an exception, and that’s where Shadows Chasing Ghosts come in.
With ‘The Golden Ratio’, Shadows Chasing Ghosts achieve what so many bands do not; they wear their influences on their sleeve whilst creating a record that is able to stand out on its own. ‘Girl in Sheep’s Clothing’ proves to be a strong opener, demonstrating the band’s aggressive guitar led style and relentless energy. The riffs are impressive and consistent, and the sound is thick, giving all the intensity and ferocity of a live show. Songwriting proves to be a strong point, with the band proving that they can craft aggressive songs without compromising on catchiness and huge sing along choruses.
Most importantly, however, the group makes full use of their main asset throughout the album; the vocal capabilities of front man Trey Tremain. Despite boasting a faux-American accent, Tremain’s vocals are undoubtedly the highlight, flowing seamlessly between soaring clean melodies and a range of powerful growls and screams. The album has enough diversity to allow the front man’s vocals to shine thoroughly too; from the harsh, almost Keith Buckley-esque screams of Southern Rock tinged ‘The Recovery’ to the emotionally explicit acoustic number ‘Timelines’, Tremain proves himself to be one of the leading vocalists in the British scene. Furthermore, the lyrics on display are unlike most of what has come to be expected from post-hardcore, in that they are actually highly tolerable. Of course, the subject matter is nothing new (it is clear that some girl has been a real bitch), but the use of expansive metaphors and avoidance of key clichés allows the lyrical content to stand on its own in a respectable position.
The finished product is a sleek, fine tuned culmination of all that has come before in the genre, taking heed of the music of the likes of Story of the Year, Burden of a Day and early Escape the Fate to craft a record with very little, if any, filler material. The production is literal perfection, allowing every track to sound massive and energetic, whilst remaining crystal clear throughout. Though it is by no means reinventing the wheel, there is very little to complain about with. Lovers of post-hardcore will take to this record as one of the best available at the minute and a refreshing change from the floods of breakdown laden crabcore acts that infest the current scene. This could be post-hardcore’s last hope, and what a wonderful hope it is.