With the constant number of groups that seem to appear out of no where and be dubbed “the next big thing” by everyone’s favorite magazine in Alternative Press, it seems as though so many artists release material earlier than they really should. While finding an original sound can be incredibly hard to do so, many bands attempt to do so, and some at times even succeed. For others, however, this is a disaster and their so called experimentation is considered a generic sound. In the case of I Am Ghost
, their EP We’re Always Searching
certainly did not strike a good note with me. The singing was in need of repair, the use of the violin came off as cheesy is most cases, and the instrumentals were quite boring as they overly used the dissonant sound with no restraint. After a week long period, what little effect the half of the EP I heard had one me wore off, but enough of the past as this world is all about the future and second chances. Enter 2006 as well as the debut album Lovers’ Requiem
from I Am Ghost
. Upon previewing this album’s stream, improvement was immediately noticed. The band has not only improved in all instrumental and vocal aspects but they have actually managed to find a respectably unique sound. After a mere three tracks I was sold, I was in complete disbelief that this was the same band and was anxiously awaiting the release I had just discovered a few days ago. Improvement vocally and instrumentally, along with matured song writing all lead towards an overall fairly unique sound as I Am Ghost
will show in their debut full length record.
I will admit, I became a little nervous when I first heard the dramatic opener in Crossing The River Styx
. It’s incredibly dark yet epic mood got negative thoughts racing through my head, “Oh no here comes a disgustingly faux goth record, warning: generic music approaching, here comes a watered down album for the next generation of lame scene enthusiasts to eat up.” Well let me be the first to eagerly tell you that all of those thoughts changed as soon as Our Friend Lazarus Sleeps
came into play. The opening riff builds up a little bit of suspense and right away the guitar tone stuck out. It has quite the noticeable tone, as the perfect amount of contour and mid allows it to set in a polished yet edgy texture. Production truly shines here, as the mix is darn near perfect and as things sound smooth, without there ever being a sense of over production. The end result is some fantastic sounding leads, which leap right out of the opening track. A very catchy lead line comes out over the first chorus as lead vocalist Steve shows his massive vocal improvement. I thought his tone had a bit too much effort put into it in their EP, and at times it seemed a bit weak and whiny. Here his voice sounds much more defined as he has naturally become a great singer over time. Even the screams sound more powerful and they are used in all of the right circumstances, showing a bit of maturity and improvements in terms of putting together a complete song. Drums manage to stick out with some fast beats and a selection of memorable fills on the toms. The first song does a wonderful job of introducing the record, as it showcases the group’s improvement and locks in that semi-dark, yet polished and almost silky resembling sound the band has evolved into.
The next track Killer Like Candy
is a perfect example of how this band has evolved. There is an obvious change in sound compared with the EP which was a bit heavier and dissonant, but don’t scream sell out just yet. Around the 2:10 mark here the dissonance comes out, the difference is it fits the bridge perfectly and is used in wonderful moderation, as the overall improvement in the band’s songwriting in absolutely commendable. Taking some steps back, the intro is wonderfully executed with some start stop rhythms over a moderately low riff. When things pick up and drums come in with a fully consistent beat the sustained oh’s work phenomenally in setting a dark resembling atmosphere. It really seems as though the band knows what direction they want to go and the sound they are attempting to churn out, the only difference is with their advances and maturity they are able to achieve what they were unable to previously. Let’s not forget about the violin, which does a nice job of adding to the atmosphere of the song, keeping that darkness lock on tight. Now don’t get the wrong impression, as this is not some ridiculous gothic project, this is rock with a bit of a darker flavor to it. It might seem a bit difficult to swallow, but the overall smoothness in production and the wonderful tone in the vocals make this puppy fairly easy to digest. Its diverse sections and at times stunning instrumentals will keep things from spoiling after a few listens, making this record one to hold onto. Speaking of these instrumentals, if some great guitar work along with an overall catchy song is what will please you, look no further than Dark Carnival of the Immaculate
. It has a bit of a static infested intro with a violin playing, right away creating an eerie mood. The screams in the distant only add to creating the atmosphere before the song explodes into things. While this might seem a bit cheesy, they pull of the intended theme wonderfully. Drums exercise some strong use of the double pedal adding to the fury as things lead into a rapid paced verse. The backing vocals of Kerith do quite a nice job as her higher vocals hit perfectly. After the second chorus a super cool sounding lead comes out over a little bridge. The tone is a little on the funky side but works out incredibly before dual guitars come into play creating a darn memorable bridge. Some whispered vocals over a violin dominated section lead into an almost epic resembling final chorus. Now at this point, I have realized that my guess that I would lose all interest in this record after three tracks was dead wrong. The incredible progressions and improvements the band has accomplished only will leave the listener craving for more.
Violin makes a very remarkable intro in The Ship of Pills and Needed Things
. That eerie like atmosphere is almost reminiscent of parts of Metallica’s S&M in that the violin persists throughout certain of the song, accenting dark melodies and bringing out some new flavors. Once more the backing vocals add a nice touch, Kerith’s tone is quite enjoyable and the usage of dual vocals is great. The overall mood to this song is really creepy due to the vocals and violin, but they do not hold the entire spotlight. Guitar work is fairly solid, as the riffs do a nice job when the situation calls for it. Also the dual harmonized guitars once more make an appearance, this time during the outro as the pace begins to slow. The only negative aspect of the song is the breakdown drags a tad, but the dual vocals do a lot in helping keep things interesting. Once more, this song really shows the overall improvement of the band in that they seem to be firing on all cylinders. I almost half expected there to be a ballad type song on this record, but I had no idea that Kerith would dominate the mic for the most part. Yes indeed This Is Home
could very easily be labeled a ballad as its soft texture and dream like atmosphere offers quite the change of pace. Her vocals are very pleasant throughout the verse, where she sings lead over some quiet guitar work. Things pick up a bit for the chorus with Steve coming and taking the lead. However, Kerith sings some back up almost echoing him which works out wonderfully. And what would a ballad be without a solo? Well the one here could have been better, but is far from bad, especially for a first attempt. The pace in most sections of the lead is a bit faster than one would expect and really stands out in that sense. Parts of it pull out emotion like there’s no tomorrow while others sound a little rushed. All in all it was not a bad attempt, but really the praise should be on the group overall for branching out, trying something new and not being afraid to fail. This is not one of the stronger tracks, yet their experimentation is admired as this track is diverse and still maintains the label of a good song.
I am not quite sure how to even begin an explanation for the album closer Beyond The Hourglass
. First off it clocks in at almost six minutes without contains cheesy and lazy one minute fade out. This really shows that the band can finish an album strong as this song contains a bag full of diverse elements and has an endless number of tricks up its sleeve. Things open up softly will clean guitar and vocals from Steve. Very quickly Kerith comes into play as they trade off some lines before harmonizing, once more showing how well they have learned to exercise their dual vocal aspect. The two trade off vocal duties for most of this song, following that same pattern for the most part, even when the music picks up. Drums have a ton of variation here, and that along with some speedy rolls will have listeners at the edge of their seat. A definite standout here is the violin interlude, as it provides a very peaceful, epic mood, once more allowing dual vocals to shine. I cannot stress enough how improved the vocals are and how well they are able to harmonize with one another. A guitar riff picks up the pace along with another roll as things lead back into the chorus before taking yet another turn into a different section. A moderate chug lines up with a roll as it leads into quite a strong solo. The lead is not at a full blown shredding pace, but it is at a decent length and is consistent throughout. Drums persist with double bass throughout the guitar lead as the rhythm section comes out strong. Suddenly the lead ends only for another one to begin; the double pedal is put away as the violin takes over. Changing to a slightly more melodic feel, the violin makes quite the appearance here. Once more be prepared for the unthinkable; another guitar solo comes in. Very quickly a tapping section arises and has a dual guitar harmony played afterwards. Never in a million years would I expect the group even attempt at a solo tradeoff between their guitars and violin. That was surprising enough, not to mention the fact that they pulled it off in excellent fashion. As the solo comes to a close, violin overlaps it a little before a moderate semi-breakdown section leads into the outro. The rhythm persists over some almost opera like vocals, as things sound very inspired and unique, providing quite the dramatic ending to one of the most shocking releasing I have heard all year.
Improvement and maturity are two very different things, and it seems so rare that a band can undergo the two seemingly simultaneously. However, I Am Ghost
has done just that with their latest release. Instrumentally the group has been pushed to new heights with crisp riffs, stunning solos on both guitar and violin, and some memorable drum fills and beats. Vocals have also improved, as the two vocalists both have advanced individually as well as a team. They both shine brighter than ever on their own but together they work as a fluently flowing lineup as shown in their trade offs and harmonies. Song writing has taken a turn for the better, as the record contains more variety in the sense of the ballad as well as the diverse paths the songs travel down. Things are no longer predicable or recycled, yet the group has not completely ditched their core sound. The darkness is still found, but it sounds more polished and defined due to the superb production and overall evolution of the band. After an EP and one album I Am Ghost
has managed to not only create a memorable record but also to distinguish themselves from their peers. Surprising, shocking, incredible, beautiful, epic, and unique only begin to sum up Lovers’ Requiem
as this record has easily been the biggest bombshell to explode on the scene all year as far as I’m concerned. It’s easy to digest, yet complicated as it contains unique sections making it a hit on the first listen. However, listeners will only come back for more since it has so much to offer. It is almost refreshing to be able to say that this group has used their potential to its full extent. This record puts I Am Ghost
on a trail leading them on a quest for being modern day post hardcore legends. That might be a bit outrageous sounding, but give this a listen or five as it should not disappoint.
-Our Friend Lazarus Sleeps
-Killer Likes Candy
-Dark Carnival Of The Immaculate
-Beyond The Hourglass
Final Rating: 4.5/5