Review: “Self Titled” by The Ghost Inside

No one could have predicted what would happen after 2014’s “Dear Youth” and while pretty much everyone knows that story, it’s import to repeat it in the context of this 2020 self titled album from The Ghost Inside. While touring the record, the Metalcore quintet’s tour bus collided head on with a tractor trailer 8 miles east of the border patrol checkpoint outside of El Paso, Texas on the morning of 19th November 2015. Tragically, the accident took the lives of the drivers of both vehicles while the remaining 10 people survived, with multiple injuries. Vocalist Jonathan Vigil, lead guitarist Zach Johnson, drummer Andrew Tkaczyk and two others were hospitalized in critical condition and in the aftermath, Tkaczyk confirmed that the accident had resulted in him losing one of his legs following a 10 day coma. Each of those injured went though multiple surgeries but have since stated their gratitude simply to be alive and the outpouring from the Metal community and fans of the band has been nothing short of incredible since. The band, joined by bassist Jim Riley and rhythm guitar player Chris Davis (ex-Texas In July) have since returned to the stage for a number of one off shows and five years on, we are lucky enough to have a new album. Produced by Will Putney, who also Engineered, Mixed and Mastered it with the help of A Day Remember vocalist Jeremy McKinnon in a co-production capacity, it has intrigue written all over it.

The tone for the album was set back in April when “Aftermath” appeared as the first single and when the opening 59 second burst of “1333” hits as a breakdown with a single verse that says “from the ashes brought back to life“, it’s clear that The Ghost Inside are back and mean business. The Hardcore attitude of survival against all odds is at the heart of these songs and “Still Alive” sees Vigil screaming about feeling like he has a second chance at life and is twice the man he was before, a sentiment that no doubt rings true for the group that survived the bus crash as a collective. Will Putney being on board has seen the band turn back to the guitar sound that they had with 2012’s “Get What You Give“, punishing abrasive rhythmic batterings with mournful leads that are a Metalcore standard done to perfection and given that modern mix and edge by Putney’s work. Vocally Vigil is at his most throat shreddingly brutal and in fine form throughout. “The Outcast” sees bassist Jim Riley add in some clean backing vocals for contrast and the groove laden hook is an instant call to the pit. “Pressure Point” was the second pre-release single and got a lyric video, which talks about cutting out someone who is talking negatively about the tragedy and leeching away the bands sense of the positive and holding them back. It’s a track with a brutal hardcore vibe and fist clenched breakdowns a plenty, something that simply says that The Ghost Inside are back like they haven’t skipped a beat in the last 5 long years.

The Metalcore gallop of the drums in “Overexposure” is immense and McKinnon’s fingerprints are all over the unclean vs clean vocal harmonies of the chorus, in the sense that while their is no doubt that the band would have wanted to do it, but it is a typically A Day To Remember styled part. That’s not a bad thing by any means, it adds contrast and texture and works really well against the background of heavy guitars which don’t let up or slow down for them. Sleepless nights of regret are the tale of “Make Or Break” which rather than being a woe is me storyline is instead a call to break the chains, get up and get out with actions speaking louder than words. Another clean sung chorus part with Pop-Punk influences from Riley is present on this one, again intertwined with Vigil’s bludgeoning roars and it works so well, giving the track a sing-a-long ability which has great appeal. The expectation of a melodic track on the album is fulfilled by the beautiful and spellbinding introduction to “Unseen“, a song which questions if you’re lucky to be alive having survived the bus crash, with the enduring pain of the injuries that the band have suffered, nagging doubts pulling at the restless mind. The sentiment is easy to resonate with as we all have doubts and fears and the narrative is plain the see beneath the veil of melodic guitars that are just heavy enough to stand up to Vigil’s vocals which are as harsh as ever. It makes for an interesting change up to have no clean singing on a track like this when the opportunity for a melancholic single was very much here.

The introduction of “One Choice” has been well thought out as it gives a step out from “Unseen” before the heavier guitars come into play and the biggest clean sung chorus takes us back to the likes of “Engine 45” from “Get What You Give“. It’s tastefully done with thunderous drum patterns and Hardcore Punk attitude that will bring out the two-steppers during the verses. Continuing the flow “Phoenix Rise” is a battering ram during the verse and a sentimental piece during the chorus while a mid-track drop for an almost spoken word is masterfully done before a pick slide back into the riff action. “Begin Again” has the gallop of some of the tracks fans will have heard on 2010’s “Returners” with some post-hardcore leads in the pounding rhythms. Vigil’s call of “Don’t let the things you love… destroy you” before the breakdown is a real unexpected moment of quality in lyric that depicts his wish for the bands story to, as the title says “Begin Again“. Closing on first single “Aftermath” gives the album that all killer no filler seal of approval, in the flow of the record, the track could be interchanged with any other and it would still sound great, they all fit together incredibly well. The sentiment running through the whole album that life goes on, mind over matter, survival against all odds is echoed in the lyrics here and it’s clear that no matter what, The Ghost Inside are here to stay [8.5/10]

Track listing

  1. 1333
  2. Still Alive
  3. The Outcast
  4. Pressure Point
  5. Overexposure
  6. Make Or Break
  7. Unseen
  8. One Choice
  9. Phoenix Rise
  10. Begin Again
  11. Aftermath

Self Titled” by The Ghost Inside is out now via Epitaph Records

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