As we sit in the year 2020 with all of its ups and downs, I can’t help but think that there’s really nothing more uniting than the story of the underdog. Everybody in the world loves a come back story. Nothing is more encouraging than seeing the little guy dust themselves off and get back into the fight. It should give us all hope that all hope is not lost even when it seems as though hope is the last thing from everyone’s mind. Given what’s going on in the world right now, I think such an idea is exactly what everyone needs right now (sorry for the lack of evergreen on this one).
Putting society aside for a few minutes, The Ghost Inside is probably the best example of that idea. Almost exactly a year after the release of their most critically acclaimed album, 2014’s Dear Youth, the band was involved in a horrific bus accident in Arizona. Vocalist Jonathan Vigil, guitarist Zach Johnson, and drummer Andrew Tkaczyk were hospitalized with critical conditions. Tkaczyk sustained the worst injuries that put him into a coma and claimed one of his legs. That certainly puts a damper on any ideas of a future for the band.
However, fans of the band know how positive and encouraging the group can be generally, so any idea of just giving up seems against everything the band stands for. It took time and patience to work through the obvious myriad of issues band members faced, not the least of which being Tkaczyk’s road to recovery. But the band took a page from their own book, stood tall, and worked through it all to deliver their self-titled return this year.
After multiple listens to The Ghost Inside, I can safely say that the band picked up right where they left off as though nothing has happened. If you’re a huge Ghost Inside fan, you’ll find everything to love about the new record. It’s probably exactly what you were hoping for upon hearing that the band was planning to stay together and come back.
While that is all true, there’s also a palpable heavy emotion on this record. That not necessarily anything new from the band, of course. The band, and metalcore generally speaking, is frequently entwined with melodic sections showing off their emo-oriented roots. Even given that connection, the emotional ride the Ghost Inside takes you on in this record is quite powerful. As the album ticks off the seconds, you can feel the weight the band feels in returning. Every song relates the unceasing sense of duty the band feels. Each song may take a different view of the last 5 years in their lives, but no matter the perspective, the conclusion is the same: this will not be the end of us.
Even with tracks you wouldn’t define as emotional, they’re still delving deep into themselves to translate those thoughts in different ways. The latest single, “Pressure Point,” sounds like it’s about to beat some anger into your ear canal. It certainly starts that way with the chugging metallic riffs and syncopated blasts from the rest of the band. Even the lyrics sound like a narrator releasing a furious tirade. However, this band always makes the turn when the song’s narrator shouts, “I refuse to be defined by suffering.” Despite the seemingly belligerent characteristics of the track, the band expresses it more as the cathartic release they needed to get through everything together.
Several playthroughs later, and there’s a single moment on the record that defines it. In the final track, “Aftermath,” Vigil shouts, “I don’t have it in me to sing of defeat/triumph over tragedy.” That’s what this record is. Nothing wraps it all together better, nor could anything else summarize the band’s last half decade. It’s the metalcore journey to get in touch with your feelings the band is known for serving up, and it hits harder because of the truth of it all. It’s the comeback of a lifetime, so hop in and listen to the underdog.
The Ghost Inside is available June 5 via Epitaph Records.