The Ghost Inside – The Ghost Inside (2020)


If you’re a fan of hardcore and/or metalcore and you’ve been keeping up with what is happening in the scene(s), you probably know a little bit about The Ghost Inside (TGI) and their story. You may have been listening to their music since the band’s early days in the late 2000s or you may have only heard about the tragic news of their accident in 2015 that took the life of two drivers and put band members in critical condition. Since that fateful day nearly five years ago, TGI has been working to get back on stage and release new music. Aptly titled The Ghost Inside, the band’s fifth studio album is something that many people expected would never come to be, but it’s finally here and it’s clear that the band put their blood, sweat and tears into coming back with a vengeance.

The first four tracks on The Ghost Inside rewind us to the simpler times in life when we didn’t have a global pandemic to worry about. Longtime fans will instantly be thrown into a whirlwind of nostalgia on the album opening “1333,” as TGI—from the ashes brought back to life—revives their old Fury and the Fallen Ones and Returners styles. Pounding drums and chugging guitars with an infusion of melody drive songs like “Still Alive,” “The Outcast” and “Pressure Point” while vocalist Jonathan Vigil belts out his recognizable (and intelligible) mid-range screams throughout. The use of gang vocals is executed perfectly during the chorus of “Still Alive,” driving home the point that TGI is indeed still alive and not giving up.

As the album progresses towards the midway point, the band begins to incorporate more cleanly sang sections and a slightly more melodic style. “Overexposure” and “Make or Break” duel for the title of the biggest chorus on the album due to the extraordinarily catchy clean vocals layered over powerful screams, loads of melody in the background and solid basslines. That being said, just as you start to get comfortable with this less aggressive style, you’re hit with a massive breakdown near the end of each song. TGI makes use of some chilling and eerie ambience in “Overexposure” while they just go straight for the jugular in “Make or Break,” nearly rivaling “Pressure Point” for beefiest breakdown on The Ghost Inside.

The two most surprising songs come in the form of “Unseen” and “One Choice.” The first half of “Unseen” serves as an interlude with a heightened emphasis on ambience that makes you feel at peace. The ambience then transitions into slow, brooding guitars before exploding with a bang. As Vigil screams “One foot in the grave with one hand in the sky / Heaven comes with a price,” you can feel the anguish in his voice—and that pain is felt for the duration of the song. TGI has generally written very positive lyrics on past releases, but lines like “some scars are more than skin deep” and “am I lucky to be alive?” give us an even deeper look into the band’s ongoing struggles following the accident, as it’s clear they’re still trying to overcome some demons. The next track, “One Choice,” is definitely the most polarizing song TGI has ever released. While Vigil does scream a fair bit and the instruments have that hardcore vibe, everything seems like a more accessible portrayal of hardcore on this track. Some fans may be taken aback when the chorus rolls around, but it’s one that will progressively get catchier after each listen and demonstrates that TGI is more than capable of creating additional hard rock/alternative anthems in the future. Nearing the end of the album, you might assume that TGI has already hit you with everything they’ve got. That’s not the case, though. “Begin Again” is a blistering track with some of the finest drumwork on the album and “Phoenix Rise” is similar to old TGI material in that the lyrical content is very uplifting, touching on how they’ve won the war within and “like a Phoenix reborn,” they are rising. The outro verse of “Phoenix Rise” repeats itself over a few times for added effect before slowly fading out, and it’s sure to send chills up and down your spine; similar to the final minutes of “Aftermath,” the feeling of triumph reverberates through every note and lyric.

The Ghost Inside has it all for longtime fans as well as new listeners. Some songs are reminiscent of TGI’s previous works and some sound like a logical progression for the band, but there is also a few unexpected twists and turns along the way to keep you on your toes. The top-notch production and mixing (something I felt was leaving a bit to be desired on the more recent Get What You Give and Dear Youth) is the cherry on top that propels The Ghost Inside from an excellent comeback album to a monumental album of the year candidate.