Similar to Architects' 2018 opus Holy Hell - you'd have to search far and wide to find someone who isn't willing The Ghost Inside's return to be a home run. The tragedy they suffered that you're probably already aware of (Google if not) in the back end of 2015 means that realistically: the fact we're listening to new music from the five piece at all is a miracle, anything more than that is a bonus.
Admittedly that makes objectivity a challenge as you dive into this self titled efforts waters. And there's always trepidation in these situations that you can find yourself willing to fall in love with a record because its circumstances demand it, as opposed to an organic connection to the album. Thankfully the latest, at one time inconceivable The Ghost Inside record is a herculean feat of songwriting nous regardless of circumstance or timing: this is a spellbinding showcase of hardcore/metalcore, period.
To their credit, TGI don't make their life circumstance the sole heartbeat of the record - this isn't an 11 song masquerade of the bands troubles, but there are fine placements of nuanced nods at the matter which means when they do arrive, they feel titanic. It's no happy accident that the record opens with an uber precise fill from drummer Andrew Tkaczyk (whose performance on the album would be considered of the highest quality even for a two legged man) and you might find yourself caught in a web of emotions within the opening 20 seconds alone. Vocalist Jonathan Vigil's screams of "From the ashes, brought back to life" do little to calm the adrenaline either - but as The Ghost Inside weaves into full gear, its message becomes more widespread.
Sure, the rampant 'Still Alive' makes no bones about addressing the bands appreciation of life - but it also relays the groundwork for what The Ghost Inside were always one of the best at: few have ever been able to place anthem on top of intense, modern metal as well as the Californians. The gang vocals of the track name are a nice touch, but it's Jonathan's mosh call of "This is my new sound of sacrifice!" before chaos ignites that reminds you just what this band are capable of. Joy, gratitude, aggression, and passion are just some of the emotions the quintet evoke: and there's plenty more where that came from.
From here on out The Ghost Inside double down on what made them ascend to the apex of modern metalcore in the first place. They were never an outfit obsessed with expanding influence or revolutionising the genre - they were just better at executing the blueprint than most. The ferocious, humanity exposing one-two punch of 'Overexposure' and 'Make It Break' sound like a relentless knife attack until their transcendent choruses hit, while 'One Choice' pursues a more classic, heavy metal stomp and melodic swagger: this record is often unbelievably tight in its consistency.
Show stealer 'Begin Again' is where every element of The Ghost Inside's growth over the last decade comes together. Simplistic in its structure, but otherworldly in its delivery - the clean guitar backdrop is reminiscent of 'Between The Lines' from 2010's Returners, while its gorgeous crescendo takes nods at the title track of predecessor record Dear Youth. In three and a half minutes the band take you on a stargazing journey seemingly through their whole career, something about this hits home unlike anything else the five piece have ever penned.
An album that 99 times out of 100 couldn't have been written, by the type of genre defining band that only turns up once a decade if you're lucky: The Ghost Inside is the record that couldn't have happened, but thank god it did. This is more than just a tale of human strength having faced mortality - this is bewildering adversity blended with a quality of songwriting seldom seen in any genre. This album will permeate alternative conversation for years to come, not just because of its circumstance, but because of its extraordinary quality.
The Ghost Inside is released June 5th via Epitaph Records. Pre-order the album here.