Though Ghostwatcher, the new album from metalcore band Beyond the Shore is not rifling the senses with anything dramatically new or before unheard, there is no denying the release is one beast of an album which leaves a sure and invigorating satisfaction behind. The Lexington-Fayette, KY quintet has released something which is as skilfully accomplished as it is destructively hungry but also finds a middle ground between extremes to heartily feed the appetites of all fans from metalcore, hardcore, and metal.
Formed in 2008 whilst its members were still at school, Beyond The Shore has evolved in sound and craft into an attention grabbing senses exploring brute of a band as evidenced by the new album. Since forming the band has shared stages alongside the likes of Born Of Osiris, Shai Hulud, MyChildren MyBride, Of Machines, and After The Burial, as well as drawing strong attention through their The Arctic Front EP in 2009 and subsequent single Shotgun Sunrise. The five-piece entered a studio to record Ghostwatcher last year before talking with many labels about releasing it. Eventually they and Metal Blade Records reached a deal to unleash the impressive album and expectations of its virulently addictive presence point to the band breaking through to new heights of recognition.
Opener Dividers is a short seizure of the ear bursting from an ominous ambience into a clutch of staccato bled riffs and firm rhythmic persuasion. The vocals of Andrew Loucks immediately show a range from guttural growls to squalling confrontation, he delivering a seamless blend which certainly ignites a healthy dose of interest alone. Musically the track does the business too without lighting fires but at its briefness also has no time to agitate any doubts before handing over to Half Lived. The second song rampages with djent clustered strikes and ravenous rhythms from drummer Chris “The Lieutenant” Stinnett, easily capturing the imagination even if again not being outwardly innovative. Where it does excel though is the hunger each area of the track has to devour the senses with enterprise and the again impressive vocals, where a clean delivery shares the stage with the scowling passion. What also stands out is that nothing is taken to extreme but still holds a distinct character, the clean vocals snarling to avoid any sappiness and the bestial assault holding a restraint to offer clarity to the lyrical intent. The vocalist also has no fear in switching within the space of a few words his style and continually doe sit with a fluidity which only impresses. By its conclusion with an excellent guitar solo blaze grabbing headlines too, the track makes the strongest persuasion with matching rewards.
The best two moments on the album follow immediately in the dramatic shapes of Transitions and Homewrecker. The first is a furious furnace of uncompromising drum violation and equally predatory bass spite from Eli Masharbash, but it is the outstanding guitar invention and imagination of Zach Hunter and Jared Loucks which seal the deal. Opening with a Korn like beckoning and plunging bass resonance, the track wraps the ear with a gentle sonic caress before forging this restraint to an urgent and carnal rhythmic attack. As mentioned the guitars shape and sculpt the heart of the song with a siren like craft which the vocals once more exploit with inventive greed. Though the band has a metalcore centre the soak of other flavours like technical and nu-metal bloom potently ignite stronger fires. The second of the two is a harder violent proposition, an irresistible violation of malicious intent and invention. In the eye of its storm though there is a mellower progressive breath at large which is unexpected and works well, the band escaping its caress before it unbalances the thrilling savagery.
Across the synapse twisting Glass Houses, as well as Milestone, and #Dreamkiller, the band continue to bring variety and compelling malevolent encounters though all tracks lyrically look to the light in their challenging themes. The middle song of the three is an instrumental which is nicely crafted and intriguing with the electro element of the band given a full atmospheric rein. It does not quite fit in the album for personal tastes, accomplished and engaging though it is it feels just like an interlude before the action restarts, which it does with vengeance on the latter of the three songs. The track snarls and gnaws on the ear with a sonic progressive insidiousness leading the second line behind again intrusive intensity of energy and aural aggression.
A further pinnacle comes from Breathe on Ice, a hypnotic twist of metalcore and hardcore invention veined with the seduction of the devil as well as a venomous imagination which also only he could have bred. It is another exceptional track which cements the energised passion triggered by the release within. Ghostwatcher may not be the most original or unique album to thrill your ears, hard to argue that issue, but it is certainly one of the most powerfully rewarding.
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