Anyone to have denied themselves the pleasure of listening to Sweden’s heavy/psych/doom/black/epic metal act GHOST is missing out on something truly beautiful, haunting, heavy, and smart. This, their third full length MELORIA, finds the band ever escalating in their songwriting skills, anthemic qualities, and well-told black metal tales. *(Black Metal in this instance being far more akin to a MERCIFUL FATE meets Psychedelic 60’s Garage Rock meets the anthemic thunders of BLACK SABBATH, almost as performed by Doom greats TROUBLE – – – as opposed to the standard MAYHEM or EMPEROR type Black Metal the term is most frequently associated with.) The lyrics have grown even further in their intelligence, prose-like presentation, and Luciferian concepts, as has the band as a whole. There has been a change, as well.
Vocalist Papa Emeritus II has left the band, apparently unable to fulfill his ultimate duties of complete world dominion. He has instead been replaced by Papa Emeritus III, in reality II’s younger brother *(by a mere 3 months). Has this changed their ever evolving sound? But only for the better, if even entirely that noticeable. The change does however bring some interesting new and unique touches, as one would expect. As this album seems to focus on a more romantic side of their strange world of persistent medieval Inquisitions, satanic sexual indulgences, and the very real evils of organized religion (Catholicism in particular), the new Papa III presents his vocal talents as beautifully morose as the music that slithers and explodes about them, like spell-cast snakes of semi-coagulated blood sluicing and intermingling with the tales of lust, magick, pain, and false-prophet religiomadness. Papa III’s are vocals predominantly clean throughout, every last word fully, deliberately decipherable. Of corpse several jabs and stabs are taken at the Catholic Church, but nor do they shy away from having a little fun with their own Satanic fosterings as well.
For those completely uninitiated with this more recent and high ranking act of the current Doom resurgence *(both GHOST and UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS reign supreme in this genre at present, in my critical and jaded opinion), GHOST put out their first release in 2010, titled OPUS EPONYMOUS. It was a completely different and refreshing sound within the ever sagging metal community, and underground music in general. On top of that, they had a great visual image and, dare I say, gimmick, as well. Their vocalist (then Papa Emeritus I) came upon the world in the unforgettable visage of a skeletal pope, surrounded by a league of faceless musical monks, and their performances came off as almost a ritual, that followed directly with the theme of the band, that being the true inverse of Christianity, Satanism. Something to behold *(so I’ve been told, and seen from a couple of youtube clips, though I’ve yet to see them live with mine own eyes).
And they play this gag up to the hilt – – – and it works. Openly admitted to being influenced by ALICE COOPER, PINK FLOYD, and DAVID BOWIE, GHOST pull-out all punches when playing their roles within the band. To the point that no one even knows really WHO exactly is in the band, or does what, as each member has taken on a particular guise of their own personal alchemical symbol, according to Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit, and as musicians refer to themselves as Nameless Ghouls. *(However, it was once rumored that Dave Grohl has performed live with the band as a Nameless Ghoul – – – the same was also said of Grohl about his actually being the voice behind ANDREW WK, which I do not entirely disbelieve.) As I’ve mentioned before, I’m still a sucker for a good gimmick *(hell, every band I played in had one), a performance, something to draw you in. Four bums that do nothing but play listless music and wear flannel and jeans – – – too easy. This is a completely driven and lived concept, musically, visually, philosophically. It challenges and flips the conventions of the archetypes of everything they are associated with: genre/sound expectations, religion, Satan, free will, love *(presented here from a Thelemic point of view almost), and turn it completely on it’s head, much like the cross on the Papa’s Hat.
Apparently they did have difficulty finding vocalists for the astonishing choral arrangements *(that help really push the goth/doom elements of the album in both its lighter and darker moments), as most were staunch Catholics and highly objected to vocalizing for such “subject matter.” For those parts the band had to relocate to Los Angeles and record them in Hollywood. Of corpse it’s in the U.S. they run into these issues. Land of the free, indeed. In fact, in the U.S. their music has been banned from commercial radio stations, sale in chain stores, and even late-night television show appearances. To this, one of the Nameless Ghouls has replied: “Yes, mainstream America is absolutely welcoming us with open legs.” *(To context, his statement was made after the GHOST had been accused of becoming mainstream, which isn’t what I’m hearing here.)
Pick up GHOST’s MELORIA for a psychedelisatanametallic joyride quite unlike anything the metal world has yet to produce. This blend of doom/dark/occultic/haunting/sexy/heavy/own-styled black metal exposes the true beauties of the freedoms of True WIll and Luciferion sensuality in a number of ways few would even think of trying, let alone actually doing, and with full-on success at that. They do remind me at times of the BABYLON WHORES in that respect, but that’s about one of the highest of compliments I personally can give. Funny thing is I first heard GHOST in 2013, through their excellent cover of the ROKY ERICKSON classic “If You Have Ghosts,” a cover so drastically different from any other that I had ever heard, as they truly made it their own and played a beautiful homage to a living legend so long forgotten *(yet now returned, thankfully), in the most fitting of ways.
*(One thing, however – – – at no point did I recognizably hear the Papa’s kazoo – – – go figure).
Buy this album, as well as their previous ones, and give yourself a real treat and check GHOST out live when they hit your town.
Get MELIORA Now – – –
LP/CD/Bundle Packages: http://found.ee/MELIORA
Google Play: http://found.ee/Meliora_GPlay
Vincent Daemon, writer, editor, musician, photgrapher, film/music buff and historian, and rabblerouser, can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vincent.daemon.1 as well as his spontaneously updated blog of writing news and nonsense THE WRITINGS OF A DEPRAVED MIND http://vincentdaemon.blogspot.com/Some of his music can be painfully experienced at http://www.reverbnation.com/vincentdaemonsageofdesire3 His email is firstname.lastname@example.org