Arguably one of the biggest metalcore/melodic hardcore bands of the current scene, The Ghost Inside has been a band I've followed closely ever since its tour with Parkway Drive and Set Your Goals in early 2011. The first two albums, Fury and the Fallen Ones and Returners, garnered a lot of praise from critics and fans (myself included). After signing to Epitaph in early 2012, the band released Get What You Give – the consensus on which was a bit less clear than for previous releases, but I was a big fan of the slightly more commercial sound. Now, two years later and after two more appearances at the Vans Warped Tour, The Ghost Inside is set to release its fourth full length, Dear Youth.
Vocally and instrumentally, Dear Youth is the most diverse The Ghost Inside release to date. The first four tracks ("Avalanche," "Move Me," "Out of Control" and "With the Wolves") showcase the band's knack for crafting melodic riffs, mammoth breakdowns and undeniably catchy choruses, as well as having a bit more of an emphasis on clean vocals. The increased use of cleans could have been predicted after there was singing on a few tracks on Get What You Give ("Engine 45" and "Dark Horse"), but I don't think anyone expected nearly every song on Dear Youth to rely on cleans to some extent. The biggest surprise, though, is "Phoenix Flame." Featuring a plethora of cleans and strings, "Phoenix Flame" stands out as the most unique song on Dear Youth – and of the band's entire catalog – as it can almost be described as a ballad.
The Ghost Inside has certainly not toned down the aggression, though, as the breakdowns on Dear Youth are more crushing than ever. "Out of Control," "Mercy" and "My Endnote" feature a few of the more straight-up heavy breakdowns, complete with one-liners that fans will surely scream at the top of their lungs before wrecking havoc in a live setting; furthermore, "My Endnote" is like the "Deceiver" of Dear Youth as it's fueled by anger – and it even features a bit of a callback lyric. The breakdowns on some tracks like "With the Wolves" and "Dear Youth (Day 52)" still pack quite the punch, but they also contain appealing guitar work reminiscent of the material heard on August Burns Red's Constellations.
Following the title track is "Wide Eyed," an engaging track that has a little bit of everything. It opens with pounding and skillful drumming that doesn't let up, it's very melodic, it features a spectacular guest spot from Jason Butler (letlive.) and it ends with an earth-shattering breakdown. A few tracks later, we come to another standout song in the form of the closer. "Blank Pages" has a very climactic vibe to it because of the instrumental buildups, but the biggest factor is due to its chorus being the same as the intro of Dear Youth's opener, "Avalanche." The re-run of the intro rounds things up nicely, concluding the album on a positive note.
This is still The Ghost Inside and not much has changed other than the obvious progression of the band; these guys are still playing a similar metalcore/melodic hardcore style of music that they were playing when they formed A Dying Dream a decade ago. That being said, they've added some extra goodies (the clean vocals have really worked wonders for this five piece) to their already excellent style of songwriting to keep things fresh and fans on the edge of their seats. Even longtime fans that think they know the band like the back of their hand will be surprised with Dear Youth – and they'll be impressed with it too.