The Light at the End of the Tunnel: The Ghost Inside’s triumphant return

ghost inside

As soon as I received an advance of The Ghost Inside’s long-awaited new album, I thought about what this album means before even hearing a note. If you dissect the last five years, where the band went from worldwide tours and living the dream that every musician begs for, to an abrupt uncertainty of how each day was going to play out, most never thought this day would happen. Everyone in the heavy music scene saw the aftermath of the bus crash. We cried together as the members updated us from the hospital, each with their own story of survival. We saw their pain, and we understood that seeing The Ghost Inside together again may never happen. It wasn’t something to fight or be upset about; it was just how things were.

But when things get bad, people come together. The music business rallied around The Ghost Inside in a way rarely seen in this or any industry. The band received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of their medical bills and countless messages of support. When the band finally returned to the stage in 2019, everyone able to get a ticket to the sold-out event dropped everything to be in attendance, myself included. It was apparent then as it is now that The Ghost Inside is more than a group of people making music together. The Ghost Inside is a family, and so is everyone who enjoys their music. We’re all in this together, even if we live and die alone.

This week, the guys release their new, self-titled album. They faced incredible challenges when bringing the record to life. In a recent interview, Jim Riley told Kerrang that the production era “felt like album five was our first chance to analyze everything going into the record. We’ve been a band for 10 to 12 years now, and it felt like time to solidify our sound. We wanted to combine the best elements of our previous three records {2010’s Returners, 2012’s Get What You Give, 2014’s Dear Youth}, with an understanding of what works for us and fits within the DNA of The Ghost Inside.” That’s goal is the most ambitious thing the band has ever set out to do, which is saying something considering their experiences over the last few years, but the final product proves it was not too much for them to handle.

Everything you need to know about the focus and energy of the record exists in the call to arms that serves as the opening track. The only words heard over thundering drums are, “T-G-I! From the ashes brought back to life.” It’s a direct approach to storytelling that tells you exactly what you’re in for with everything that follows. The album delivers on what fans have come to expect, including memorable hooks and unforgettable riffs. The latest work The Ghost Inside shares another side of the group we’ve never been able to explore at such length. As much as this is a record about triumph over tragedy, it is also a record about embracing vulnerability. It’s about realizing that when we allow ourselves to fall into the arms of our sisters and brothers, we can find the strength to overcome anything that lies in our way. The Ghost Inside understands the power of community in a manner other bands can only speak to figuratively. They use this record to preach about the lessons they had to learn the hard way to anyone willing to listen.

After hearing the record, I reached out to Jim directly to share my excitement. I know that’s a fortunate position to be in, but I had to let him know how the record shook my soul. He seemed thrilled to learn of my joy, and spoke with me about how the groups shared experiences informed its message.   He detailed the experiend, “We’ve talked a lot about how in the studio, we weren’t doing a lot of the like go find your bad place and write about it. You see those studio clips of the guys crying and breaking down, and I get that, it just wasn’t the process for us. We were in a dark place for four years, and the studio was the light at the end of the tunnel, so even the really fucked up things, like on Unseen, asking if we’re lucky to be alive. That’s not hard. That one day, what’s hard is lying in your bed wondering why you were spared—having people tell you how lucky you were when you were a perfectly healthy young guy, and now you’re parking in the handicapped spot. But you navigate all of that, the bad days so that you’re able to write about them later. The studio was hard work, and it was a grind, but it was always upbeat.”

We all have our baggage. We feel great and terrible things all the time, and we seldom know how we are going to make it even one more day. I know the fact that I am writing this now from the place I find myself is nothing short of a miracle, but I would never tell someone I feel worthy of whatever good has come my way. What I do know, and what I thank this band for giving me, is an appreciation for life. We are all stronger than we know, and The Ghost Inside goes to great lengths to instill that understanding with their new album. You don’t have to experience the same tragedy as the band to be able to relate to any lyric found on this release. If you are a human trying to navigate the increasingly tricky experience of existence in the modern age, then there is something here that you need to hear. The Ghost Inside is reminding us that the ability to say we are alive and breathing is a miracle worthy of celebration. They want us to take pride in who we are, regardless of whether we are where we want to be. They know better than most that life is not a journey. We are not working toward some summit or crown. Life is an experience that we should feel and enjoy in the present moment. As Ram Dass tells us, “Be here now.”