The Ghost Inside - Returners
Record Label: Mediaskare
Release Date: June 8th, 2010
The Ghost Inside are one of those bands that oddly slips underneath the radar, even though they've landed themselves on some of the bigger tours in the last two years in support of their highly praised debut, Fury and The Fallen Ones: A full U.S. tour supporting Bring Me The Horizon and Misery Signals, the first (and later second) Atticus Metal Tour supporting Terror, Winds of Plague and Emmure, a spot on the "10 For 10" hardcore summer tour, etc. Later in 2009, the band announced they would be taking a break from a constant touring schedule to write and record Returners, the sophomore album to later come out on Mediaskare in 2010. I had been extremely excited for this record to come out since Winter 2009, and obviously I wasn't the only one; The Ghost Inside's social media accounts were constantly filled with comments/messages asking when the new album would be released, and the band finally released a date, early March, only to have it pushed back to early June, which brings us here to the release of Returners.
The album title is explained in an early blog post by vocalist Jonathan Vigil: "Well, I came up with Returners because being on the road so much, you constantly go back to places that you’ve come to know quite well, (that you “return” to) and you notice that some things are completely different than the last time you were there. A big part of this for me was when I would return home. Relationships change, friends move, relatives die, and your favorite places cease to exist. It just reemphasizes the fact that no matter how naive I want to be about it, we live in an ever changing world and as much as I wish things could stay ideal forever, its human evolution. So I sit back and wait to return to the places I’ve come to know and face the differences I’m left with."
Returners opens with a fast instrumental track, "Walk Away From The World", then before you realize it, symbols build up on "Greater Distance" and guitars start driving and Vigil shouts "All the wrath and all the faith I have inside is eating me alive", and at that moment is when this album hits you like a right hook to the face, a quarterback viciously being sacked, a gunshot to start a race, stubbornly refusing to let up the remainder of the album. The most satisfying trait to Returners is that it doesn't rely on breakdowns; in fact, there are just a lot of "heavy parts" to the album, found in nearly every song, but most notably "Overlooked", "The Conflict", and "Downbeat".
Part of what made The Ghost Inside so popular to certain people with Fury and the Fallen Ones was Vigil's ability to write lyrics that connected with people in a personal way, and Returners is definitely no exception. "Greater Distance" deals with not being afraid of going after something you want to do, "Unspoken" is an anthem to those who root themselves in the hardcore/metal scene and aren't in it for the ride, and "Between The Lines" is a rebuke against those who want to claim to be part of something and reap the benefits, but then are nowhere to be found once it's time to do their part. Featuring lengthy guest vocals from Tommy Green of Christian hardcore band Sleeping Giant, "The Conflict" is about keeping open minded, specifically about Christianity; "Everyone has a mind, and a voice, whether you agree with them or not, let them be free to use it". One of my favorite tracks, "Chrono", is all about the struggle between getting older and things changing, but in the end refusing to let life pass you by and enjoy every moment while you can.
What makes The Ghost Inside a growing champion in the hardcore scene? Everyone in the band is exceptional at what they do, they give 110%. Every single song on Returners stands out in it's own way. Even if you hate them, you can't deny that every member in the band is a solid musician. Jonathan Vigil's lyrics and delivery provides a mood of urgency to listeners, K.C. Stockbridge provides memorable drum fills, guitarists Aaron Brooks and Zach Johnson wrote exactly the right riffs and leads necessary to compliment the lyrics. In live settings, a recent addition to the band, bassist Jim Riley (former tour manager for Vanna), fits in as if former bassist Garrett Harer never quit. Mark my words, The Ghost Inside will explode in the second half of 2010 and into 2011, as they prepare for an East Coast/Canada run with Reign Supreme and Betrayal, and a New Zealand/Australia tour with Parkway Drive, The Devil Wears Prada, and 50 Lions.