Reviews || The Ghost Inside - "The Ghost Inside"

The Ghost Inside has undoubtedly made the biggest musical headline of the year when, after performing a comeback show in Los Angeles last summer and a special set at Unify in January, they announced they would resume touring after five years, performing selected shows in the summer of 2020. Furthermore, the band later conirmed the impending release of their new, self-titled studio album. Fans all over the world were ecstatic over the idea of seeing TGI rocking again to new tunes and here at Unraveled, we all shared the exact same feelings. Even though COVID-19 took away the joy of any concert experience for the foreseeable future, we at least still have a brand new album to cherish. TGI's fifth full length comes on June 5 2020 via Epitaph records and it's the first piece of new music since the band's horrific accident in late 2015.

Upon the first spin, we realize the album is as emotionally charged as one would have expected. TGI is making heavy, heart-felt statements through hard-hitting lyrics. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"/"From the ashes brought back to life/this is new sound of sacrifice" on "Still Alive", "I looked death in the eyes/I've come too far" on Pressure Point or "I won't bend I won't break through the darkest of days/ I remember; I survive, I don't surrender" on "One Choice". While Jonathan Vigil is known to use powerful and empowering words, the listener will fathom this specific phrasing differently when they're aware of the hardships the band has braved to get where they are today. And the 11 anthems the self-titled record contains are a testament to that. But let's break it down.

You know what they say about making a memorable first impression, right? That's exactly what TGI does with opener "1333", followed by the album's (and the band's) mission statement, "Still Alive". The song has some strong "Dear Youth" vibes which I love, with the balance between ferocity and musicality ringing very familiar bells. Although in a quite similar vein, the following track "Outcast" leans more on the darker side, sporting a lovely singalong in the chorus and a hammering breakdown. The second single "Pressure Point" is probably one of my favorite tracks so far because of the raw sentiment it expresses -and the lyrics, as previously mentioned, hit differently when these words come from a place of undeniable truth, while "Overexposure" is an ode to the individual strength to escape a toxic environment and redefine oneself.

Moving on to the second half of the album, we are met with "Make Or Break". What I love the most is how oldschool it feels, with a consistent groove that would make all listeners bob their heads, a big chorus and a signature breakdown, blasting upon the declaration "if they don't move, you move them". "Unseen" starts in a very atmospheric way before the first riff hits. The guitars paint the song on a darker canvas, with a crushing nature that almost hurts, as Jonathan Vigil screams his heart out, as one particular lyric stands out; "Am I lucky to be alive?". It has now become clearer that the second half of the album resonates a lot more with me and frankly I quite enjoy it. "One Choice" is yet another hymn to willpower and getting back on your feet after falling. Shortly afterwards, "Phoenix Rise" hits a very soft spot with all the unexpected twists and turns, all while bearing a strong TGI identity whose major elements are all here, combined with a strong PMA character. As we reach the end, "Begin Again" strays a bit from the beaten path and introduces a punkier vibe to the sound which also fits the lyric theme. If I'm being honest, I could get used to such elements. Finally, the welcome-back, lead single "Aftermath" closes the album. The song has been triggering an emotional reaction since I first watched the accompanying video and never fails to give me goosebumps, as it encapsulates the essence of the album.

I must admit it was impossible to be impartial and objective while reviewing this album, or anything TGI-related for that matter. The Ghost Inside is a band that holds a very special place in my heart. I think there is a broad rollercoaster theme here (bear with me on this one). The first few songs of the album symbolize the fall, the darkness and inevitable uncertainty the band had to endure, interpreted through the familiar constant interchange of aggression and melody. Halfway through, however, the music changes, gets more melodic, more emptional, hell, even more personal. They are fighting their own demons to cope and survive and then, on the final third of the album, we see TGI clearly reborn, having conquered their inner darkness and shining bright to give hope to anyone who may be struggling. In that spirit, we can also see an analogy for the transition from the angry oldschool TGI sound ("Returners") to the more well-rounded approach ("Get What You Give"), to the melody ("Dear Youth"), to this new fresh element. This anthology validates that change is the ony constant. They don't recycle their art but rather upcycle certain aspects, both lyrically, by returning to specific words largely associated with their message, and musically, by creating new facets of their trademark sound. It also explains why the album was self-titled. It tells their story of the last five years from start to finish, it's perfectly reasonable to skip plain song titles and/or big words to describe the situation. It's honestly the boldest point they could probably make; The Ghost Inside is back to stay. And the album? Hands down the best of the year.
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