Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Ghost Key - Winter

I have a very special surprise for you today, boys and girls. Hailing from Peoria, Illinois, Ghost Key plays evocative, passionate, melodic hardcore in the vein of Frameworks and Oddczar. It's only been 2 months since they released this kickass EP in January of this year. Dealing with emotional and mental health, the futility and danger of religion, and the loneliness and agony of depression, this EP is a powerful one, with not one second of catharsis.

It's so cold in here, it's so quiet:

"Past.Present" - "My mind is a prison, and this is my hell." This opening line from Ghost Key is spat with rage from the dried lips of depression and hopelessness, with force and self-immolation like a burning monk. Self-agonizing lyrics are strewn over gunshot tight snare hits, drowsy guitar leads, and heavy-set bass that anchors the song in the harbor of beauty and angst. "You always said that I was weak, and I never proved that I was strong," reflecting the struggles of depression--finding motivation in nothing--and ending on the beautiful, haunting, "There's a noose hanging from the ceiling; it's the only place I've ever belonged."

"Fulfillment" - Reminiscent more of La Dispute leads (minus La Dispute crying), this song showcases delay-heavy guitar riffs, a grooving, three-note bass lead, and free-range drums that measure out the evocative lyrics, screamed from callused tongues, "Don't tell me a story about the boy who got better. Tell me a story about the one who never suffered." Although the lyrics on this track are somewhat confusing and esoteric, suffering from depression myself, I can account for how scatter-brained the lyrics may seem, simply for the sake of purity and emotion. One of the best emotional hardcore songs I've heard recently. Super impressed.

"Stones" - Starting out in sporadic bashing of cymbals and syncopated vocals, this track leads into a fuzz-drowned verse, with excellent drum tracking to offset the muddled guitar. This song, with its off-key leads, simple 4/4 drums, and thumping bass, threw me off. But, trust me, it wasn't Ghost Key's fault. After a second listen-through of this track, I got it; and by "got it," I mean that I started weeping openly in the cafe I'm sitting in. The off-key leads, the "simple" drums, and the bass that I thought at first were "boring" and "frantically off-time," were actually meant to be there. Those elements are there intentionally to showcase the vocals and heart-wrenching lyrics of the song; they are there to show the self-destructive nature of the author, through the self-destruction of the song. "If I ever learned anything, never put your faith in God, because look what he's done to you." Wow. Weep, you fuckers.

"Rewritten" - A more energetic and structured intro than the other tracks on the album, this conclusion to the EP quickly fades back to the post-rock instrumentals/raspy vocals that you've grown to love by this point on the record. Dealing with the loss of a loved, but unloving, friend. As the song wears on, the instrumentals grow more faint, more frail, weaker; and the vocals gain more ground, ripping apart the final notes of this beautiful song with, "I'm sorry it was you."

Ghost Key, unlike many other emotional hardcore bands, have created an EP without any classic pitfalls or cliches that are so commonly associated with the genre. They have honed their skills, respected their art, and it has paid off tremendously on their debut. Go see them in Chicago, go buy their merch, and download this album, or it's your loss.