Ghost - Meliora [Occult Rock]
Ghost have returned with their third album. Having followed them since their debut Opus Eponymous, I'm happy to say that this third album is a great mix of the more metal-tinged debut and their ABBA-influenced sophomore record, Infestissumam. In fact, I will go on a limp and say that this is the best album from Ghost yet.
Getting production out of the way first, the sound is overly compressed as usual, but the mix is actually pretty good. Bass is super thick and punchy, synth is subtle and layered without being too overly cheesy (as was in Infestissumam), the drums are actually pretty loud and thunderous without being too overly aggressive. The band is still incredibly accessible, this is metal / rock that even the radio-listening layman would find himself humming along too.
There is almost no bad song on the album. Some tracks do feel weak, especially when coming up after relatively stronger tracks like "He Is" and "Absolution", but this is subjective since my favourite tracks on this album seems to differ greatly from what the fans seem to love. The track "Mummy Dust" for example, is commonly cited as one of the best songs on the album, along with closer "Deus In Absentia". However I found the preceding tracks, "He Is" and "Absolution" to be the better tracks on this album. There isn't much to break down here, because Ghost's biggest draw is their simplicity. True, the costumes and theatrics are the gimmicks that draw people to their music in the first place. but their songs are truly no-bullshit anthems. Thumpy bass, gigantic choruses with great hooks on the aforementioned two tracks and many more; "From The Pinnacle To The Pit", "Cirice" and "Majesty" contain great sing-along choruses. The album has two short instrumentals, "Spoksonat" and "Devil Church". These two instrumentals aren't filler at all, and actually do create some depth and atmosphere for their succeeding tracks.
I want to draw further attention to the track "He Is". The acoustic guitars and piano aren't exactly new additions to the band's arsenal, but the song is quite possibly the best song on the album. It's a passionately written hymn to Dīs Pater, the Roman God of the underworld (more than likely an allusion to Lucifer). It's similar to the track "Monstrance Clock" off Infestissumam, it's tender and deeply melodic, and parodies Christian gospel songs. What makes Ghost different from the other metal bands is their earnestness in these odes, without trying to mock Christians. This sort of genuine adoration for Luciferianism has been missing from the scene, with most bands interpreting Luciferianism as a direct confrontation of Christianity. I was personally blown away by the track, there is nothing technical in the instruments or the writing. It's just a love letter to Lucifer, and that's why I have always found this band refreshing.
That's rare, a widely hyped band releasing a widely hyped album that actually lives up. Hail Satan.
Rating: 4.5 / 5