Beyond the Shore // Ghostwatcher
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — My angry metal playlist grows!
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: Facebook.com/beyondtheshore | MySpace.com/beyondtheshore
Release Dates: EU: 2013.03.29 | US: 04.02.2013
Madam X rarely wanders down the road of hardcore or metalcore since dealing with mallrats and emo’s is troublesome (where to hide the bodies and all…). Once in a while though, venturing out into the unknown pays off and you stumble across an album with a little more imagination and progression (cast your mind back if you will to 2011’s Digital Veil delivered by Travis Richter’s The Human Abstract). Now jump back to 2009 to the release of Lexington, Kentucky based Beyond the Shore’s first EP precursor (The Arctic Front). While the album bore some small resemblance to Parkway Drive, it sounded juvenile and lacked the intensity of say “Dark Days.” Four years later Beyond the Shore haven’t been working on a funeral doom album. No, instead they’ve been working on getting into Metal Blade Records (home to As I Lay Dying and a host of other big names) good graces, honing their sound and gathering some interesting elements to add to their music. Setting it just a shred apart from the metalcore masses, their vocals and instrumentation have tightened up and they’ve been dabbling in just a bit of Asking Alexandria style electronicore tastiness, all of which they’ve incorporated in their latest offering – Ghostwatcher.
Ghostwatcher opens up with “Dividers” and as the title suggests it’s a teaser (at just over a minute), of what separates Beyond the Shore from the rest of the metalcore masses. From a vocal aspect, Andrew Loucks has pleasant enough shrieks, shouts, grunts, growls and his cleans (along with the rest of the bands) have matured and dramatically intensified since the EP. Andrew successfully finds just the right vocal style for each change of course and with Ghostwatcher he fits well into the intense niche carved out earlier by Parkway Drive, August Burns Red and Oh, Sleeper.
Zach Hunter and Jared Loucks on guitars and Chris ‘The Lieutenant’ Stinnett on drums blast away in perfect unity. Their heavy-handed, hammering staccato vibe typical of the metalcore genre is layered with emotional, melodic solos that add a subtle beauty to Ghostwatcher. Noteworthy moments include tracks like “Half Lived,” “Homewrecker,” “Milestone,” “Dreamkiller” and “Ghostwatcher,” all of which showcase Zach and Jared’s ferocious focus on getting the guitar textures just right. The guitar work on the album is mightily melodic and with a reasonable level of repetition, but where Ghostwatcher got most interesting was in the Asking Alexandria flavoured synth effects heavily ingrained and most noticeable on ‘Half Lived” and “Dreamkiller”.
Production, engineering, mixing and mastering on Ghostwatcher was undertaken by North Carolina based NewLand Recordings. I noticed that they’re new in the industry, but they’ve had the mentorship of Joey Sturgis and Cameron Mizell who’ve worked with the likes of Attack Attack, Asking Alexandria, Woe is Me and The Devil Wears Prada. Staying true to what must be the “tried and tested and then re-tested” metalcore formula, the album’s loud as hell with a well polished mix.
Ghostwatcher is a short album, with the 10 tracks only just reaching a nice tidy 30 minutes, and it’s only “Glass Houses” that very barely surpasses the 4 minute mark. With repeat plays some of the guitar solos grew to feel like they lacked variety and a feeling of familiarity set in, especially around the region of “Half Lived,” “Transitions” and “Homewrecker.” They’re still beautiful solos however, and the differences are there if you take the time to appreciate them. My favourite tracks on the album ended up being “Homewrecker,” “Dreamkiller,” “Ghostwatcher” and the almost weirdly Linkin Park Meteora or Hybrid Theory sounding “Milestone,” ah the good old days! I didn’t expect to enjoy this album as much as I did and I must admit it’s a welcome addition to my angry metal playlist.