It’s an amazing day when a band streams their album on YouTube two weeks before it’s actually released. It displays a sense of confidence and trust between an artist and fan, as well as giving anyone who’s too attached to a band’s previous work time to acquire a test for the new album. That describes The Ghost Inside’s new album, Dear Youth, perfectly. An acquired taste.

Depending on when you start listening to The Ghost Inside, that’s when you’ll find their best work. It’s not bad by any means, but it doesn’t quite live up to the standard their previous albums set. It’s still the lyrically impressive hardcore music fans have come to know and love, but Dear Youth differentiates itself in multiple ways, which aren’t necessarily for the best.

The most notable element from Dear Youth is poor studio quality of the entire album. Instead of complimenting each other, the instruments drown themselves out. The end result is Jonathan Vigil screaming at you with distorted background noise. That is to say the instruments aren’t bad, but they come off more generic compared to Returners and Get What You Give and the poor mixing of the album lacks the much needed oomph necessary for The Ghost Inside’s heavy style. This problem will be solved at concerts, but it doesn’t help the recorded versions whatsoever.

Besides the weak the mix, the drumming seems slower and guitars slightly less melodic. Granted, there are exceptions like Dear Youth (the song, not the album) and Blank Pages. However, reducing the musical elements that originally distinguished The Ghost Inside combined with their lower emphasis on Dear Youth only blends them in with the thousands of other similar sounding bands. As a result, everything from riffs and breakdowns don’t stand out nearly as much with the exception of Mercy.

Vigil sounds like his normal self, which is good news considering how difficult it is for vocalists in hardcore genres to keep a consistent sound. His screams are still heavy, yet surprisingly clear, but Dear Youth doesn’t have nearly as much clean vocals as Get What You Give. It really helped give The Ghost Inside that melodic component. He sings a lot in Phoenix Flame, but it’s noticeably absent in far too many songs. Jason Butler from Letlive is featured in Wide Eyed and sounds out of place. But it’s a refreshing break in the album.

The Ghost Inside is still one of the better bands lyrically. They’re songs are still melancholy with a glimmer of empowering hopefulness, except a little less hopeful in this album. The overall theme of the album is the difficulty that comes with not giving up and how it will take its toll on you. It’s a darker direction for The Ghost Inside, but not entirely unwelcome. Songs like Out Of Control and The Other Half have distinct messages that are truly appreciated with the overall grimmer tone of Dear Youth. No matter which song you listen to, you can tell it was written from the heart, and is brimming with passion and emotion.

Dear Youth is far from the best album The Ghost inside has ever released, but that’s like complaining about that the world-record holder for the 100-meter dash didn’t live up to his potential when he fails to break the world record again. The Ghost Inside will impress anyone who hasn’t heard of them, but Dear Youth doesn’t live up to its predecessors.

Dear Youth comes out on Nov. 17 and fans will still be able enjoy the music. It just might take some time if you didn’t fall in love with it instantly.