The hype that Sweden’s Ghost receives is otherworldly. I feel partially responsible for a portion of it, but that is for good reason. Ghost brings a dramatic flair and a refreshing twist to modern, mainstream metal. Their sound calls to a Blue Öyster Cult or Deep Purple with a menacing spin on melodies and instrumentation. What the Swedish sextet also does is masterfully pull off one of the most mysterious acts in all of music. The actual identities of Ghost’s members (Papa Emeritus III and the Nameless Ghouls) have remained unknown, even to the bands they spend weeks on the road with. Each album they introduce a “new” Papa Emeritus and the Nameless Ghouls receive new masks. Ghost’s momentum continues to grow as they continue to amass a cult-level following and their efforts have culminated in what is certainly their best work yet, Meliora.
Ghost’s third full-length album opens on the song, “Spirit”. Which starts with something that sounds like a cross between an old-school horror film and the Doctor Who theme song then rolls immediately into some of Ghost’s heaviest music to date. Meliora turns to “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” next, which is chock-full of bass/lead guitar riffs and an incredibly catchy melody. The third track of the album, “Cirice”, is my favorite. Everything about this track is menacing and infectious. It finds its way to the frontal cortex and firmly roots itself deep into the sulci where it forces you to repeatedly sing the song to yourself or to any unsuspecting people in your vicinity.
Meliora continues on a metal roller coaster through Papa Emeritus III’s sinister world. Instrumental interlude, “Spöksonat”, ballad-esque “He Is”, and the progressive-tinged “Mummy Dust” bring the listener into the clouds and then jarringly dump them back to the Earth. “Majesty” epitomizes Ghost’s influences from classic rock bands like the aforementioned Deep Purple, with an opening riff that teleports the listener directly to the 1970’s (ruled by Papa, of course).
The organ and choir of “Devil Church” act as the set-up for the utterly hellraising “Absolution” (a close second favorite to “Cirice” for me). Easily one of Ghost’s greatest tracks, this song embodies the eeriness and evil that they have been crafting since 2008. The concluding track, “Deus in Absentia” is a very fitting end to a magnificent album. The echoes of ominous clock in the background juxtaposed to the melancholic choir and the soaring vocals and rhythm of the band creates a fiery ending to Meliora.
The word “Meliora” translates from Latin to English as “in pursuit of something better” and as Ghost have grown in both musical ability and fanfare, their newest album certainly lives up to its translation. Ghost have written an album that will be remembered for decades to come. Meliora is a heavy, dramatic, and melodic epic marking the reign of Papa Emeritus III and Ghost’s position as one of the most inventive and unique bands in recent years. Meliora officially arrives tomorrow through Loma Vista Recordings.