June 5, 2020 The Ghost Inside – The Ghost Inside (Album Review)
They have been through hell and back with no promise of return! Now that The Ghost Inside have bested each hurdle, they arise from the ashes with their triumphant comeback, the self-titled The Ghost Inside, which arrives on Friday, June 5, 2020, via Epitaph Records.
Formed in 2004, the Los Angelinos in The Ghost Inside (often abbreviated as TGI) have seen a lot over the past nearly two decades. Initially dubbing themselves As A Dying Dream, they released their debut EP, Now or Never, in 2005, before undergoing a pivotal name change and issuing their first full-length, 2008’s Fury and the Fallen Ones. As is par for the course, lineup changes followed as the band issued three additional albums over the next nine years—2010’s Returners, the 2012 breakthrough Get What You Give, and 2014’s Dear Youth.
And then November 2015 brought the devastating bus crash that cost the lives of two individuals, and left the band hospitalized in serious condition. The future was not a given, but the unstoppable quartet chose to pick up the pieces and march onward—which brings us to 2020. Proving that they stand by their message of hope and strength through struggle, The Ghost Inside—Vocalist Jonathan Vigil, Guitarists Zach Johnson and Chris Davis, and Drummer Andrew Tkaczyk—are here to present their fifth full-length.
The eponymous, 11-song LP was created with the help of Fit For An Autopsy’s Will Putney (The Amity Affliction, Knocked Loose) and longtime friend/collaborator Jeremy McKinnon of A Day To Remember. And while he performs on the album, the group have recently parted ways with Bassist Jim Riley. This fact, however, cannot dampen the spirit of hope and determination that sits at the heart of The Ghost Inside.
The album begins with the introductory “1333,” a just under one minute conglomeration of thick bass and savage percussion. Over the top of this, Vigil offers the rallying chant of “TGI / From the ashes, brought back to life.” It’s a mantra that repeats throughout the hopeful LP, and a line that flawlessly segues the band into proper first track, “Still Alive.” Wasting not a second, they pummel the senses with Hardcore gang vocal chants and a cheer-along promise that TGI are still going strong—because giving up was never an option. In this, it becomes abundantly clear that barreling full speed into their second chance at life (“Look into my eyes and you will find, I am twice the man I left behind”) is the TGI way!
Working as a ferocious unit, the quartet launch into another anthemic offering, “The Outcast,” a look at what it means to stand outside the status quo (“If there’s safety in the same, I remain the outcast”). And on their next track, the boys dish up some brutal honesty with “Pressure Point.” A personal look at the old adage that ‘the world loves a tragedy,’ TGI makes it abundantly clear that they do not wish to rehash their past hell, and they most certainly do not want fake sympathy. Frustrated by those that choose to drag them backwards as they reach forward into the future, the quartet raises a middle finger to the idea that they are merely a sob story.
Continuing to roll out the bangers, they offer up the infectious “Overexposure,” then take an even more assaultive approach to communicate the immediacy of “Make or Break.” A call to stop sluggishly accruing regrets and to do something, to forge your own future, the track serves as a motivation proclamation for achieving something more. The sonic opposite of its predecessor, “Unseen” initially allows a moment to take a breath, collect your thoughts, and reflect. A beautifully ethereal mood that calms eventually builds into the body of the track, which offers a search for forgiveness and hope as it battles against the invisible scars.
Truth be told, if there was ever a moment in time that needed a soaring, melodic anthem for refusing to fall apart under pressure, well, it’s 2020. A sing-along for those that refuse to bend and break (“I survive, I don’t surrender”), “One Choice” hits on an emotional level as it offers determination in the face of uncertainty. Next, they return to the vicious stomp with “Phoenix Rise,” calling everyone into the pit for its slamming reclamation, before guitar provides the melodies that weave throughout the personal rebirth of “Begin Again.”
Ultimately, they close out the album with “Aftermath.” A promise that the band has harnessed their inner strength and are better than ever, there’s a push to place a positive spin onto the negative connotation of the term ‘aftermath.’ Which, if you think about it, is exactly the belief that sits are the core of The Ghost Inside: the need to take the trials and tribulations of life and see them as learning experiences. Challenging as moments in life can be, there is nothing that cannot be conquered with hope.
Please remember: This is not a sympathy story, but a tale of personal triumph against daunting odds. Much like other heavy albums born from the ashes of tragedy—Architects’ 2018 masterpiece Holy Hell, for one—The Ghost Inside is a brutally honest ride that sees the quartet pulling back the veil to offer you their most uncensored reflections. They pour their hearts and souls into every ounce of the disc, all as they show their resilience—not just as musicians, but as the men they have become. In this, the eponymous LP serves as a gospel for The Ghost Inside’s indefatigable spirit—one that is very much “Still Alive.” For this, Cryptic Rock gives The Ghost Inside’s comeback 5 of 5 stars.