American Ghosts

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Minnesota-based four-piece Lessons has said it formed “in tribute to recapture the early throwback sound of metalcore,” and that’s precisely what the group delivers on its new EP, American Ghost. It’s a lean, no-frills record, and that’s definitely a compliment.

Many of the hallmarks of contemporary metalcore — namely, forced melodic flourishes and overproduction — are absent here. Instead, Lessons delivers a focused, coherent five-song effort that improves over their previous release, Five Points, in every regard.

Opener “Thieves” begins with a web of atmospheric effects before erupting into a torrent of double-time drums and sludgy down-tuned riffs.

“Diamond Skulls” — one of the more compelling metalcore cuts I’ve heard this year —  is the undeniable highlight of the record, veering from triumphant, ascending chord progressions to pulse-pounding choruses that truly showcase vocalist J.J. Snell’s talent. Meanwhile, the propulsive title track features some impressive cascading guitar licks from axeman Chad Snell.

Lessons really crank up the low end for the menacing, heavy workouts of “King of Spades” and “Recover.” The band makes subtle use of synth textures throughout, but always in a manner that enhances the songs rather than distracting from their impact.

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