REVIEW: Great American Ghost – Torture World [EP/2022]

Artist: Great American Ghost
Album: Torture World – EP

Chains pull. Spikes jab and pierce. Clamps clamp and pincers…pince? Your vision blurs and every common-sense modality—each tediously maintained synapse and malnourished neuron—in your brain buckles under the weight of immeasurable pain. You see nothing but red before you see nothing at all. That’s kind of what it feels like pressing play on the 2022 EP by Boston-based metalcore butchers, Great American Ghost. Torture World is absolutely true to its name; it is magnificent bastion of brutality which slams away at the listener using nothing but raw riffs, churning breakdowns and vicious screams to make its point. Torture World follows the band’s critically acclaimed 2020 full length record with zeal, purpose and more than its fair share of bloodlust, bringing about the band’s most pointed assault on the listener’s psyche to date. So sit back, grit your teeth, press “play”—Great American Ghost have you now, welcome to Torture World.
Great American Ghost’s instrumental approach to Torture World is unsurprising given the band’s choice of name for the blistering four-track EP—but it is unsurprising in the most pleasant way possible. Torture World stomps the gas pedal hard at the onset of “Kingmaker” and doesn’t let up, with percussion that swings at the listener’s head like a sledge hammer, and dense, disastrously heavy bass that amplifies the low end in every lurid, flesh-rending breakdown. If the lead single alone wasn’t evidence of this, the three tracks that follow almost certainly are—especially “Torture World.” Here, the band’s penchant for malicious metalcore is abundant, with a no-holds barred approach that combines gnashing, jarring drumming with scathing leads and spine-shrinking breakdowns. However, hellish aggression isn’t the only thing in Great American Ghost’s armamentarium; while they have precious little time to do it, the band does dip into a more melodic realm on Torture World. “Womb,” as well as sparse segments of “Death Forgives No One” see more ambient leads working alongside the band’s malevolent sea of chugs and riffs, providing a more dynamic experience for the listener. Ultimately, the instrumental approach to Torture World is the logical continuation of the band’s efforts from their acclaimed record Power Through Terror—but with even more depth, dynamism and creativity within the songwriting to add more live and vivaciousness to each track.
Just as Great American Ghost provide a whirlwind of energetic, eviscerating metalcore with their musical components, their vocal element is similarly vicious. Once more, “Kingmaker”—from a lyrical and vocal perspective—establishes this without hesitation. Torture World, even with its dabbling in the more ethereal, is a lyrically crushing release that uses harsh, raw vocals as a vector to deliver those lyrics into the listener’s head much in the same way a gun serves as a vector for bullets. Each line is intensely spat with a vitriol and fervor that very much match the content, the EP title and the band’s reputation. Ultimately, there isn’t a huge change of pace from the band’s previous vocal offerings—but as the adage goes, if it aint broke, don’t fix it, and Great American Ghost definitely didn’t have anything that desperately needed fixing. The incorporation of singing throughout the EP’s latter tracks adds yet another layer of dynamism into the mix, giving the listener both a reprieve from the primal and raw nature of the band’s screams—as well as something more to love about the band’s relatively unique brand of metalcore.
Torture World is a terrific release, full stop. While I was personally hopeful for a couple more tracks, it remains an extremely strong collection of songs from a powerhouse of a metalcore act. While Great American Ghost didn’t reinvent the wheel, they added another strong stepping stone into their discography—one that has my eyes and ears peeled to see as to where they’ll land with their next release.

For Fans Of: Degrader, Born a New, Like Moths to Flames
By: Connor Welsh