Published Mar 26, 2011Many bands claim to abhor classification and distinction. Despite this, they still tend to wallow in the pits of mediocre predictability. Ghostlimb aren't one such act. 2008 sophomore work Bearing & Distance proved this by keeping mainstay/guitarist Justin Smith's (Vitriol Records, Dangers, Graf Orlock) personal mandate intact: never tread over the same ground twice. Expanding on their brand of vicious hardcore, austere atmosphere, metal-influenced riffing and a general sense of grindcore gone awry, tertiary full-length Infrastructure once again demolishes preconceived notions about where this outfit intend to go, how they're going to get there and what we're going to encounter along their travels. While still firmly rooted in the rich soil of abrasive hardcore, fresh sprigs of almost Eyehategod-ish beastliness fire up to create a springboard for Brutal Truth-worthy explosions, melodically technical passages the whole South-eastern U.S. metal onslaught will envy and a snide punk rock sensibility that keeps everything from becoming too instrumentally self-indulgent. Creating wonderful counterbalance, slow, composed and occasionally quieter interjections ensure the album's 25 minutes steamroll with ease. Even with such a black sea of churning influence, Infrastructure sounds as though it could only have come from Ghostlimb, thanks to Smith's identifiable guitar style, injecting impressive arpeggios to offset the almost reckless power chords. Furious, yet methodical, and calculated while undeniably passionate, Infrastructure turbo-charges Ghostlimb's already powerful catalogue.
You said you feel this album is a "newer style" for the band. How so?
Smith: Yes; it is hard to conceptualize how your music actually sounds because it is always subjective. I feel that this record reflects more of the tightness and overall melodic style we have been working on forever. On top of that, it kind of upped the thrash and groove of it all while working in a lot of the rhythmic drum stuff we never did before. That being said, I think the crux of the original sound remains and it is still hyper-pissed.
Do you think it's a path you'll continue to follow or will everything change again in the future?
The direction the new record is going in is one I would like to continue. It is more concise in a lot of ways ― from the way the songs are written to the lyrical content. I hope things will keep changing, becoming tighter and more to the point while allowing the songs a little more breathing room in the length department. I think people who have listened to the previous three records will notice a progression of sorts.
How long did it take you to get Infrastructure together, what with every other project you've got going on?
This is actually the fastest a record has come together for Ghostlimb or any of the bands. In October, we had one or two of the 11 written and at the end of December, we recorded. Things are pretty hectic with the label and other bands, but this was smooth and from the get-go we knew what we wanted to do, sound- and time-wise. It was essentially a two-month period, where we practised once a week and worked on shit. I am surprised it actually worked out, honestly.
What was influencing this album overall?
We kind of just went for it on this one. Between the three of us [Alex McLeod, drums and Neal Paul Sharma, bass], we just put what we could into the songs and just didn't stop writing them until we felt it was finished. In that way, a lot of things we wanted to try for a while came out: a lot of heavier parts and a couple songs in standard, as opposed to drop tuning. For me, a lot of Propagandhi and Hot Water Music always seep into that or even things as disparate as the Clash and Pedro the Lion, but one's past inevitably pops up in things you write. I also place a lot of importance on the momentum of a song, where it is going and that it drives as hard as possible.
What would you say you were overtly trying to avoid?
I really hate jam-y bands and, for the most part, prog bands. I feel like although I came up on a lot of metal, most of the technical-death metal around is completely emotionless and also boring as shit. That is why the other side of heavy music has always appealed to me more ― the typical, annoying tech bands seem to be missing a lot of emotional or even melodic resonance, in favour of playing as many notes as fast as possible. In light of that, I try to make it broken down enough to play and sing while having as much depth to it as we can. There is something to be said, though, for trying to maintain a balance of playing ability and push in the music.
What would you define the band's sonic approach as here?
It is intense, fast, melodic. Neal  often says it has a "medieval" sound, but I don't always agree. Most of the songs are short and to the point, but offer enough diversity of riffs and parts to remain interesting and layered. More focus also went into how the lyrics are laid over the riffs, which helps the feel of the sound.
While most songs are under a minute-and-a-half, some branch out into three! How does it feel to get a little broader with your structures?
It is nice. The first record from 2006 was 11 songs in 14 minutes. I still believe in the value of getting in and getting out, so to speak, but this time we were a little freer with the format of the songs, in respect to time. I am happy with it. Some are longer, so it breaks up the record a little more and puts more emphasis on the slow parts; it's liberating. The purpose is to keep moving and removing whatever barriers you had seen before.
How was it to record these disparate parts live after writing the songs so quickly?
It was super-easy in comparison to some of the other projects we have done. It was recorded and finished in about a day-and-a-half, which is nice. Finish it, go get burritos.
How about lyrical topics? What incited you?
Ah, this one is all over the map, subject-wise, from more internal ideas to a song Neal wrote about predatory chains in a particular ecosystem. I would say, as a whole, the subject matter came from interest and reading about what is going on in developing countries, particularly in Africa, South America and Central Asia. Those ideas definitely informed a few songs about Rwanda, the Tipton Three and the U.S. military, and things as far related as, say, the R.A.F. In a domestic sense, there is a whole lot of complaining about the state of the music "industry," as well as Prop. 8 in California. My belief is that the music industry is in its welcomed death throes after abusing and, in many ways, shaping youth culture for the last 65 years or so. As a whole, I think the subject matter is a lot wider and more encompassing. Hopefully, someone somewhere will find interest in them. This is actually the first time we have put song explanations in a record, so I am interested to see what comes of it.
Packaging-wise, you've always had something unique to offer with every Vitriol release. What's this one going to be?
The layout for this is a glued jacket with a large, die-cut G on the cover. The inner sleeve is printed with the "content" on one side and the "context" ― the lyrics ― shows through the die-cut. The back has the song titles and record title embossed, so there is no actual printing on the jacket. I always try to do something different and make the records worth the money people are spending on them. I think if the people making them took a little time to look into doing things efficiently, they could come up with something interesting without making kids pay $30 for their LP. (Vitriol)