Ghosts Among Men is the follow-up full-length album by the Hardcore act Grave Maker, and it’s not quite what was expected, but should have been pretty obvious. Given the band name, one would expect this band to be something along the lines of Death Metal or something of that nature. However, that’s not the case, as Grave Maker is actually a Hardcore act, and a rather good one at that. Ghosts Among Men clocks in a little under thirty minutes and features twelve tracks of hard hitting Hardcore and Punk attitude.
Much of Ghosts Among Men is simply straight forward in-your-face Hardcore with attitude, and that’s pretty obvious right from the start with the title track, “Ghosts Among Men”, which is actually an introductory segment that leads into “Hell Followed”, but could also just be considered the first half of the song when you listen to how they merge together. However, there’s more to this release then just the Hardcore approach, as the album seems to shift pace around the track “Laid to Rest” and “Dead or Alive” into more straight forward Punk. The latter, “Dead or Alive”, is more of a catchy Punk song then a track that seems to breathe New York Hardcore attitude, being a more fun sounding track perfect for dancing with it’s traditional Punk riffs with a nice hook throughout. While “Sever Thy Head” does bring things back into the Hardcore state of mind, you can still hear some Punk-heavy moments in the bridges that are missing from the earlier material, but this is where that influence really comes to an end.
There’s nothing really to say other then the music on this release is well performed, but nothing too original. If Grave Makers were to have composed more tracks like “Laid to Rest” for this album, it might have been a different story as far as some rather unique sounds would be concerned, but it doesn’t make this album that less enjoyable. There’s still plenty of heavy tracks on here that are greatly enjoyable, such as “Seducer” which just comes at you hard and doesn’t really soften the blow outside of the bridge after the chorus. Another killer track on this release is “Vlad the Impaler”, a character that has been referenced by plenty of Hardcore bands, as well as bands inspired by “core” musical styles it seems, which is one of the faster tracks on here, as well as one of the longest and more enjoyable due to the additional substance in the song. Add on top that there are plenty of gang chant moments through the album to amp up the intensity of the music, and plenty of well orchestrated breakdowns, and you have a well oiled release here.
The only questionable aspect of this release is the random electronic studio effects thrown in. “Vlad the Impaler”, “Sever Thy Head”, and “Never Be Like You” al have these weird noises, sort of like someone is quickly pressing play and pauses to create a weird affect in the recording. The only thing is that it does not fit in either of these songs, or anywhere else for that matter, and just seem tacked on. This affect actually sounds reminiscent of the band Chimaira around the time of their self titled album, and even shortly after that aspect on “Vlad the Impaler”, as well as “Never Be Like You”, the vocals suddenly change and Mark Hunter of Chimaira starts belting a few sentences out. [At the time of this review, there is no proof it is Mark Hunter and not a member of Grave Maker, but due to the obvious similarities in vocal style, I assume it is.] Aside that, “Never Be Like You” is split into two songs actually, with the latter portion bringing in the Punk aspect once more through what seems like a cover track. However, again, no documentation was provided about this. Aside the odd sections, there’s only one real downfall aside the odd combination of two songs during “Never Be Like You”, which is during “Stronghold” due to the vocalist straining at one point, and it was never corrected for the final mix.
If you’re looking for some good Hardcore with a hint of Punk with that certain attitude, then check out Ghosts Among Men by Grave Maker. This release is a solid, entertaining album that has plenty of replay quality, even if it could stand a little more speed and aggression, if not a hint more of an original sound. The more Punk sounding tracks on here are a nice break from the Hardcore aspect, but they seem a little suiting for near the end of the album considering things seem to change up a bit with the music of this album around “Vlad the Impaler” between the special effects utilized and the guest vocals. The main issue here is that the band seems to have lost sight of the sound they started off with on the album, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since many of these later tracks are still enjoyable, it winds up causing the CD to go off track a bit and confuse the listener. Hopefully, this won’t be a problem for the band’s next release.