Great American Ghost, the Boston, Massachusetts, based hardcore band, will release their new EP, Torture World, on 20 January through MNRK. Vocalist Ethan Harrison has spoken about their first single, Kingmaker and how the band battled through COVID-19 times.
“Torture World has a dual meaning,” Harrison says. “Some songs on the EP are extremely political, and there are some extremely personal songs. Both things bleed into each other.”
Kingmaker is the first single, written while Harrison and guitarist Niko Gasparrini were talking about their shared love of Nine Inch Nails and industrial music. “Kingmaker is a song I wrote at the height of the QAnon hysteria,” says Harrison. “It was my own observation on the kind of people that allow something so clearly based in racism and bigotry, that has been propagated for hundreds of years just to be repackaged and resold as something new and original, to fuel their every choice and how much that disgusts me. Some things should be rejected on their face.”
The bludgeoning riffs of Kingmaker hit hard, and the excellent track has garnered much support on streaming platforms already. The EPs title track moves through classic Death Metal, crushing hardcore, and double bass-fueled fury, while Womb is beautifully severe. The final track, Death Forgives No One, has a progressive feel, being both driving and haunting.
“We didn’t have any pressure or expectations in terms of how Torture World should sound,” Harrison says. “We did what we wanted, and this is what came from it. There’s a larger scope of sound happening than in our earlier releases. Bells, percussion, a lot of extra instrumentation.”
Those earlier releases covered feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, and bitterness about broken relationships, all delivered with naked aggression. But for Great American Ghost’s 2019 album, Power Through Terror, Harrison’s lyrical thoughts turned more outward, covering government complicity in sex trafficking and abuse, a friend’s debilitating struggle with alcoholism, and the fear of failure that keeps so many bound up in apathy.
And Torture World finds Harrison delivering his take on topics such as the struggle for equality and the resulting social unrest magnified in recent years. “As a white cisgender male,” Harrison says, “I’m not in a position to say that I am oppressed. It’s not my story to tell. But I have a huge problem with the disparity that occurs inside of this civilisation that we occupy.”
Torture World finds Harrison and the band in a better place, as we all begin to emerge from the devastations of the last couple of years. “We were excited about Power Through Terror and ready to hit the road as much as humanly possible,” Harrison says about their hopes for 2019.
“We had a bunch of touring ready to roll when the record came out in February. Then we were locked down in March. It was a really long eighteen months for us, like most people. There were a lot of points where really bad things happened, and we thought, ‘Well, maybe we just don’t want to do the band anymore.’
“My mental health was going downward. We had a really horrible year, honestly.”
But with early plans for live shows and even touring back on the cards, Harrison, along with guitarists Niko Gasparrini and Grayson Stewart, and drummer Davier Perez, began to feel a sense of hope. “The conversations started to feel more real,” Harrison says. “It gave me a feeling that I hadn’t had in a long time. I missed the band even more than I realised.”
An August 2021 show with The Ghost Inside, Every Time I Die, The Acacia Strain, and Currents in front of a 10,000 enthusiastic crowd at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts, was a success.
Great American Ghost were up first. “I was nervous,” Ethan says. “I figured nobody was going to come early to watch us. I’ll always find a way to be anxious in those situations. It was the most people we’ve ever played in front of before and the most people I’ve ever stood in front of personally.”
As the band have developed, both musically and lyrically, there are always fan discussions over where the band fits in the Metal musical spectrum. “I’m so sick of the whole subgenre thing,” says Harrison. “We’ve always been in this middle ground. Some people who listen to Metal don’t see us as a Metal band. We’ve never been a straight-up hardcore band. So, we don’t really care.
“I only care whether or not people get it. As long as they get it, or it changes them or touches them emotionally in some way. Call us whatever you want.”
Torture World will be released on CD, LP, cassette, and digitally and is available from tortureworld.com