Monday, 7 September 2015

Album Reviews; Ghost - Meliora

Released Via Loma Vista Recordings
Genre: Progressive Rock/Heavy Metal

Track Listing:

1. Spirit
2. From The Pinnacle To The Pit
3. Cirice
4. Spoksonat
5. He Is
6. Mummy Dust
7. Majesty
8. Devil Church
9. Absolution
10. Deus In Absentia

The Satanic shtick of Ghost has gotten them a lot of fans, as has their Occult Rock/Metal music that has long been described as a hybrid of Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. Their second album 'Infestissumam' built upon the blueprint set down by the debut 'Opus Eponymous' by expanding their sound into something more immediate, with tinges of the psychedelic and the progressive to it. As it happens, this is something that the band has chosen to build upon further with 'Meliora'.

The opening seconds of 'Spirit' set us up for Ghost's creepy yet camp theatricality before the song has the kind of ring that would suggest the opening of a grand rock opera. Mysterious robed frontman Papa Emeritus III gives a great and enticing vocal performance from the start and already you can feel your allegiance being realigned towards Ghost once more as the song ends with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe. 'From The Pinnacle To The Pit' kicks in with the dirtiest and grooviest bass line I've heard this year before the simple and hypnotically repetitive song slices with sharp lyrics and a feel that is somewhat more in line with 'Infestissumam' at its more straightforward moments. Throw in some great bluesy soloing and you have another great Ghost song.

The flagship for the new record is clearly 'Cirice', which is easily the heaviest, most addictive and ultimately the best song that Ghost have written thus far. The riff, the lyrics, the flow and the structuring of the song are all damn-near perfect. After you've played that song on repeat a few hundred times, you'll go into 'Spoksonat', a short intermission track that leads you onwards to 'He Is', an acoustically led ballad that sounds almost like an ode of worship intended for the ears of Papa Emeritus III. Or Satan, of course. Either way, the song works surprisingly well even though it sounds as if it belongs just as much on a West End stage as it does a Metal Festival stage. It's huge, with great, uplifting harmonies that are a more-than-welcome surprise on this record.

If the song you just heard was Yang, then 'Mummy Dust' is Yin. Painting an eerie picture that would suggest the more sinister nature of Ghost as the purveyors of the darker side of the duality. A scathing beat and muted rhythm keep this song afloat while Papa tells us in more demonic tones of his true intentions for the world.

Musically, there is still much of the keyboard interplay that grants this album some of the psychedelic power that its predecessor had, though in more of a way that compliments the rest of the band's sound as opposed to overpowering it. There's still the campiness and there is also still the grandeur. The band are still larger than life, as has been shown in various interviews which have described 'Meliora' as being an exploration of a future where the band's frontman character rules a dystopian city or that the album is about our messed-up idea of happiness, and even about the darkness and evil in the modern idea/illusion of freedom. In this multi-layered manner combined with the aforementioned theatricality, this album can remind one of a cross between Rush's '2112' and 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'. As strange as that may seem, I guarantee you'll get lost in the bizarre world that is 'Meliora'.

It's the best thing Ghost have given us so far. Be sure to convert others to the cause.

Rating: 9/10


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