It's been 6 years since Dear Youth was released. 5 years since the bus crash that almost derailed their career and just under a year since their first show back, and The Ghost Inside have dropped their long awaited fifth album. An album neither the band, nor the fans thought we would ever see and an album that the band has worked so hard on releasing and being 2020’s most emotionally filled album to date. If you look beyond the crushing instrumentals the lyrics themselves are beautiful and harrowing at the same time.
The album starts with drummer Andrew Tkaczyk relentlessly beating his drums before vocalist Johnathan Vigil roars ‘From the ashes brought back to life’ while the slew of breakdowns crumble all around. Still Alive & The Outcast are as melodic as they are bone crushingly heavy. While most Metalcore bands don’t really focus on having chorus’, just having as many breakdowns as possible, The Ghost Inside have taken the route from previous albums. Catchy chorus’. Crushing riffs, thundering drum work and enough breakdowns to put an elephant down. Second single Pressure Point is easily the heaviest song the band has released to date, albeit with beautiful lyrics. And I challenge you to not scream along toward the end of the song as it’s cathartic as it is powerful.
Zach Johnson & Chris Davis show they haven’t lost their touch throughout the album with their riffs aplenty, duel guitar work and their indistinguishable guitar tone to create 2020’s most thrilling album to date. Overexposure, Make Or Break & Unseen blend seamlessly together to create three songs of chaos back to back with no stopping or lack of subtlety to make the best three songs on the album seem like one long madness ridden ride. One Choice utilises the clean vocals of Vigil to create an absolute beautiful song made better with the chanting ‘I survive, I don’t surrender’ toward the end. Phoenix Rise & Begin Again are two chaotic songs back to back that show both the Hardcore side and two songs that could have stood tall on Dear Youth & You Give What You Get with the melodic duelling guitar work, thundering drums and vocals combined to create the energetic environment they live in.
First single and final song of the album Aftermath is the perfect end to this phenomenal return. If you can get through this song without filling up then you have a heart made of stone as it’s the most emotionally charged song this year and that they’ve made. The Ghost Inside have powered through the last 5 years. An accident that made their career a distant memory as all band members were all in serious condition. Drummer Andrew Tkaczyk going through rehabilitation after loosing a leg and being in a 10 day coma due to the accident, but he’s proved that he’s still going strong and will stop at nothing to continue his passion. If there’s a record you need to buy this year, make it this one. It’s a harrowingly macabre tale of how they rose back to their throne from the bottomless pit that consumed them. And with their one off UK show now rescheduled to 2021, the build up to that will be out of this world. Brixton Academy, 2021 here we come. 10/10
Everyday Heroes: A Tale of Sin & Sorrow (Self Released) [Simon Black]
From the opening bars of Texas Red I can tell that this whole album is going to be down and groovy, and pure Southern Hard Rock at its best … which is odd, because they’re actually from the South Wales valleys not the States. The boys have been around for a couple of years and EP’s, and this is the first full album and the sound has clear influences of the likes of Black Stone Cherry, dripping the groove in a solid, heavy touching on the Stoner kind of way. What’s surprising, is that this is a really rich and mature sound for a relatively new band, although it does sound like some of the tracks may have been either recorded or mixed in different sessions (most audibly with the switch of guitar sound when you get to All Outa Faith).
Find My Way, is a more evenly paced rocker, but my twitching left foot is telling me that there’s plenty more tapping to come along, and single Sanding Stones keeps that going with a catchy up tempo riff and chorus that’s clearly going to work well in a sweaty pit, if we’re ever allowed into them again. Eleven tracks over 42 minutes means that this album doesn’t outstay its welcome, staying punchy and focused throughout with no filler material to speak of, although mid-point Victorious (Take My Chains) almost drops the ball, but this is overall a very consistent effort. The opening acoustic guitar led bars of The Crow take you into far heavier, soulful and radio-friendly territory than I was expecting, and a cracking clap-a-long chorus making this the highlight of the album. Even when the record feels like it might be running out of steam towards its close on West Of Forever, it pulls out a surprise trumpet section and finishes with a bold flourish.
I’m aware that some of my colleagues here at MoM Towers were less than impressed at a live show a few years ago, so I went back and gave their original EP’s a spin. I have to say that A Tale Of Sin & Sorrow, is a whole head and shoulders above those two previous efforts (a bit like the band’s singer/guitarist), and I find myself quite excited at the prospect of seeing if these guys can pull off live what they’ve achieved in studio here. 8/10
Ebonivory: The Long Dream I (Wild Thing Records) [Paul Hutchings]
Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way. This is a fucking terrible name for a band, conjuring up images of that horrible McCartney/Wonder song from 1982. Good, got that out of the way. Let’s get stuck into this opus from the Australian prog prodigies. I’d not heard of these guys before but this album, whilst clocking in at an hour in length, is crammed full of good stuff with noticeable influences including Caligula’s Horse, Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, and Northlane.
Formed in 2014 by prodigious composer, multi-instrumentalist, and lead vocalist Charlie Powlett, the band is Jake Ewings – Guitar, Louis Edwards - Guitar, Backing Vocals, Connor McMillan - Bass, Backing Vocals and Dave Parkes - Drums, Percussion. The band’s self-titled EP emerged in 2014, followed by debut full length The Only Constant the following year. After their second EP Ebonivory II, the band built a reputation in the Australian progressive music scene with multiple tours.
A huge mosaic of chaotic and complex rhythmic patterns, time changes and emotional highs contrasting with sweeping lows, this is an album that I am sure will become more interesting and enjoyable on every listen. Unlike many bands today, the contrasting use of soaring clean vocals and rough growls works strikingly. The thirteen-song track list reduces the risk of multiple overblown songs, with only two breaking the six-minute barrier. The Dream I begins with the soaring Devin Townsend style introduction which sets the scene, progressing through a myriad of intricate and detailed pieces to the concluding duo of The Bluegums and Introvection. Painting stories through multiple soundscapes, this album is ambitious and triumphant. Sonically there is little to criticise, despite the approach which envelopes a heavily layered style of play. Utilising a musical arsenal to create a mix of crushingly heavy segments and gentle light passages, Ebonivory include everything from brutal death metal elements that erupt and retreat to alternative progressive approaches. This is an album that shines brightly with a maturity that is both impressive and confident. 8/10
History is Thessaloniki metal band Northwind's third album overall, but it's their first since 1987! So yes even the Greek metal scene has the revitalised NWOBHM acts much like we do in the UK as with bands of this ilk, the sound rarely changes. The Wooden Walls shows this from the opening synth run and that distinctly 80's sound that brings to mind Dokken and Van Halen along with the obvious influences such as Judas Priest. The tracks on this album and as such the lyrical content deals with Greek history and mythology so The Wooden Walls is about the Trojan Horse, King Alexander III is a self explanatory galloping metal track. Marathon March is about the distance between the Greeks and the Persians and it goes on like this so they take the same kind of track as early Maiden drawing all from history. Unfortunately they don't seem to have improved the audio quality since their last album in 1987, now whether this is deliberate I don't know but the production feels a little thin, the other elephant in the room is that music here is quite simplistic, most of the songs are just a mid-paced riff and chorus repeated ad-nauseum. By the middle of the album I'd had enough of listening to the 5 minute traditional metal songs that are all very similar. Over 30 years of waiting and yet the conclusion is unfulfilling. 5/10