Every Friday, I scour the internet for new music releases. The weekly Friday Awards will highlight my favorite discovery each week, with a special emphasis on artists that are new, new-ish, or new to me.
Some weeks, I fail to find an album that really captures me — or I lack the time to search hard enough for “the one.” (You might have noticed that I skipped posting an album for January 31st altogether.) Valentine’s Day 2020 was the opposite, as I was struggling to narrow it down. I had quite nearly settled on Beach Bunny’s fun and likable Honeymoon (which would have fit perfectly with the “pop-punk/emo” theme that this website is supposed to have), not to mention John Mark McMillan’s fantastic new release Peopled with Dreams.
However, late that Friday evening, (right before being saved from a lonely Valentine’s by my friend Theo’s invitation to come over and watch The Godfather), I took a random recommendation from a stranger online and tried out the new Great American Ghost album, Power Through Terror. From the opening moments of “Rat King,” I was hooked.
Power Through Terror felt simultaneously old-fashioned and fresh, in a brutal hardcore fashion that reminded me of hearing letlive’s The Blackest Beautiful for the first time, way back in 2013. In a blast of three minute tracks creating one thirty-minute adventure, Great American Ghost have crafted an episode of punky blast beats, bleak philosophizing (“Hope won’t save us now / Lost souls without a purpose / Unaware that life is worthless“), class dysfunction, and nearly zero respite from the angry screams of lead vocalist Ethan Harrison, who is always on the verge of being melodic. (To his credit, his screams are also quite easy to understand.)
I have always been a proponent of the argument that heavy music is not inherently angry, but in the case of Great American Ghost, their music is designed around having something important to be angry about, such as on “Altar of Snakes”: “No priests, no peace, no innocence / No one is truly Heaven-sent / Locked away behind Heaven’s gate / We only know the hell that we create.” As a Protestant Christian myself, I am always fascinated to read the lyrics of non-Christians and atheists who tackle religious themes head-on, and the music of Power of Terror is so relentless and cathartic, matched by lyrics that are so honest, impassioned, and intelligent, that I leave the record understanding and empathizing with each sentiment.
Anger exists for a reason. There are proper reasons to feel it and healthy things to do with the feeling. It’s right and good to react to evil, injustice, and manipulation with anger. Great American Ghost have reminded me why it was so natural and so inevitable for the hardcore genre to come into existence — their are some observations, perspectives, feelings, and truths that are more effectively presented in this genre than any other.
Author’s Note: The reason I created this website and write these articles stems from my belief that artists should support other artists, in the same way that art inspires art. My debut album Unfall is out now, and I’d love for you to hear it.