Review: “Ghost In The Shadows” by Rebelmatic

Writing lyrics centered around freedom, justice, equality, trauma and finding the light when in a dark place in an album that collectively forms an ode to life in New York City has already gained Rebelmatic plenty of fans in high places including HR from Bad Brains and Angelo Moore of Fishbone. That has no doubt helped to land them a deal as the first band signed to Red Right Recordings, a new label founded by Taking Back Sunday drummer, Mark O’Connell and producer Daniel Wallace with “Ghost In The Shadows” being its first release. The quartet, Creature (Vocals), Alkatraz (Guitar), Karnage (Bass) and Ramsey Jones (Drums) are part of an ever evolving and thriving Hardcore Punk scene that shows no sign of slowing down…

…”Fire This Time” launches head long into an adrenaline fueled riff that is reminiscent of Sick Of It All with a couple of shout along verses and no pause for breath, they could play it twice over back to back to get a pit going in the live arena, it’s that kind of killer opening. “Born To Win” shows things down with more of a stompy sing-a-long vibe as Creature roars “You’re born to win” with the kind of gusto that suggests there is more to this song than meets the eye, lurking just underneath the surface. Getting the full music video treatment “Blood And Gold” sees the band find a happy medium between the stylings of the first two tracks while Alkatraz throws down a choice solo that doesn’t break the pace or energy of the track. The video was filmed during one of their residency shows at bar Max Fish and shows exactly what they’re made of. “Pony” or “P.O.N.Y” as the lyrics flow is a cut that has a Madball influence on it and cuts a classic punk fist pumping, shout along track, right down to the melodic hum along final moments. An ode to New York City’s 24/7, lights always on life style, it will bring a smile to the face of any one who has seen it first hand or lived in a major city where the hustle to survive is evident on every street. “Get It Off” is a stress buster of a song, an anthem for the over worked and under paid who just want to break the chains but have to knuckle down to pay their bills and get by. Offering a darker vibe it has that grit and integrity of people who know…

…”Insult To Injury” has a surprise Southern Rock groove within its guitar sound, echoing the sentiments of the previous track with thoughts of being stuck in the mud before “Pinky Promise” takes a step back into the fun of some of the earlier tracks. A defiant little number it had a Surf Punk feel while saying “f*** you” in the politest possible way, with a wry smile and a middle finger. “Show And Prove” then amps up and returns to the Sick Of It All vibes with some more bounce and energy in the riffs and another message, this time focusing on culture being freedom. Creature’s vocal range and use of different voices during this record makes for joyful listening and when “Avenger” hits with a more sung style, it has that sing-a-long quality and could only be enhanced by a horn section in places. A funky almost early Red Hot Chili Peppers intro to “Emergency Brake” is brilliantly executed before stepping up into the bands usual groove that allows the bassline from Karnage to bleed through nicely, while also managing to incorporate some Black Sabbath esq riff moments. Expect Ice-T to be singing the praises of Rebelmatic once he’s got his teeth into them. He may even take them on tour with Body Count. They’re that kind of band [7.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Fire This Time
  2. Born To Win
  3. Blood And Gold
  4. Pony
  5. Get It Off
  6. Insult To Injury
  7. Pinky Promise
  8. Show And Prove
  9. Avenger
  10. Emergency Brake

Ghost In The Shadows” by Rebelmatic is out 28th August via Red Right Recordings

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