California metalcore outfit The Ghost Inside are all about perseverance and overcoming. It’s not just empty lyrics- 5 years ago, a bus crash on tour that took the lives of both drivers didn’t just nearly derail the band, it almost killed them. Their return to the stage was dubbed “Rock’s Most Miraculous Comeback” by Kerrang!, and set their eventual return to the studio in motion in turn. Now, that moment has come. Their eponymous album The Ghost Inside, their sixth since their debut as A Dying Dream is finally out, and is lyrically based around much of what devoted fans and those simply following the band’s career through their accident would expect.
The intro “1333” serves as an appropriately heavy prelude, leading into “Still Alive”, an ever-so-fitting if not utterly obligatory anthem in the name of triumph over all obstacles. “The Outcast” cranks up the breakdowns, the song a testament to being the underdog and remaining true to one’s self, “Pressure Point” transmutes the abundance of self-love into endless hate for the snakes and frauds that get in the way. “Overexposure” amalgamates the earlier themes into a high-energy headbanger, while “Make Or Break”is a melodic call to leave the past behind and strive for greatness in the future.
“Unseen”, with its slow dramatic boil into full, unleashed power touches upon the band’s close call once more, another tribute to life’s struggles that asks plainly “Am I lucky to be alive?” The riffy “One Choice” showcases more clean vocals and a more rock-oriented sound, a refreshing switch-up from the album’s standard fare. “Phoenix Rise” snaps back into standard form with soaring leads and brutal shouts, free-falling into an ethereal break before building back up again to full steam. “Begin Again” runs on a more melodic premise as well, eventually it leaves its own mark by jumping into a slamming ABR-style breakdown. “Aftermath” is the closer, a mighty summation of the musical and lyrical elements on display throughout The Ghost Inside encapsulated straightforwardly in a single line: “I don’t have it in me to sing of defeat/triumph over tragedy.”
Where Kerrang! praised The Ghost Inside’s live return as an inspiring and utterly odds-defying event, we can safely say the same for their studio return as well. The Ghost Inside is an uplifting, motivating and nevertheless wonderfully heavy record; the pain, spirit and determination of the band is abundantly evident upon listening to this record but there’s not a hint of pretence or cheesiness about it. It’ll be a pleasure to hear more like this from the band, though hopefully they don’t have to go through anything like they did before again to make it happen.