Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 15/4
Written by: MIN on 17/02/2017 14:03:17
Ghost is a funny band. Although I’ve seen them plenty of times live and heard their studio material, I’ve always had a hard time really getting into them. It’s not as if their music is hard to digest — quite the opposite, actually. It’s virtually like combining Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult with Abba and Andrew Lloyd Webber. But it wasn’t until recently that I think I really got them - plus, it helps that their newest and third album, “Meliora”, actually is pretty damn good.
From the very beginning, you can almost see the stage: gigantic drapes with a painting of the album’s cover slowly opening in the middle. An ominous mid-1900s inspired horror melody (by the use of a Theremin) creeps up on you just before the drapes fully open, presenting the actual stage. The show is called “Meliora” and features none other than Papa Emeritus in the leading role as Papa Emeritus. Suddenly, five nameless ghouls join on guitars, bass, keys and drums, and we’re ready for take-off in the shape of the mysterious album-opener “Spirit”. I think you get the picture by now, am I right?
It’s not for nothing that I mentioned Andrew Lloyd Webber, creator of such grand musicals as “Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats”, as a comparison earlier. I mean, just listen to the chorus of some of these songs. Emeritus is in no way the best vocalist out there, but man does he know how to lead a harmony on top of well-executed guitar-rumbling and psyched-out keyboard excursions. There’s constantly a narrative in the lyrics, like you’re following a story that takes place in Pandemonium where fiends and hell-spawn demons worship Satan, and whatever song off the record you might be listening to has that special, grandiose theater-vibe.
However, the album probably reaches its climax while at its softest: “He is” is a slow ballad which builds on quiet atmospheres, but if the rest of the band’s material ever reached this high, I’d go as far as to call Ghost underrated. But if you’re not into that kind of stuff, fret not, either — the groovy bass-line of “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” will get you swaying and the haunting Slayer-esque guitars of “Cirice” will have you headbanging. The second half of the album opens up with the rocking “Mummy Dust”, but although the chunky guitars and spacey keyboards bring about a welcome change of pace, the song’s chorus tends to grate my ears with Emeritus’ muffled voice repeating ”(In God we trust) my mummy dussst”. Afterwards, it feels like the album runs low on new ideas. Ghost’s songs aren’t weak, but the remainder of the record feels too predictable. By now, I’ve heard about the prince in hell and Lucifer’s son to the sound of arms-wide-open melodies, bombastic drumming and huge choirs.
Still, “Meliora” is a consistent record — in fact, it’s a great record packed with excellent, smooth production value. It’s well-composed, and if you take one song out of context from the rest of the album, most of them will probably satisfy every fan of the band’s penchant for fun, ghoulish, rock-operatic anthems. Although I’m still not part of this huge cult-like following that the band has garnered, I can definitely see where they’re coming from. “Meliora” is a fun and engaging listen all the way through, and it’ll be exciting to see where the band goes from here.
Download: From the Pinnacle to the Pit, Cirice, He is, Absolution
For the fans of: Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats
Release date 21.08.2015