Sometimes the context of an album is every bit as important as the actual music it contains. Any consideration of the The Ghost Inside’s self-titled fifth album has to be framed against the fact that the band have fought back against incredible odds to even bring it into existence. If you’re reading this you probably already know the story, but in case you don’t, the band were involved in a horrific bus crash in 2015. The drivers of both vehicles died and the survivors suffered multiple injuries. Frontman Jonathan Vigil had fractured vertebrae and broken ankles, guitarist Zach Johnson has undergone at least 13 surgical procedures and drummer Andrew Tkaczyk lost one of his legs following a ten-day coma.
The band have said that they won’t let that trauma define them. Bassist Jim Riley says of the new album, "This isn’t about what happened to us… this is about our journey, our growth, and who we are." Such a life-changing incident must loom heavy over any such journey however and it certainly colours pretty much every aspect of this record.
Sometimes it’s overt. The low, slow intro of 1333 sounds like the essence of sorrow, anger and hope being distilled into less than a minute of palm-muted heaviness as Vigil repeatedly intones, ‘TGI / From the ashes brought back to life…’ It then bursts into the largely self-explanatory Still Alive in a welter of thrash-fuelled riffs and gang-chant vocals as the frontman bellows, ‘Against all odds / What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Album closer Aftermath also deals directly with the crash and its impact on all involved. ‘I don’t have it in me to sing of defeat / Triumph over tragedy,’ Vigil declares and, as that line transitions into a huge crashing breakdown, you can only imagine the sheer catharsis it will have when live performances eventually return.