Have The Ghost Inside outdone themselves with 'Dear Youth'? With the concept for their fourth album coming from a letter addressed to frontman Jonathan Vigil’s younger self, ‘Dear Youth’ sees The Ghost Inside taking influence from the past to navigate their future. While there is no shortage of signature beatdowns – ‘My Endnote’ and ‘Mercy’ are sure to pummel live – the LA hardcore outfit venture into new territory on the epic, slow build of ‘Phoenix Flame’ and the more punk-driven melody of ‘Wide Eyed’, which features letlive.’s Jason Butler. Topping 2012’s ‘Get What You Give’ wasn’t going to be easy, but The Ghost Inside have kept up the momentum at the very least.
The fourth studio long-player from the West Coast metalcore unit, Dear Youth goes all in, doubling down on the band's penchant for crafting tightly wound, muscular, old-school screamo blasts of aggression with a punk-metal center. The album kicks things off with "Avalanche," a fist-pumping stadium rocker complete with on-the-nose snare hits and pick slides. Adhering to a vague conceptual framework that addresses the myriad challenges of growing older, especially within the confines of the often unforgiving and machismo-filled world of post-hardcore, Dear Youth feels completely dialed in, even as it wrestles with the lyrical tropes and sonic traps of its chosen genre.
Right back at it again with the production A-Team of A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon and Andrew Wade, the Ghost Inside deliver a concept album on Dear Youth. TGI are still your gym buddy, though: The verses are venomous and the breakdowns are more or less unchanged.“Mercy” finds frontman Jonathan Vigil bellowing, “For whom the bell tolls!” and us thinking, “Hemingway never sounded this hardcore.” While the setups are on point (as another mosh call steams, “Life's swinging hard/But I’m swinging harder”), their pummeling side remains one-dimensional. What they have changed is cause for concern.