Reviews that just compare a band's newest release to its previous ones are always lame, but I can't help but say, no pun intended, that the new When Tigers Fight just doesn't have the bite that their self-titled EP had.
While the guitar-work and production on this release are far more superior than probably anything Tigers' members have done with previous acts (which includes Damnation AD, Suicide File, and the Promise, among others), the ferocity that could be found on the band's debut is seriously lacking, as are the in-your-face vocal attacks of vocalist Mike McTernan, making Ghost Story no different from every modern run-of-the-mill hardcore band that's out now, which is quite ironic since the credits on the insert of their EP read "A very special thanks goes out to the lack of originality, spirit, and honesty in hardcore music out there to help inspire this record."
Don't get me wrong, When Tigers Fight is still heavy and angry as fuck, but the originality just isn't there anymore, and almost each and every track sounds the same as the last. Gone are the angsty call-outs on the current state of the straight-edge hardcore scene, as is any heart, and I hate to say it, but it's mostly due to the boring and formulaic vocal efforts of McTernan. He practices almost no diversity in the rhyme scheme, and it sometimes comes off like children's poetry (e.g. "Keep on talkin' and talkin' / But I don't know what you're talkin' about! / Keep on talkin' and talkin' / But you know I'm out, I'm out!").
Most fans of the band's EP will probably be disappointed with Ghost Story, especially with all of the excitement and expectations surrounding its release. They won't find any memorable lines, nor will they find the earth-shattering breakdowns coupled with McTernan screaming "I'll see you in hell!" Instead, they will be submitted to ridiculous tracks titled "Harmony Café," as McTerman and his crew effortlessly growl "And just because you got a tattoo / Doesn't mean you just got a clue," and other brainless lyrics dealing with trips to the mall and broken promises, obviously, nothing bands like Terror haven't already covered.
However, the disc's opening track "All That's Left" is a brutal guitar assault on the ears, and executes, easily, the best riffs featured on either of Tigers' releases, so points go to that. But be warned, kids, open up those Soulseek programs and find this song, because it's the only one worth listening to.
Overall, a big disappointment from a band I thought had promises of potential, but instead came up short when writing a longer record.