Full disclosure: Ghostlimb vocalist/guitarist Justin Smith and I co-wrote a book together a couple years ago and we’re still regularly in touch about future projects, our respective work and touring schedules or to just shoot the shit. So, take whatever sloppy ball-licking from my end that follows with any amount of salt you desire.
Regardless of any conflict of interest, I’ve always been a Ghostlimb fan going back to their Bearing & Distance debut in 2008. The band has always stood as outliers; one of those outfits that’s too heavy for the post-hardcore set but not heavy enough for those who like their music peppered with blast beats and cookie monster growls. No matter because whether Ghostlimb is finding itself on the receiving end of glowing praise or flippant dismissal, the fact remains they consistently write killer songs steeped in a unique brand of melodic chaos that sounds like the result of Ruiner or Ignite crashing a ‘54 El Dorado convertible into the ass-end of a watering hole owned by Plane Mistaken for Stars before Time in Malta came along and van flipped on top of the whole mess.
Difficult Loves makes a move towards a wider expression of the different forms aggression can manifest itself in, especially when compared to the overall harder edge of previous albums, Confluence and Infrastructure. That’s not to say album number four doesn’t have its “headhitsconcrete” moments as “A Gobi of Suburbs,” “Brushfire” and “Sense of Place” are just as pulsating, speedy and powerful as anything that went by in a blur in the past. However, the sustained guitars and rocking simplicity of “Hostility Compelling,” the melodic Hot Water Music career span of “Wall of Books” and how “Folds in the Sheets” drenches chord progressions in sugar-coated ire indicate that incendiary displays of gut-wrenching puissance can share space with overt hum-a-long melodies.
The funny thing is that, as mentioned above, Ghostlimb has perpetually fallen into a genre purgatory. What’s most ironic, however, is that Difficult Loves not only stands on its own merit as a exceptional collection of heartfelt hardcore from the more leaden side of the universe, but would be an excellent gateway tool for those from either side of whatever fence divides heavy from not these days.
01. A Gobi of Suburbs
02. Sense of Place
03. Hostility Compelling
04. Wall of Books
05. Difficult Loves
07. Folds in the Sheets
09. Addressee Relocated to Cemetery
10. Treason Fluently
11. Life’s Blood
Run Time: 31:30
Release Date: February 13, 2016
Check out the song “Treason Fluently” here.