Album: Dear Youth
Release Date: 17/11/14
Label: Epitaph Records
California’s The Ghost Inside are a band that have created a sound that mixes together metal and hardcore to create something that helps them to stand out from the rest of the pack. Constantly touring has allowed them to reach people in every corner of the globe and to continue to make this music that is somewhat in-between metal and hardcore. This unclear labelling of the band and ‘what’ they are has been both a blessing and a curse and has shaped a ‘marmite’ divide in both genres. But in all honesty, who gives a shit, we like the band and what they do. So now we’re going to sit back and take in Dear Youth and evaluate it how we see fit.
One of the key factors around the bands music is the lyrical content they bring to the table, hopeful and motivating lyrics like on album opener ‘Avalanche’ help not only themselves but the kids who listen and take it all in. “I can’t stop screaming these words over again, until breath escapes and my chest caves in. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been, can’t give in, and shut down, just breathe in and breathe out and begin. I shook the hand of doubt so I could sever the lines that he spits from his mouth. And now it’s time to pull through, something I must do with or without you.” The instrumentation doesn’t stray too far from what the quintet normally write, but feels more cohesive and flows a lot better than previous material. ‘Move Me’ has a very old school TGI feel to it with bruising guitar work and pounding drums, courtesy of Andrew Tkaczyk. However there is a lot more melody being injected into the choruses and also the lead guitar lines which combine to make this effort sound huge.
From that we move on to ‘Out Of Control’ which is one of the heaviest tracks the band have penned to date. A filthy groovetastic riff kicks the third track on the album into life before another dose of melodic and meticulously crafted vocal patterns make up the chorus. The album was produced by Andrew Wade and Jeremy Mckinnon (A Day To Remember) again and Jeremy’s influence is all over this record in the most obvious of ways. ‘With The Wolves’ is a lighter effort with a ‘radio friendly’ feel to it but without losing its intensity whilst ‘Mercy’ sounds unlike anything they’ve written before. The opening riffs aren’t your standard TGI riffs which are a welcome addition to their fretwork arsenal, until a building rhythm climaxes into a devastating beatdown and vocal call to arms. “Life’s swinging hard, but I’m swinging harder” cries out and speaks volumes of Jonathan Vigil’s intentions and mentality he’s taking into this record. The mellow and cleaner music continues to come with a beautiful intro to ‘Phoenix Flame’, a subdued song complete with heartfelt lyrics and strings. Again another song that sounds nothing like anything they’ve written before.
‘Dear Youth (Day 52)’ has been with us for a while now and we thought it was a good choice to release early as this possibly is the best way the band could have shown what direction they were heading in with the album. It has all the usual TGI elements in there plus all this new and intriguing material. The punk beats and pace arrive in the form of ‘Wide Eyed’ getting off to a blistering start, before Jason Aalon Butler (letlive.) joins the party with a spoken word section to frontman Jonathan Vigil. He mentions the bands original name (A Dying Dream) and how about no one gave a shit about them, and in true Jason style he steals the show on this one. ‘My Endnote’ comes across a little stale after you’ve heard the previous tracks and the influences and experiments that have taken place to move into new territory. ‘The Other Half’ is an utterly fantastic song with plenty of clean backing vocals and a few “ooh ooooh ooh’s” thrown in for good measure.
Album closer ‘Blank Pages’ brings Dear Youth full circle with a dreary opening and repeating the opening lyrics to the album. This may sound lazy and repetitive but it actually works brilliantly. It emphasises the message the lyrics hold and force you to think about them over again until they get stuck in your head and resonate with you. Overall this is a brave record from The Ghost Inside, there’s not enough clean singing to warrant people calling them ‘sell outs’ and the message has never been stronger, which helps reaffirm their hardcore values and belonging to the scene that likes to divide opinion.