Album Review :
Lessons - American Ghosts

By in Reviews | Comments closed

Band: Lessons
Album: American Ghosts
Label: Unsigned
Release: 12.18.13
Reviewer: Brody B

  1. Thieves
  2. Diamond Skull
  3. American Ghosts
  4. King of Spades
  5. Recover

Have you ever found yourself wondering what some of your favorite musicians would sound like if they tackled a genre completely different than what they made their claim to fame in? I’ve often found myself wondering what Stevie Ray Vaughan would have sounded like had he dipped his toes into post-rock music. Neil Peart has also crossed my mind from time to time, behind the kit in a Between the Buried and Me esqe prog-metal band.

Each time I’ve seen Children 18:3 perform live, I have found myself thinking the same thing about the band. The thought started when I noticed the band has a tendency to play heavier music during sound check. It was only natural for me to wonder what these siblings would be capable of if they tried their hand at a metalcore band.

Lessons is the result of that dream, as it features the two brothers, David and Seth Hostettler of Children 18:3 on bass and drums respectively, along with brothers JJ and Chad Snell. According to the band’s Facebook, they “Formed in tribute to recapture the early throwback sound of metalcore”. Do they succeed? I think yes.

The sound Lessons brings to the table hearkens back to a day before every band in the genre was trying to hop on the train of success bands like The Devil Wears Prada and August Burns Red had made for themselves. “American Ghosts” features no clean vocals and no acoustic songs on saving space for nothing but the most brutal riffage and howls from start to finish.

Thieves starts off gradually but kicks in abruptly after vocalist JJ Snell proclaims, “All the world’s a stage / and I’m simply disgusted / with how I’ve spent my days…”. The Hostettler brothers bring to the table what you would expect: groovy bass riffs and technical drum work. Chad Snell also lays down some of his best guitar work on the opener as melodic leads shine through the chunky riffs nicely.

My first experience with Lessons was hearing their lead single off “American Ghosts”, Diamond Skulls. I think this track remains my favorite due to the band clicking in every regard. The guitar leads are ever present, adding a ton of atmosphere which contrast nicely with the harsh vocals. The drums and bass also work quite nicely together and Seth lays down some punk sounding beats he’s famous for while David rattles your brain with growling bass riffs.

The title track off the album is one of the most energy filled on “American Ghosts”. The verses rip with ferocious speeds while the chorus reigns things in a bit, and somehow makes angelic choruses sound pummeling. King of Spades is equally as energy packed as it’s predecessor, truly shining as Snell shouts, “You’re not dead when you’re in the ground / You’re only dead when you’ve given up!”.

With the slower intro and the fact that it’s the last song on the album, I was expecting Recover to be toned back. Don’t fret metalheads – it’s not! While the speed may be slower than other tracks on the album, Recover lumbers it’s way to the end and shakes the ground in the process.

Overall: It’s always awesome to see musicians try their hands at other genres; especially when they can pull it off as expertly as what Lessons does. Really the only thing that hindered “American Ghosts” from being flawless was the lack of variety within the tracks. Each song had it’s own memorable moments when taking care to listen, but too much ran together over the course of the album. If you’re looking for a record that hearkens back to the days of non-gimmick, old-school metalcore then Lessons might be the band for you.

RIYL: Misery Signals | Colossus | Your Memorial | To the Wind