New Hopes, New Demonstrations
The Ghost Of A Thousand
No disrespect to Gallows and their attempt to take hardcore into moodier, more theatrical territories, but sometimes all you want is basic, balls-to-the-wall speed and fist-in-the-face aggression, which The Ghost Of A Thousand have no problem delivering.
Following closely on Gallows’ heels, and with a spooky symmetry to their career paths (a few demos, a well-received debut album on a UK indie, then being snapped up by Epitaph), TGOAT have also branched out somewhat since their debut, but for the majority, they’ve stuck to what they know, and to great effect.
The intro to ‘Moved As Mountains…’ , loaded with screeching guitars and a lolloping bass line explodes into a frantic metallic riff that barely lets up for the rest of the song, right through to the closing refrain of “Never die alone!” (Can you still call it a refrain if it’s being screamed at full volume?). Then, while it veers into more rock’n’roll territory for ‘Bright Lights’, there are still plenty of breaks, drops and screams, which you are know are coming, but seem to be perfectly timed instead of predictable. It’s kind of like the opening few numbers from The Bronx’ II album, but with a bit of Dennis Lyxzén venom in the vocals.
The assault continues on ‘Knees, Toes, Teeth’, opening with a vicious “Fucking new Romantics! It’s only rock and roll!”. It slows temporarily (thankfully), with Tom Lacey going for a more John Reis-esque croon as he intones “We all kneel down at the feet of the sound”, leading into a burst of rock’n’roll guitar and a blazing solo (courtesy of Andy Blyth, if my memory of their live performance is correct). You get a proper Hot Snakes vibe around a minute into ‘Canyons Of Static’, but surrounded by yet more throat-shredding vocal outpourings from Lacey, before it finishes in a tumbling, crashing mess.
‘Split The Atom’, the first single from the album (of many, no doubt), is a lot more relaxed, with pretty much no screaming, and lot more of a fuzzy, new wave feel to the tune. A quick saxophone squeal towards the end further hints at the Refused influence, compounded by the choice of Pelle Gunnerfeldt as producer, and the opening riff to ‘Neptune’ seemingly being played on the guitars used by the Swedes to record ‘The Deadly Rhythm’. It continues at a galloping pace, with constant drum fills from Memby Jago, before the gentle keys and guitar feedback of ‘Small Mercies’ gives us a pretty definitive end to the first section. No complaints so far.
When it kicks back in, we seem to have taken a major left turn, as the programmed beats, processed guitars and a throaty attempt at a vocal melody suggest ‘Nobody Likes A Hero’ was inspired by Linkin Park’s previous boast they would “go punk”. Fortunately, it’s a minor detour, with another explosion of guitars and acid-bathed vocals, quickly bringing us back to more rough and ready sounds.
‘Running On Empty’ returns to the earlier Bronx’n’roll; the chorus of “No future? I’ll risk it!” adding another to the tally of immediately chantable hooks that will be yelled back at the band on their next tour, while a more sombre, melodic middle section (“We pushed the bodies in the lake”. Delightful) hints that everything is winding down. Indeed, ‘Fed To The Ocean’ actually shows comparative restraint during the verses. Don’t worry; normal service is resumed during the choruses, when the riffs once again kick in.
‘Good Old Fashioned Loss’ finishes it all off with a few more left-field shockers, starting at a slower, doomier tempo, grinding away instead of pummelling, it leads into some bluesy Hammond organ (yes, I know it’s probably on a keyboard synth, but go with it). And instead of just stopping there, it then explodes into three minutes of Isis/Explosions In The Sky overdriven riffs and feedback before all is said and done.
You’ll notice I mentioned every song. It’s because I had to, they’re all worthy of note. I’m still listening to this album daily, more than a month after getting it. You will too.