Review Summary: Triumph over tragedy.
I won’t begin to feign impartiality here. Not that I’m one for rankings, but The Ghost Inside might be my favorite band.
Fury and the Fallen Ones carried me through my formative years, an album that taught me I could convert what felt like an inexhaustible well of misanthropy and angst into something constructive, positive, and ultimately, beautiful.
Hearing the band play a song that would ultimately become Between the Lines is a memory I’ll never forget. Vigil’s call out of “What do you stand for?
” struck a chord within me that rings to this day. It affirmed a belief I hold at the deepest core of my being: that the only response to adversity I would accept within myself is to try and rise above it. I would fail at times, and succeed at others, but that was the intent I would commit myself to.
So to say that The Ghost Inside’s particular brand of melodic hardcore has always resonated with me would be a profound understatement. News of their crash devastated me. While their first two full-lengths were my favorites by far, I still enjoyed their later releases, and was glad for their continued success; maybe the solace that their earlier provided me would find others.
The band will always, to me, represent the beating heart of hardcore music. In their chaotic pit, I found none of my peers concerned that I, a scrawny Asian male in too-bright climbing apparel, stuck out like a sore thumb. We were all there to celebrate, to share sweat, misanthropy, and elbows. Nobody who earned their place there was out to act cool or pretend they were a part of something they didn't truly resonate with. What I witnessed was a writhing mass unified for all their differences, and it was powerful beyond words.
That being said, it is my extreme privilege to report that The Ghost Inside’s eponymous fifth album (sixth if you count their time as A Dying Dream) is easily their best. Lead-off single “Aftermath” mostly picked up where the band had left off, with a surprising few lines of clean singing that punctuated the later half, and imbued me with a cautious optimism for the record.
“Phoenix Rise” exemplifies just how far they have grown. Seamlessly willing to suffuse their trademark melodic hardcore sound with more accessible elements, imperatively commanding listeners to “face forward into the night.”
There’s something to be said for simplicity. For all that critics like to call them generic-core, The Ghost Inside’s message has always crystal clear. Forgive yourself and others so that you can overcome it all. “The Ghost Inside” is an ode to the very spirit of grit within us all. Track after track, it speaks to the brilliant capabilities inside us all; our capacity to rise above the darkness in ourselves and in the world around us.
Beyond that, this is more than a mere return to form for the band. The fruits of their labor shine brilliantly. Years away from the constant cycle of touring and recording to fight for their ability to simply be a band again have borne an album bleeding inspiration out of its seams.
Led off by an absolutely massive drum fill for any number of legs, the album opens to a triumphant claim of their rebirth, and proceed to carry that momentum for the entire record. Vigil’s penchant for writing infectious earworms seemingly strung together from memorable quotes and one-liners is on full display. The crushing breakdowns and soaring melodies that have always punctuated their lyrics are joined by introspective bridges and full-on sung choruses. And not a dammed moment of it feels fake or forced in the slightest. Front to back, the album forcefully exudes a willpower lesser acts simply cannot bring to bear.
At long last, The Ghost Inside are back and better than ever. We’ll see you when the sun sets.