Great American Ghost – Torture World EP

Boston metallic hardcore bruisers, Great American Ghost, left their imprint on 2020 with one of the heaviest albums of recent years. Power Through Terror left many jaws dislocated and pushed eye veins to breaking point. Now they return with a four-track EP to keep up their momentum, and it’s as intense as Dillinger Escape Plan’s classic EP, The Mullet Burden. It’s not mathcore, thrash or deathcore – it’s all these things crammed into fourteen minutes of insane rage.

This reviewer will bet you’ll not find a heavier or more aggressive song than opener, ‘Kingmaker’, for the entirety of 2022. Jesus Christ, this song is savage enough to give you a permanent tick in your left cheek. Listen how the delayed-guitar slide of the intro riff gives way to a syncopated Fear Factory crunch. Meshuggah and Gojira should pay attention if they want ideas how to freshen up their sound. You’ll cower as the first breakdown at 01:50 seconds imitates the cold steel of an industrial slaughterhouse machine; the second one terrorises after a scream of “Careful what you wish for, you fucking cowards.” Ouch! This is the music in your head when you walk into the valley of the unknown with your strongest survivalist instincts.

Fit for an Autopsy’s Will Putnam does a stellar job as producer and might have captured the chunkiest guitar tone of the new decade on this record. Niko Gasparrini’s axemanship on ‘Torture World’ will leave your shoulders tense and your pursed lips in an exaggerated state of masculine empathy. How surprising then, that Ethan Harrison decides to use the chorus here for his first foray into clean singing. It’ll remind you of Ghost Iris in its delivery, but any distraction from the murderous rampage at hand is immaterial once the beatdown riffs resume.

Back in the 1990s, hardcore and technical metal were mutual enemies. Now the two unite like natural disruptors with a common purpose. ‘Womb’ matches Periphery in the complexity stakes yet retains a Knocked Loose vibe throughout. It should remind metalheads that modern hardcore is the place to be if you want the heavy stuff. Likewise, death metal fans have every reason to give Torture World a listen even if the band have neck tattoos and short hair and look like extras from a gritty Ben Affleck film set in their home city of Boston. Get your air guitar ready for the chromatic shred riff towards the end of ‘Womb’. The mellifluous guitar solo preceding it would’ve been unthinkable in this type of music two decades ago, but we’ve come a long way since Vision of Disorder.

You could sit through forty minutes of this brutality with no reservations about it turning into a monotonous experience. Great American Ghost channel their blue-collar rage through angular guitar bludgeoning but understand that their vitriolic lyrics are just as important. We should all decry the presence of political horse-traders in our democratic process. As ‘Kingmaker’ makes clear, these people believe in no ideology and subordinate all their energy to exercising and retaining power. To call them a necessary evil is too kind.

Closing track, ‘Death Forgives No One’ is just as uncompromising as it sounds and starts with the same mid-tempo crunch as the latest Whitechapel record. This band are hardcore in spirit but metal in their musical execution. They’re also adept at writing an anthemic chorus: “It all comes crashing down/ We fall together/ I tried to find my humanity/ But I should’ve known better,” roars Ethan Harrison with an undertone of self-loathing.

We might not get a full album for another year, but its release will shoot to the top of your priority list after this record. Torture World is a colossal sonic experience.



Release Date: 21/01/2022

Record Label: MNRK Heavy

Standout tracks: Kingmaker, Womb

Suggested Further Listening: Knocked Loose – A Different Shade of Blue (2019), Impending Doom – Hellbent EP (2022), Neorhythm – Evils EP (2021)