Rebelmatic – Ghost in the Shadows

Review of Rebelmatic Ghost in the Shadows by Steven Farkas

Steven Farkas

My post contentNYC punks Rebelmatic span so many NYC music scenes and nothing demonstrates their varied backgrounds and influences more than some of illustrious names they have shared a stage and collaborated with; Chuck D, Africa Bambaataa, Onyx, Death, Trash Talk and Jada Pinkett Smiths’ Wicked Wisdom.

Amongst their ever-growing list of admirers is Fishbone’s Angelo Moore (who the band toured with last year) and punk icon HR has also namechecked the band when asked about any modern-day bands that evoke the spirit of Bad Brains. So, with a burgeoning legion of fans and an incredibly wide range of influences, what does this mean for their sound? In a word, its killer. At heart, Rebelmatic are a hardcore punk band, and with all members being black, they have more reason than anyone to be pissed off with the current state of the world. The whole record clocks in at less than half an hour, but what an impact it makes in that time.

The opening lyric “Emmit Till died for your sins”* (*Emmit Till was a black 14 year old who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955) sets the tone for the next 24 minutes. Their hip hop heritage comes through in the lyrical flow, seamlessly dancing amongst the heavy riffs from (guitarist) Alkatraz and the bludgeoning bottom end from bass player Karnage and Ramsey Jones’ drums.

The social injustice of the modern world is a consistent theme throughout, and probably best illustrated in Insult to Injury, effortlessly moving from the fear and uncertainty felt by the black community with “Ive been chased by ghosts in the fucking night, the spirit said, boy you better stand and fight to climate change “God, what have they done to your earth”. The single was originally intended to drop later this year, but was brought forward due to the massive wave of protests that broke out (and continue) following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Other highlights include the thrash crossover-esque Pinky Promise and the straight up hardcore anthem Blood and Gold, either one of which could and probably should soundtrack the marches for social change across the world. For me, where the band really shine though is with Avengers, a blend of NJ emo punk and Lights…Camera…Revolution! – era Suicidal Tendencies that has no right to be as great as it is. The slightly restrained vocal, killer melody and hooks galore means this one will be stuck in your head for days.

Socially charged political punk isn’t anything new, but the genuine anger and honesty that underpin everything across Ghost in the Shadows elevates Rebelmatic well beyond the mundane.

Orginally Posted by Steven Farkas

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