Confession: I am not now nor have I ever been a huge fan of hardcore. Yes, I own a few hardcore records – Strife, Ignite, Earth Crisis, and Sick of It All, but I never Sharpie’d Xs on my hands and attempted to start my invisible lawn mower (try pulling out the choke a little!)
When I was asked to review this record my first (incorrect) impression was that it was going to be more of the screamo/metalcore bullshit that passes for “hardcore” these days. I was pleased to be proven completely wrong.
The Ghost Inside comes out of their corner swinging, with chunky syncopated down-tuned guitars and fancy kick drum work driving the opening track “This is What I Know About Sacrifice”. My impression of this record by the first chorus was (honestly) “fuck ya!”.
The first hint of any kind of vocal melody isn’t until on the chorus of the third track, but it isn’t so singy as to be what Brian Posehn would call “the gay part”. “Engine 45” is the most radio-friendly track on the album and a welcome respite from the otherwise full-speed-ahead hardcore record. But before the melody gets to be too much, the album segues into “Slipping Away”, a double-time ripper with a cool spacey guitar part over a sludgy bridge.
“The Great Unknown” finally gave me what I had been waiting for all along – the epic hardcore breakdown. I knew it had to be coming, and when it finally dropped I sincerely wished that there was change on the floor for me to pick up. Alas, there wasn’t, so I had to settle for bobbing my head and making a toughguy face instead.
The production leaves absolutely nothing to be wanted – it’s well-produced without sounding too slick like many of the “hardcore” bands on that label with the bulldog logo (not naming names here). None of the energy was smoothed out with autotune or gridding, and the little production touches like the click-click-boom shotgun sound in the opening track didn’t cause any eye rolls, as they could have with a less-tastefully made record. Even the use of 808s throughout (normally an inexcusable cheat on a hardcore record) add to the energy without sounding overly contrived.
There are no musical slouches in this band – the singer brings the pain, and the guitars and bass are locked in butthole-tight with the kick, but the outstanding performance is by Andrew Tkaczyk on the drum kit. The fills are all rock-solid and Keith Moon interesting. I don’t think he played the same one twice on this whole record, and it really makes the difference in making me want to listen again and again.
“Get What You Give” is easily as good as any of my (admittedly limited) collection of nineties hardcore records, and a welcome addition to the rotation. Good on The Ghost Inside for proving that modern hardcore isn’t about neon guitar strings and eyeliner, and thank you Epitaph for putting out an excellent record that’s not by Frank Turner.
4.5 of 5 stars.
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