Review Summary: Self-reflective and with a bigger budget, Andy Biersack and John Feldmann craft an excellent sophomore album.The Shadow Side
was a great album that could have been much better. It featured great production, and some nice ballads, but the whole album itself felt like it could have been cut down to size. With every good song, it seemed that it was matched with a poor tune that was included just to add more content into the album. And even with it's fun appeal, it's dark lyrics and baroque elements made it feel like a Black Veil Brides side project instead of Andy Biersack's solo launchpad. Thankfully, The Ghost of Ohio
addresses and fixes almost all of those problems; crafting an introspective and somber record that improves upon his debut.
Once again, Andy Black continues his partnership with John Feldmann, who is riding a wave of popularity after reviving the career and reputation of Blink-182. With this second album, it seems that they were given a bigger budget, as the album utilizes a variety of new instruments from saxophones, to organs, and heavy electric guitars. It also features a lot more studio editing, with multiple vocal edits and tonal shifts within the songs. This is evident in tracks like The Wind & Spark
where piano, percussion, electric guitar, and Andy's vocals all crash into each other, creating a fun ballad that becomes really catchy after multiple listens.
Within The Ghost of Ohio
, many songs seems to be Andy delving into his past, his career, and his present reputation and life. The lyrics largely are self-referential, with big examples in Ghost of Ohio
, where Andy reflects that most of his popularity has not reached most of his home in Ohio, where he is still largely unknown; and The Promise
as Andy talks about his career beginnings and how his past influenced who he is now:
Living on the west side born and raised
Made a deal with the devil, found glory days
There's no way that I'll stay
Driving down on highway 75
Watch the world come down on borrowed time
Find some way to escape
But we all find home
We all find home
Of course the best track on the album goes to Westwood Road
a bombastic percussion based track with subtle synths that pulsate as Andy sings with a small filter that creates an "open-mic" effect within his vocals. It also includes Andy's signature of crowd-choral anthems who sing "Oh Oh Ooh Ah Oh" towards the end of the track.
Unlike The Shadow Side
none of the tracks here feel like filler. Each track seems carefully curated so as to capture the attention of the listener and fit the overall aesthetic of the album itself; blockbuster Pop with somber lyrics and an upbeat production. No other song on the album captures this idea more than Feat or Famine
with features somber lyrics with a heavy percussion as distorted synths fill the track and create an upbeat ballad to clash with the lyrics themselves.
The Ghost of Ohio
is Andy Biersack looking in the mirror and seeing what he has become and what that means for his own future. We can't change the past, but we can take the lessons they teach us to create a better future for ourselves. With The Ghost of Ohio
Andy doesn't just acknowledge that change must be made, but he lays the lyrics before us and dares to ask the listener "Where the Hell do I go from here?" I don't have the answer to that question Andy, but something tells me that, by now, you've already found the answer.