REVIEW: Beyond The Shore - Ghostwatcher

Genre: Progressive Metal/Metalcore
Label: Metal Blade
Date of Release: April 2, 2013


In 2013, within the technical hardcore crowd arises a new effort from quartet Beyond The Shore. This band was founded in 2008 from Lexington, Kentucky, and in 2009, they released their debut EP entitled "The Arctic Front." This apparently grabbed the attention of Metal Blade Records, a label famous for signing bands such as As I Lay Dying, Cattle Decapitation, and Amon Amarth. What follows would be the release of the quartet's first full-length record called "Ghostwatcher." Though this album doesn't offer anything particularly new to the progressive "djent" movement, there is plenty of things worthy of praise here.

The first highlight of this album is how strongly it demonstrates the band's musicianship. The aggressive vocals are great, possessing a great range between low, middle, and high pitches and adding much more vigor to the music. On top of that, the partially-screamed singing in tracks such as "Half Lived" not only delivers some catchy melody, but it piles on more of the energy that the angry vocals unleashed. As a result, it creates a duality that is well-tied together. The guitar work is also stellar, showing off an arsenal of gripping polyrhythmic riffs and soaring melodies, making way for a rather diverse performance. Along with that, the drums are played out nicely, showcasing some great speed and energetic framework for the music. Beyond The Shore does a great job of displaying their musicianship without any noodling, and this instrumentation is very likable.

In addition to the enjoyable musicianship, the sound production is another element of "Ghostwatcher" that should be noted. It doesn't just make the music sound crisp and the instrumental elements sound distinguishable from each other, but it also can switch from compact to resonant when needed. Conceptually, this does seem like a negative point for this album, because it would normally mean that the mixing is inconsistent, and therefore distracting. However, here, this somehow really works, making the polyrhythmic breakdowns sound tight and somewhat robotic, and the slower parts sound more atmospheric. It may appear as a flaw from the surface, but it does ultimately serve the record quite well.

"Ghostwatcher" consists of a modern mix of progressive, technical metal with melodic metalcore. It's done quite solidly, though it does have a few drawbacks. The first one is that the music is nothing very special. It's quite generic, and inventiveness should not be expected here. Secondly, a few of the tracks do sound too similar, especially in terms of the technical breakdowns. Thankfully, despite these problems, the positive aspects do outweigh them well. The songs, for one thing, are structured very well, and pretty much all the gripping moments, bridges, and build-ups weave with each other rather seamlessly. On top of that, the metalcore blends complexity with energetic melody, and it all adds up to an enjoyably vigorous and investing record. If one can look past the album's generic factor, then there is plenty to take pleasure in in the music.

Overall, "Ghostwatcher" is a very good progressive metalcore record. Not only are the musicianship and production carried out incredibly well, but the music's balance between technicality and melody truly lends itself for a nicely energetic soundtrack. The only real issue here is that the music is undeniably generic, and the jaded likely won't fare so well in listening to it. However, even so, the songs are still solid and are loaded with gripping moments that all tie together in strong structures. Technical and melodic metal fans may really enjoy this album for how well-built it is. While "Ghostwatcher" isn't essential, it's a solid release, and it makes clear that Beyond The Shore is headed in an intriguing direction.

Score: 7/10 (Solid)