[7.5/10] Rare when we type “tasteful” and “hardcore punk/metal” in the same sentence (let alone have the same thought sequence), but Ghostlimb have managed to inject some much-needed intelligence into the style on their fourth album, Confluence. The product of Graf Orlock/Vitriol Records mainman Justin Smith, Ghostlimb is one of Smith’s various side-adventures, part of a body of work that has pegged the man as one of the hardest working people in the underground. And yes, Confluence certainly works it.
There’s 23 minutes of music on Confluence, so Ghostlimb have just enough time to create some serious crash-bang-wallop. Smith’s vocals are equally spiteful and insightful (rhyming is so cool), with lyrics touching upon historical events like the fall of Ancient Rome and more prescient topics, like cultural hegemony. We’ve often fussed about bands with a supposed message hidden behind marble-mouthed vocals, yet Smith’s razed vocal excursions are sung with plenty of conviction.
The lean-and-mean nature of Confluence allows the band to get down with hard-chargers like “Margins,” “Sunlight,” and “Ardor,” while the groove-saddled “Canidae” and album highlight “Conquerors of the Useless” make ample headway in both the melodic and hardcore department. Then before you know it, Ghostlimb bows out, with the remnants of searing riffs and pure-spite ringing away. This is some hardcore (in the most literal sense) stuff.