The Ghosts We Will BecomeSoft Speak Records
By Cole Faulkner
If Rise Against has taught us anything over the past decade, it’s that quality punk rock can be brought to the mainstream while maintaining the life and spontaneity from which they built momentum in today’s scene. More of an exception than the rule, it is possible to achieve regular radio play without adopting the pitfalls of radio rock and coming off sounding like Nickleback or Creed. On the flip side, fabricated success always has gaping holes, as is the case with “punk rock” super group Nations Afire.
The group blatantly skips that little step of defining their own sound and instead takes the easiest route to the top. Rather than build on a pedigree drawing on Ignite, Rise Against and Death By Stereo for the band’s debut full length, The Ghosts We Will Become, the band seems intent on producing the same artificially hard, hard rock that has been plaguing the mainstream since the 90’s. It’s not as faceless as, say, Theory Of A Deadman, but it could easily be mistaken for any number of long since forgotten Nickleback clones (remember Chevelle?). It’s as if they filed down Death By Stereo’s gnashing teeth and completely ignored any of Ignite’s rip-roaring potential; the songs play at a painfully consistent made-for-radio mid-tempo pace.
For the sake of professionalism this is the point where the reviewer includes a few pointed specifics. But there’s nothing specific or particular about any of these songs. They’re all very well produced and pleasing in the moment, but lack at offering anything compelling to remember them by. The vocal layering in opener “I Am An Army” sounds good in theory, but doesn’t amount to anything of value; “Nine Lives” is as safe a they come, and the promising intro of “One Perfect Day” is completely wasted once the same over-used riffs drown out even the most distinct choruses.
Vocalist Nick Hill bears just as much of the blame – his wholly one-dimensional delivery mars his strength as a capable vocalist. Those pointing to the largely acoustic offering “Even The Blackest Heart Still Beats” for redemption would have their work cut out for them defending the very Chad Kroger sounding Hill.
If I’ve come across as overly harsh, it’s only because Nations Afire should be capable of so much more. The band clearly aims for the broadest mass appeal, and the album suffers accordingly. With a complete lack of creative drive, The Ghosts We Will Become will be lucky to be remembered as more than a complete let down, destined to into obscurity as a forgotten ghost in your music library.