Great American Ghost – ‘Power Through Terror’

By Dave Stewart

Try to picture what it might sound like if Pantera, Slipknot, and Machine Head all had a bare knuckle fist fight with each other. The resulting inevitable chaos would be pretty close to how Great American Ghost sound. Comprising vocalist Ethan Harrison, guitarist Niko Gasparrini, bassist Joey Perron, and drummer Davier Perez, the four-piece have spent the best part of eight years taking no prisoners with their riotous material and adrenaline-fuelled live performances. 2020 sees them primed to ascend to all new heights, and they know exactly how reach them.

Already in possession of their debut album ‘Everyone Leaves’ and raging follow-up, ‘Hatred Stems From The Seed’, and having recently made their mark on the UK and Europe by spitting venom all over the Never Say Die Tour, they’re getting romantic by dropping brand new offering ‘Power Through Terror’ on Valentine’s Day. It’s not really that romantic at all – unless you love big meaty riffs, pulverising drums, furious snarling vocals and violence, of course. In which case, prepare to fall head over heels for your new favourite band.

It becomes quickly apparent what this record has in store right from the opening moments of ‘Rat King’. Unsettling high pitched tones swell into dense guitars and pained screams, flowing from sharp stinging verses and gigantic chugs into an anthemic declaration of “hope won’t save us now”. It’s crushing, angry, and negative, and this is the opening track. There’s still nine more tracks and this barely scratches the surface of the treats in store.

The following two tracks are the two leading singles from the record, ‘Prison Of Hate’ and ‘Altar Of Snakes’. The former is a balls-to-the-wall thrasher, racing through gigantic riffs and Harrison’s tortured vocals towards a tsunami of a closing breakdown. The latter begins as a slow bruiser, armed to the teeth with monstrous chugs and haunting melodies before Perez launches into furious blast beats as an unexpected change of pace. The final breakdown is quite something too, every palm-muted chord connecting with inhuman precision.

The rest of the record is rife with devastation at every single turn, with each route just as dangerous as the one that preceded it. There’s the death metal-influenced white-knuckle ride of ‘Rivers Of Blood’, the Dimebag Darrell grooves that Gasparrini channels into ‘Black Winter’, the intense rage contained within the unsettling ‘Scorched Earth’, the unapologetic headbanger and potential pit favourite ‘WarBorn’ – it’s just punch after punch, hitting you directly in all your most delicate places. A couple of these punches hit harder than the rest though, and they’re worth shining a light on.

The title track ‘Power Through Terror’ is one of those tracks that has the potential to summon a pit in even the most static rooms. The pinched harmonics cut through like a hot knife to butter, the chugs rumble deep enough to crack ribcages and when you think it can’t get angrier, it just continues to do so. The diamond here, though, is the closing number ‘No More’, ending proceedings in the most calamitous way possible. The most menacing and evil sounding song on the record, it combines elements of everything that came before and crams them into three minutes and twelve seconds of divine sonic punishment. The very last closing breakdown is the best of the entire album, led by the line “love was never fucking there” and followed by thick, meaty chunks of tone that leave you salivating and in awe of the record you just heard.

‘Power Through Terror’ is like a wrecking ball covered in nails. It’s heavier than heavy, capable of smashing anything and everything on its road to glory. The production is second to none, with metal and hardcore audio wizard Will Putney flexing his muscles once again to create one of his most biting and devastating mixes to date. That devastation suits this band well, giving the apocalyptic songwriting the necessary extra weight to literally bring about the end of times.

If you came here wanting a lovey-dovey, super sweet mixtape to give to your partner on date night, you’re in the wrong place. If you came here hoping to find a vessel to channel your demons into, however, you’ll find yourself pressing play over and over as you therapeutically feed your internalised struggles to it. Great American Ghost have created a monster that seethes with rage, grinding its teeth and clenching its fists from the opening notes right up to the very last cataclysmic chord. It’s a powerful statement, loudly announcing their return to the playing field and refusing to leave. This is a band that you’ll want to keep an eye on – they’re already making big moves and they’re just getting started. A phenomenal sophomore album from rising stars of the genre.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Sort of.

DAVE STEWART

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