Boston’s Great American Ghost Torture World EP will release on January 20th, 2022 via MNRK Heavy, today unveiling its cover art, track listing, and first single, “Kingmaker.”
Produced by Will Putney (A Day To Remember, Knocked Loose, The Amity Affliction), who handled the band’s critically-adored 2019 full-length, Power Through Terror, with Torture World, the band directs old-school hardcore wrath at hypocrisy, apathy, and self-loathing, delivered in a dark cloud of relentlessly bludgeoning riffs. The EP’s title track blends atmospheric melodies with unrelenting heaviness, maneuvering swiftly between classic death metal, crushing hardcore, and double bass-fueled fury. “Womb” is as fast and severe as anything originating from the frozen forests of Scandinavia, swinging wildly back and forth between blackened death and slow, bludgeoning sludge. “Death Forgives No One” concludes the proceedings, with a progressive bent, equal parts driving and haunting, with an almost esoteric quality beneath it all.
Vocalist Ethan Harrison and guitarist Niko Gasparrini spoke about their shared love of Nine Inch Nails and industrial, resulting in Torture World’s first single, “Kingmaker.” The very metal but angular, sharply percussive EP opener showcases the band’s attention to detail in crafting instrumentation, carefully weaving through choruses, breakdowns, and bludgeoning riffs.
“‘Kingmaker’ is a song I wrote at the height of the QAnon hysteria,” elaborates Harrison on the theme driving the pummel. “It was my own observation on the kind of people that allow something so clearly based in racism and bigotry, that has been propagated for hundreds of years just to be repackaged and resold as something new and original, to fuel their every choice and how much that disgusts me. Some things should be rejected on their face.”
A punishing video for Great American Ghost’s “Kingmaker” is currently playing at Metal Injection, noting, “It’s the kind of song that your neighbors really ought to hear, and maybe even feel depending on your sound system.”
Great American Ghost Torture World EP Track Listing
2. Torture World
4. Death Forgives No One
It was the first Great American Ghost show in eighteen months, and there was no guarantee there’d even be an audience. The Ghost Inside, Every Time I Die, The Acacia Strain, and Currents filled out a bill booked for the outdoor parking lot stage at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts. Great American Ghost, hailing from nearby Boston, went on earliest, with lots of daylight left on the clock. “I was nervous,” frontman Ethan Harrison confesses. “I figured nobody was going to come early to watch us. I’ll always find a way to be anxious in those situations. It was the most people we’ve ever played in front of before and the most people I’ve ever stood in front of personally.”
The triumphant post-pandemic return in front of 10,000 enthusiastic people was a testament to just how successfully Great American Ghost connected through a steady stream of furious music. The group Metal Injection calls, “always hateful, always pissed,” steadily built a devoted following with the bleak and punishing Everyone Leaves (2015), Hatred Stems From The Seed (2017), the Don’t Come Back EP (2016), and Power Through Terror (2019).
Even as the worldwide shutdown and personal adversities big and small threatened to derail the band, perseverance ultimately prevailed, resulting int he four-song Torture World EP poised to take the band’s vicious bile in new directions.
“We were excited about Power Through Terror and ready to hit the road as much as humanly possible,” Harrison recalls. “We had a bunch of touring ready to roll when the record came out in February. Then we were locked down in March. It was a really long eighteen months for us, like most people. There were a lot of points where really bad things happened, and we thought, ‘Well, maybe we just don’t want to do the band anymore.’ My mental health was going downward. We had a really horrible year, honestly.”
But as the light began to creep in toward the end of the tunnel, with plans for shows and even touring on the horizon, Harrison and his bandmates – guitarist Niko Gasparrini and drummer Davier Perez – began to feel some glimmers of hope. “The conversations started to feel more real. It gave me a feeling that I hadn’t had in a long time. I missed the band even more than I realized.”
“We didn’t have any pressure or expectations in terms of how Torture World should sound,” Harrison says. “We did what we wanted, and this is what came from it. There’s a larger scope of sound happening than on our earlier releases. Bells, percussion, a lot of extra instrumentation.” And the riffs are still there.
Early releases tackled feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, and bitterness about broken relationships with naked aggression. On Power Through Terror, Harrison turned his poison pin outward as well, going after government complicity in sex trafficking and abuse; a friend’s debilitating struggle with alcoholism; the fear of failure that keeps so many bound up in apathy. Torture World tackles several issues with urgency and passion, not the least of which is the struggle for equality and the resulting social unrest magnified in recent years. “As a white cisgender male, I’m not in a position to say that I am oppressed. It’s not my story to tell,” Harrison cautions. “But I have a huge problem with the disparity that occurs inside of this civilization that we occupy.”
“Torture World has a dual meaning,” he continues. “Some songs on the EP are extremely political and there are some extremely personal songs. Both things bleed into each other.”
It’s an approach to the lyrical side of the band that continues to apply to their music. Since the first time a punk rocker palm-muted a guitar, there’s been a debate about what constitutes “true” hardcore, crossover, thrash, metalcore, ad nauseam. GREAT AMERICAN GHOST is comfortably beyond that conversation. “I’m so sick of the whole subgenre thing,” says Harrison. “We’ve always been in this middle ground. Some people who listen to metal don’t see us as a metal band. We’ve never been a straight-up hardcore band. So, we don’t really care. I only care whether or not people get it. As long as they get it, or it changes them or touches them emotionally in some way? Call us whatever you want.”
Great American Ghost:
Ethan Harrison – vocals
Niko Gasparrini – guitar
Davier Perez – drums
Grayson Stewart – guitar