Release Date: Aug 21, 2015
Record label: Loma Vista Recordings
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Pop-Metal, Goth Metal, Symphonic Metal
Review Summary: Oscillating between '70s and '80s AOR and pop-progressive flair, Ghost continue to carve their genre-bending niche with their strongest album to date.Ghost's occult ethos is akin to the spectacle of World Wrestling Entertainment. There are several parallels: the carnival-like grandeur, the over-the-top gimmicks cranked to eleven, the suspension of disbelief for the sake of storytelling, and the exuberant extravagance all coalesce into an enthralling theatrical performance. Although I don't want to fixate on the aesthetics as much - as some publications have been wont to do with Ghost - it's nevertheless important to provide some context into Meliora, the band's third offering.
Ghost have been a somewhat controversial figure within contemporary metal since their first record Opus Eponymous manifested into public consciousness back in 2010. After everything that has been said about that stunning record since its release, let me make one thing abundantly clear: Opus Eponymous is a 21st century classic. Ghost’s debut was a spooky, Mercyful Fate-worshipping carnival ride populated by the catchiest songs this side of Iron Maiden.
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I haven’t sacrificed a goat in years, committed any heinous crimes, and, this is the hardest part, I didn’t really get into the last two Ghost albums. I know that as a metalhead I have failed you. But I am repenting with Meliora. Ghost’s strange presence ….
Having exceeded the wildest expectations, Sweden’s most celebrated merchants of modern occult rock find themselves three albums in and on the cusp of a minor mainstream breakthrough. Opinion on their last album, Infestissumam, was cleanly divided between those who adored its enhanced theatrical ambitions and those who missed the succinct thud of 2010’s Opus Eponymous. Led by the eerily detached proclamations of third vocal incumbent Papa Emeritus III, Meliora strikes a shrewd balance between its two predecessors, snappier song structures moderating the intrusive impact of the band’s most unhinged ideas.
Swedish shades Ghost have a truly rare sense of theatricality. Identities carefully concealed behind elaborate costumes and personas, their stage show greatly enhances the ritualistic aspect of their infernal occult rock aesthetic. With so much delighted pomp and circumstance at the fore of their creative process and performative style, it can be easy to question whether Ghost are substantial or merely artful ectoplasm.Their third record and strongest since their debut, Meliora does an excellent job of putting those doubts to rest.
Meliora, the third long-player by Sweden's Ghost, looks back at what made their 2011 debut, Opus Eponymous, so special: Beautifully written, hook-laden, hard rock songs with clean (and even serene) singing. Produced by pop-heavy hitter Klas Åhlund (Usher, Katy Perry, Madonna) and mixed by Andy Wallace (Slayer, Rob Zombie, Sepultura), Meliora is a calculated step into accessibility, and offers a clear window into the band's collective career ambitions. Their anonymous, cowled and masked monk costumes and the skull-faced, anti-Papal dress of their frontman Papa Emeritus III (same guy as Papa Emeritus I and II), who delivers lyrics of unabashed, worshipful Satanism, however, are their only links to black metal.
Occult rockers conjure up devilishly fine third album. It would be a great shame if one were to look at Ghost, with their metallic masks and tailored uniforms, their Nameless Ghouls and succession of skeletal ‘Evil Pope’ front things, and dismiss the Swedes as a mere gimmick, a joke..
The engimatic Swedish band Ghost (briefly known as Ghost B.C.) are in an odd place in the metal world right now. They're maybe the only modern metal band to earn accolades from both Darkthrone's Fenriz (one of their earliest supporters as a part of his "Band of the Week" feature) and Dave Grohl (who has played with them live and produced their covers EP If You Have Ghost). Ghost's main appeal is not only their throwback sound, but also their presentation, which combines black metal's anonymity with a theatrical, sometimes silly macabre bent only slightly removed from King Diamond.
At this stage of their existence, Ghost have become engrained in contemporary heavy metal culture. Emerging in 2010 with their debut, released through Rise Above and titled Opus Eponymous, the cloaked troupe, led by the masked pontiff known as Papa Emeritus I, reminded us that metal was originally all about mystery and escapism. With Alice Cooper-esque pageantry, faux-Satanic imagery, and an unabashed love for proto-metal and catchy pop hooks, Ghost stood out in a scene that had become all too serious – a scene too focused on technical chops rather than strong songwriting and engaging old-school entertainment values.