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.

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Tiny Moving Parts - breathe (2019)

Do you ever stumble across a band (whether it be online or in person at a show) and instantly become enamoured with their work? That was me after I saw Minnesota's Tiny Moving Parts at Bled Fest in 2014. I listened to a few songs by the band prior to attending the festival and I liked what I heard, but I only ended up seeing the set because I tagged along with a friend. I was completely oblivious to the fact that all of the sounds I would be hearing were to come from three people. The band possessed such a full sound and put on a tremendous live show, compelling me to check out more of their music. Ever since, I've made sure to follow Tiny Moving Parts' every step.

The emo/math rock trio broke onto the scene after the release of 2013's This Couch Is Long & Full of Friendship and hasn't looked back, constantly touring and releasing a new album every 18 or so months. Impressive guitar work, upbeat drumming and intense vocals with somewhat cheesy but endearing lyrics has generally been the script that Tiny Moving Parts follows, but new twists and turns are always being slipped into the fold; on 2016's Celebrate, the band experimented with a bit of a pop punk style heard mostly in choruses while 2018's Swell brought forth a slight shift to more of a mainstream sound with frequent clean-sung verses and choruses. This time around on the Hopeless Records-released breathe, the best parts from every other album can be experienced in an even more welcoming environment. Dylan (vocals/guitar) sings every line with utmost passion, but the aggression and angst isn't as prevalent as on previous releases. Similarly, the drumming on breathe isn't quite as in-your-face; it still drives the music, but it's a more laid-back approach with occasional moments of being at the forefront or stealing the show (see: "Icicles (Morning Glow)"). The highlight of breathe is undoubtedly the intricate guitar work, as all 10 songs are littered with face-melting riffs and arpeggios that are sure to send chills up and down your spine.

Though Tiny Moving Parts is just a three-piece act, the band finds numerous ways to set itself apart from others in the emo/indie scene by presenting its listeners an emotive and adventurous collection of songs during breathe's 29-minute playtime. Songs like "Polar Bear" and "Bloody Nose" are sure to be favourites of long-time fans, while lead single "Medicine" and the undeniably catchy "Vertebrae" may be good starting points for newcomers. Whether you're a returning fan or someone outside of the emo scene looking for a different experience, be sure to check out breathe. This is Tiny Moving Parts at its best and most accessible.

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Gallery: The Frozen Flame Tour (01/23/15)

The Frozen Flame Tour came through New York City on January 23 for the second show of a month and a half run throughout the country. Irving Plaza, a large yet somehow intimate venue, was the host of this show.

Erra opened the night not long after doors as the floor was slowly filling up. The band brought a refreshing yet aggressive blend of metalcore to the show with impressive clean vocals and bone crushing lows. Although Erra had recently lost its vocalist and a guitarist, these guys performed their set without a hitch, and I'm sure they left a good impression on the many first-time listeners in the room.

Fit for a King came to the stage next. Fresh off the October release of Slave to Nothing, this tour is set to be one of the band's biggest yet if this show was any indicator. Vocalist Ryan Kirby seemed to have control of the crowd like a puppet throughout the set, while the rest of the four piece refused to stay still on stage, bringing a constant energy that the crowd seemed to mimic. Fit for a King obviously drew out many fans to this tour, but I am sure the band will make just as many – if not more – before it's over.

Northlane was the set I was most concerned about going into this show. The band recently had a major vocalist change that was a long and drawn-out process, and I wasn't sure if the new vocalist would translate well or if the hype would still be there. That being said, it seems as if Northlane has not lost any momentum at all. Marcus Bridge, the new vocalist, has an amazing range one could argue surpasses the previous vocalist in a live setting. Instrumentally, the band has always been on point and continues to be. The energy was ambient at points and super heavy at others, which made for a roller coaster of a set for the fans. With an even better live sound and a fan base that is still packing venues, I expect Northlane to make some big moves in 2015.

Miss May I was a band I had personally forgot about for a while. After seeing these guys on the bill, I was surprised they were as high up as they were. Apparently, while I was sleeping on this band, a lot of kids got into Miss May I – and I mean a lot. The crowd erupted as the band opened with "Hey Mister" and metal horns were flying all over the venue. Miss May I played a solid amount of old songs I was able to recognize, such as my favourite, "Tides." The band's live sound was just as big as any big venue headliner and vocalist Levi Benton (who ultimately had the best hair in the room) had some of the best stage command of the night.

August Burns Red finished off the night by playing an hour-long-plus set featuring old and new songs. Reaching the end of the most recent album cycle, August Burns Red still had enough hype to sell out this show and I'm sure many more on the tour. The members makes their extremely technical songs seem easy when they play, and you can tell everyone in the band has a lot of fun on stage. Jake Luhrs is one of the most intense vocalists and frontmen in the scene and Matt Greiner arguably IS the best drummer. One thing I loved about the set was the focus on percussion throughout, especially in the beginning and at the end where the band organized a very special feature. I can't spoil it for you, so I suggest going out to these shows to see it for yourself.

Check out some photos from the fun night below.


Fit For A King


Miss May I

August Burns Red

Links: Erra - Fit for a King - Northlane - Miss May I - August Burns Red - Dieter Unrath Photography
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Discovering the Waterfront 10-Year Tour (01/15/15)

Yesterday marked the beginning of Silverstein's 10-year anniversary tour for its second record, Discovering the Waterfront. The London Music Hall (in London, ON) had the privilege of being the first venue of many to host one of the biggest tours of early 2015, and it was the perfect setting and way to kick off a tour like this.

The first band on the bill was California's My Iron Lung. Playing a style of post-hardcore/screamo similar to Touché Amoré, My Iron Lung brought a lot of emotion and passion to the stage. The band played a handful of songs from 2014's Relief as well as two songs from 2012's Grief before closing with "Here's to the Collaborative Effort Made by All Things Under the Sun," which was the most impressive song of the set.

New Jersey's Major League, hot off the release of its second full-length record, was next. Opening and closing the set with the first and last track from There's Nothing Wrong With Me, Major League's set was heavily loaded with newer material that was recorded after the departure of the original vocalist last year. Brian Joyce, who was always in the band as a guitarist, fills the role as lead vocalist quite nicely and gives the band a more mature sound. That being said, the band did play "Homewrecker" from 2012's Hard Feelings and seemed particularly energized while playing that song and the closing "Rittenhouse."

The next band to take the stage was Ohio's Beartooth. Similar to Major League, Beartooth played a plethora of newer songs – and almost ran through the entirety of its debut record, Disgusting. The crowd really started to get into it as bodies were moving (or flying) everywhere, presumably because Beartooth was the heaviest band of the tour package. Excited fans were constantly overstaying their welcome on stage after crowd surfing or before stage diving, but it didn't phase the band; if anything, those interactions were encouraged, as most of those fans received a high-five or the mic for a few seconds.

After taking no more than 10 minutes to set up, Hands Like Houses played next. Playing a unique style of experimental post-hardcore, these five blokes from Down Under rocked the house. Vocalist Trenton Woodley certainly has some pipes; I had chills during several songs because of the notes he was consistently hitting that I didn't think were possible in a live setting. The highlights of the set were "Don't Look Now, I'm Being Followed, Act Normal" and "Introduced Species" – but I think the best part of the set was the fact that the entire band brought a lot of energy and smiles with them across the globe.

Even though Silverstein was headlining and was the whole reason this tour was possible, these locals had some big shoes to fill; every supporting band put on an impressive set and they each seemed to get even better as the night rolled on. Silverstein was up to the task, though. The band played a song or two from nearly every album in its catalogue as well as the newly released single, "A Midwestern State of Emergency," before getting into the whole reason why everyone was here: to see Silverstein play Discovering the Waterfront from start to finish. Experiencing that album live in its entirety was something special and the entire venue was jumping and singing several times throughout the set, but even more so during the last 11 songs.

When Silverstein's set ended, I left with a huge smile on my face – and I'm sure everyone else did, too. Every band that played brought something new to the table, which was a nice change from the typical "four bands playing metalcore" tour package. This was only the first date of many, so you still have a lot of time to plan a trip to see this tour.
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Transit - Joyride (2014)

As I pulled into the city to the Glamour Kills Holiday Festival last weekend, I turned to my friend and said “I basically paid $29.50 only for The Wonder Years,” but I was only half-joking; at 8 PM I decided to go watch Transit. I hadn’t even finished making my way into the crowd when I heard Transit start playing the title track off of 2011’s Listen & Forgive. I completely lost it and rushed my way in because I was immediately reminded exactly why I fell in love with the band. Like a lot of people, I dismissed the release of Young New England last year before the bad reviews could even come pouring in, but when Transit played the new Joyride songs so fittingly live last week, I thought I should actually buy this one – so I did.

“The Only One” opens with strong drumming and has that familiar touch of Transit groove. It is very poppy and repetitive, but it is so easy to love. “Saturday Sunday” comes right after and it’s more repetitive than the former. I would even call it a filler if I had not so shamelessly sang along to it live. Before I even got into the next songs, I already had a general sense of how the rest of the songs were going to be like. Poppy, light and with a hint of cheese. “Rest to Get Better” and “Sweet Resistance” proved that prediction; however, with those two, Joyride finally starts to gain some weight. Both songs are just as feel good as “Saturday Sunday,” but they actually seem to be about something.

That problem is high-lighted in “Nothing Left to Lose,” a track that I know you could play at a friend’s backyard party and no one would ask you why you are not playing J. Cole’s new album instead. Yes, the music is feel good and more along the lines of Listen and Forgive, but what else is there to it? Why does this album matter?

Inferring from the title, this album was never meant to be received as anything more than fun and light. With that, Transit has delivered. Despite that and the fact that Transit has never been particularly strong lyricists, the band previously evoked so much out of just that one “I just wish you would have called” line in “Long Lost Friends” off Listen & Forgive. Hell, even the Young New England title track’s hook (“Boston never drinks alone”) has more heart than a lot of songs on Joyride.

“Ignition and Friction” seems to correct this problem underlined by the previous songs. It still has a really catchy hook, but seems to have a little more old Transit heart in it; however, then we go into the next two, “Fine by Me” – which is barely saved by its catchy chorus – and “Loneliness Burns,” which is so generic and cringe worthy that not even the piano intro could save it. The persistent problem with tracks like the latter then is not that Transit has gone more pop, as you can still make good pop-rock songs and be respected. The problem is that some of these songs, though enjoyable, come off as more contrived than natural. For example, “Summer Dust” and “Pins and Needles” – the growers that follow after – are still each tirelessly just another Joyride song saved by a catchy chorus.

“Too Little, Too Late” is sandwiched between the previous songs and, despite being a bit cheesy, it finally took more than mild emotion out of me. Yet it is the closing track, “Follow Me,” that finally evokes something strong. Just when I was getting tired of listening to Transit save mediocre songs with catchy choruses, I came to realize that the best was saved for last. The intro is sweet, but it is everything that comes after the 1:36 mark that really impresses. The song is still definitely very fitting of Joyride, but it feels far more emotionally provoking than any other on the album. The music and lyrics finally sync up to tell a story and it matters. It was also the track that saved this album for me.

Last Sunday, half the crowd left to go watch Man Overboard as the remaining Transit fans squeezed up to the front. Transit closed with “Skipping Stone” and more heart was given in that last old song than the remainder of the set. Joe Boynton was so high off the crowd afterwards that he stayed on stage to try to give everyone that extended their hand forward a high five. You want that Transit you saw close the stage last week and you want to give that heart back to them at the next show.

Music does not have to be a strong visceral release all the time. Sometimes all music needs to be is catchy and empty, especially when all you’re trying to do is get drunk in someone’s backyard. Joyride definitely succeeds in giving that light summer anthem feeling, but what are we as fans if the only thing we push the bands we love for is to keep writing catchier hooks?

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