I remember when I first listened to Ghost. Or Ghost B.C. depending on where in the world you are. After years of avoiding them, I finally listened to Secular Haze off of their Infestissumam album, and realized they sounded nothing like I thought they’d sound like. Then I listened to the song Ritual from their debut Opus Eponymous and realized that I may actually like them. I’ve grown to appreciate their gimmick, such as the singer change they have before every new album, Papa Emeritus for their debut, then Papa Emeritus II for Infestissumam and now Papa Emeritus III for their recently released album Meliora (the topic of this review) yet all three of these singers seem to have the exact same voice.
Anonymity helps I suppose, I’m sure it’s fun for Papa Emeritus III and the Nameless Ghouls, whatever their real identities are. I particularly like how they don’t carry the gimmick in to interviews. They still keep their identities a secret, but unlike Steel Panther who seldom answer questions seriously in interviews, Ghost act like regular humans and not like ghouls (while giving some nods to the gimmick) in all of the interviews I’ve seen, which makes me respect them all the more.
So getting on to their new album Meliora. If you’ve listened to Ghost before, you’d know their sound. Despite their scary appearance, they have a very traditional metal sound, which I’d classify as doom metal. Those fans are in for a similar style of album, but with twists and turns around many corners. Opening track Spirit has that traditional heavy metal sound to it, but starts off like a classic horror movie. The traditional heavy metal sound carries on to From The Pinnacle To The Pit, which has a pretty simple yet unforgettable guitar solo. My personal favourite track is Mummy Dust, which is a little more intense than your average Ghost song, including Papa Emeritus III‘s vocals, which are still as clean and clear as on any song on the album (and like all the Papa Emeritus’s before him) but with a little added scare tactic to his delivery, almost whispering the lyrics.
The Ghoul Writer who writes for Ghost upped their game this time around, with some epic tunes like the six-minute Cirice, and the closing track Deus In Absentia. The former of the two is filled with doomy rhythms that shift to soft piano driven moments that add texture to the song and Meliora as a whole. The closing track creates the image that it’s being sung in a heavy metal church, and it does so pretty well, being subtly symphonic (no symphony needed) and completed with a church choir singing to their doom to end the track and album.
He Is has some great harmonies. A Nameless Ghoul once said during an interview that The Beach Boys are a big influence on Ghost. The fact that they’d acknowledge that put them up a few notches in my book, and that influence is present here, as well as every song when they have that big chorus of harmonized vocals singing all at once, but none of the songs show that influence and that skill the way Ghost show it on He Is.
Ghost remain a step ahead of a lot of modern metal bands, and they’ve gained a lot of respect playing their diverse brand of doom metal. The church of heavy metal sound that they go for is ever present on just about every track of all three of their albums, and they continue to grow. Meliora is a big step forward, in writing and performing. Songs like Absolution, Majesty and Cirice, to name a few, wouldn’t sound the same if any other band performed them.
“Absolution” – This wasn’t an easy choice, but in the end I picked Absolution because it’s one of the more catchy tunes on Meliora and it has something for old and new listeners to love and discover.
8 (Out of 10)
|2.||“From the Pinnacle to the Pit”||4:02|
|10.||“Deus in Absentia”||5:37|