SIX REASONS TO KILL are a band founded on the cusp of the formation of metalcore. Throughout their relatively long history (founded in 1999), the band have explored the line between death metal/hardcore hybrid. On the basis of We Are Ghosts, their fifth full-length effort, this exploration still produces great results.
Although a 14-year-old band, I admit I had not come across SIX REASONS TO KILL until now. Judging by their newest album this is something I regret already. We Are Ghosts is a great record, and already I’m hooked. There’s much catching up to do.
Metalcore is a notoriously broad genre, and unpicking a band like SIX REASONS TO KILL is quite difficult. We Are Ghosts is certainly an album which I’ve had a bit of a mental block writing about – this is a metalcore record which is yet also definitely close to death metal. The influences and sounds are familiar, but in an unfamiliar package.
In a way, the question of genre doesn’t matter – in fact; the success of this album is in this ambiguity. SIX REASONS TO KILL look outside the spectrum of just the core genres – surprising and entertaining. Although We Are Ghosts maintains a suitably consistent brutal feel, the variety of influences gives the record a great vitality and freshness. A good example is on one of my stand-out tracks, Betrayer, which moves from a more typical metalcore brutality into an instrumental ballad much reminiscent of Insomnium’s brand of melo-death. The change of mood and pace is refreshing, and breaks up the album, giving it some much needed space. It’s rare too that I find myself thinking of a metalcore track as ‘beautiful’, but this demonstrates the depth of We Are Ghosts.
Scandinavia is heard throughout We Are Ghosts, from the darker more ambient black metal scene to melodic death metal grooves inspired by the two extremes of Arch Enemy or In Flames. SIX REASONS TO KILL are not afraid of toeing the melodic line, as seen on opening track The Damned or Unburied Again. Unlike most metalcore, however, choruses are not given clean vocals, adding to the death metal vibe. On which note, a special mention must be given to vocalist Lars Tekolf, whose delivery is one of the more powerful I’ve heard in quite a while. The production too is particularly impressive, bringing out the bass but also avoiding a bass-heavy sound.
Although as I keep mentioning the album is heavily indebted to death metal, tracks such as Heartbreaker display ‘purer’ hardcore. This track is one of the few moments where the album fails to deliver – it overstays its welcome by a solid minute and is only redeemed by the change in mood delivered on the following Factor X. The title track is also disappointing, repetitive almost to the point of boring. Again however, it can be put down to only a glitch within an otherwise solid record.
It is one of my beliefs that for an album to be great, it must be progressive in its own way. In other words, this means that the emphasis is on exploration of new sounds, looking outside to other genres. This is broadly felt in We Are Ghosts, especially in the more ambient moments on The Damned and Catalyst. Although the emphasis is still on the brutal, the sense of space and melody within are enough to create a varied and interesting album. This is a record I highly rate, and a band sorely under appreciated. Give them a listen, you won’t regret it.
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