The Ghost Inside – Self-Titled Review

Label: Epitaph

Release Date: 5th June 2020

Rating: 10/10

"The album showcases every emotion, from hope, to perseverance, to suffering, and more."

Sometimes, perspective is everything and, in this instance, it’s incredibly important to contextualise The Ghost Inside’s self-titled fifth album. The heavy music scene was left heartbroken following the events which transpired in Texas on the 19th of November in 2015. The band was involved in a horrific head-on crash involving their tour bus and an eighteen-wheeler truck that sadly killed both drivers on impact. The surviving band members suffered multiple horrendous injuries. Frontman Jonathan Vigil had broken both ankles along with several vertebrae and drummer Andrew Tkaczyk lost one of his legs following a ten-day coma induced after the crash. Every member of the band suffered life-threatening injuries, along with several members of their crew who had to be airlifted to hospital. It is no doubt that fans wondered if the band would ever be in a situation where they could return to their previous lives as musicians.

Four years later, after multiple surgeries and countless hours of therapy spent trying to walk again let alone rehearse, the band took to the stage to a sold-out comeback show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The band's physical limitations did not hold back the intensity of the performance. Guitarist Zach Johnson, who lost multiple toes along with having his pelvis and leg completely reconstructed, is well documented roaming up and down the stage when even his ability to walk is considered a medical miracle. Emotions ran high for both the band and crowd, which became most apparent when the band and crew who survived the crash united onstage for a photograph in remembrance of those that had passed. Despite being dubbed a “one night only event”, the band have produced the comeback album that has been considered one of the most anticipated heavy releases within recent years.

The starting section on opener ‘1333’ shows the intent of the band for things going forward. It should be noted that despite losing a leg, drummer Tkaczyk smashes out a solo at the start of the track using a customised kit which makes the song even more of an emotional experience to listen to. This is coupled with Vigil's trademark scream proudly claiming: “TGI / From the ashes, brought back to life”, which is followed by a wall of frenzied sound that sent chills running down my spine. Lasting less than a minute, the mission statement of ‘1333’ shows that despite facing severe tragedy, the band has been rebirthed, proudly returning to their former strength.

The lyrical content on these eleven tracks touches on everything from the accident itself to fake sympathisers to trying to pick up the pieces after undergoing a life-changing experience. It would be a lie to say that I didn’t get emotional a few times reading along to the lyrics. ‘Aftermath’, the tear-inducing album closer and first single from the band since 2014, best showcases the band's plight in the accompanying emotionally moving music video. This track is undoubtedly one of the highlights on the album and to the band, one of their most vital releases which shows that despite the tragic circumstances forced on them, it won’t let it define who they are. Ending on a lyrical high note and putting the past to rest, Vigil screams: “Yesterday is gone / But the beat goes on.”

That’s not to say the album lacks in terms of heaviness. Quite the opposite is noted as tracks such as ‘Still Alive’ and ‘Pressure Point’ keep the tempo high and violent, producing some of the band’s heaviest breakdowns. The production on Self-Titled showcases how heavy the band can be. It is some of the best in their discography, demonstrating that they have taken on board the criticisms levelled at them over their previous release, Dear Youth, which sounded muddled and flat in comparison.

This self-titled LP is positively diamond of The Ghost Inside’s discography. The album showcases every emotion, from hope, to perseverance, to suffering, and more. This collection of eleven songs marks a glorious return to form and long-time fans will appreciate every call back and reference to their previous works. This album stands as the ultimate example of a band defying the odds, each lyric and musical note adding to the emotional weight that permeates throughout the album. Taking the existing circumstances out of account, The Ghost Inside have produced their magnum opus, creating some of the best writing of their sixteen-year career.

Throughout the trials and tribulations of the past five years, fans of the band have always been at the forefront. This has been repaid in kind with the album artwork constituting fan photos displaying the iconic trademark symbol of the band. Even those from a neutral standpoint to the band will surely feel and understand the emotional gravity attached to this release.

Words by John Canham.

5th June 2020.

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