The Ghost Inside – ‘The Ghost Inside’

By Dave Stewart

Five years ago, The Ghost Inside went through hell. During their USA Locals Only Tour, giving local up-and-coming artists an incredible opportunity to share a stage with them, their tour bus fatally collided with a tractor-trailer. The devastating collision tore both vehicles to shreds, taking the lives of both drivers and severely injuring the entire band and their crew. The entire community was lost for words when the news hit the airwaves, shocking family, friends, peers and fans who collectively came together to support those involved through an un-imaginable struggle.

After battling back from a near death experience and persevering through physical challenges and emotional turmoil, The Ghost Inside returned to the stage in 2019 and performed a heart-warming outdoor show in their native LA, attended by a loving community that turned up in mass to welcome them back. Fast forward to 2020 and they’ve gone a step further and made a brand new self-titled album that the world is more than ready to hear. Spoiler alert – it’s incredible.

This isn’t the sound of a band testing the waters to see if they’re still able to swim. Despite everything that they’ve endured this is the sound of them picking up exactly where they left off, diving straight into the ocean and riding the oncoming waves with ease. This is pure courage and grit, a phoenix risen from the ashes and burning brighter than ever. If you’ve been looking for an album to be a guiding beacon in the darkness, an anthem to uplift and elevate you when you feel weak, this is it.

The first single ‘Aftermath’ is everything that we’ve been waiting for. The infectious bouncy choruses, the ass-kicking breakdowns, the tear-inducing finale led by a moving vocal from front man Jonathan Vigil – it’s a big and bold statement that not only are they back, but they aren’t pulling any punches. Just before the songs first breakdown you hear Vigil roar “triumph over tragedy”, and that phrase represents the entire record. Few know darkness quite like they do, but there is most certainly light at the end of the tunnel. This is the final track on the record and boy, the journey that leads to it is phenomenal.

The album opens with a small appetiser in the form of ‘1333’, beginning proceedings with the ever-tight drum work of Andrew Tkaczyk. Feedback creeps in, the volume begins to swell and the first taste of the weight on this record explodes in your mouth, with Jim Riley’s biting bass tone forcing the breakdown to scrunch up your face in approval. Barely missing a beat, it then launches into the fiery and angsty fist-pumper ’Still Alive’. Vigil’s chants of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” soar over the riot inducing riff work, every chug and tempo-change edging your blood towards boiling point.

The boundless hostility plays a big part in this record, with each and every vicious outburst coming at exactly the right moment. ‘Make Or Break’ is a bruiser from beginning to end, fuelled by Zach Johnson and Chris Davis’s punishing riffs that heighten the potency of the lyrical venom accompanying it. ’The Outcast’ is a pillar of strength both in the music and the lyrics, complete bone-crunching guitar work and Vigil’s impassioned cry of “I am unstoppable” connecting like a brick to the jaw. The award for the heaviest song on the record goes to ‘Pressure Point’, though. A savage and seething entity that gets progressively angrier and, just when you think it can’t get any heavier, it doesn’t just hit you – it buries you.

Just like their back catalogue, this isn’t all about the mosh-hungry numbers. There’s so many bright and uplifting moments on offer here too, all equally powerful and moving. ‘One Choice’ sees Vigil singing “I survive, I don’t surrender” as the huge anthemic riffs push the powerful message skyward. ’Unseen’ is simply beautiful and shows the other side of the coin, slowly drifting through beautifully serene passages before erupting into blatant pain as they explore the difficulty of emotionally navigating what they went through. ‘Phoenix Rise’ is a blend of both gloom and warmth, packed full of uplifting melodies and poignant moments that are juxtaposed by crushing heaviness. Tzaczyk’s drumming really takes centre stage on ‘Begin Again’, a circle pit-worthy rocket full of flawless changes of pace and technical intricacies with one of the catchiest choruses of their career.

This isn’t just a comeback record. It transcends that. Against all odds, with everything stacked against them, The Ghost Inside have created a masterpiece that isn’t just an incredible collection of music. It’s a symbol. If you’ve never heard of the band and this is the first record of theirs that you’ve come across, you wouldn’t have a clue that the accident even happened – they are living and breathing proof that no matter who you are or what you’re going through, you can accomplish anything.

Their unbreakable determination to not let their flame go out has the power to influence and inspire not only this generation, but many generations to come. Every word that leaves Vigil’s mouth is delivered with so much spirit it physically hurts to hear them, violently tugging at your heartstrings with every syllable. As well as that, Tkaczyk’s belief-defying performance is so inspiring that it’ll bring you to tears – a man who woke up to an entire new way of living, who strived not only to regain a grasp on his life but also to get back behind a kit and do what he loves most. This is passion like you’ve never heard it before.

Nothing can prepare you for what you’ll feel when you listen to this record. The dosage of emotion within every track is monumental, with the masterfully balanced mix from audio wizard Will Putney allowing it to flow through your veins and hit you all at once. There isn’t a word strong enough to describe how inspirational this is. A formidable, soul-stirring and triumphant return to the top of the game from one of the greatest bands to ever grace the genre. Welcome back boys. We’ve missed you.

DAVE STEWART

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