Peoria, Illinois hardcore group Ghost Key’s first EP on No Sleep Records, The Things I Am Not, showcases the band’s potential to attract a new audience. What makes it different from their earlier EPs is the fact many fans listening to The Things I Am Not, I included, may not have heard anything before it. It serves as a foundation for the band moving forward, as they work to establish themselves for a wide audience, making the execution and consistency of the EP ever more important. This EP is a solid set of decent hardcore tracks that, while not setting the band apart from the other strong bands in this scene, proves their ability to put up a fight.
At four songs, the EP jumps right into business and doesn’t look back. Beginning with an introduction by spoken word artist Keyoung, “Dismantle” proceeds to dig into a dense wave of heavy guitar, before kicking into an intense, fast-paced hardcore attack. It is very heavy in scope, as the guitars smash alongside the ferocious drums, all of which carry over into “Big Brother”. The two-minute smash is filled with heavy, airy guitars, bringing forth an emotional breakdown over the course of the whole song, as the track dissects itself before becoming nothing more than the lone yells of lead singer Austin O’Brien. After the similarly aggressive and succinct “Judgement”, “Choir Boy” serves as a satisfying conclusion to the EP, an immensely personal tale of the death of a loved one, and carries itself merely through the strength of its dense emotional core.
Without thorough investment into these songs, it’s tough to fully appreciate them. It isn’t the fault of the songs, it’s just that, with only four songs to out themselves, the EP just sort of flies by, and may do so without a second thought. Each song feels pretty similar to one another, and while they are certainly strong pieces on their own, as a whole it all feels a little incomplete. The collective effect of these songs is lost by the lack of substance to the release as a whole besides strong musicianship. It’s just hard to embrace each song individually, since the short EP makes each track hard to decipher from each other. While this may be a bit of a picky oversight, it makes The Things I Am Not hard to digest effectively. However, these four songs are great indicators of the fact that Ghost Key may be on its way to doing great things in the future, but only time will tell.