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Swedish occult rock band Ghost created quite some frenzy three years ago when they released their first strike Opus Eponymous with many catchy tracks somewhere between Mercyful Fate and Blue Öyster Cult. Their satanic lyrics and mysterious images with anonymous band members, led by a mystic singer called Papa Emeritus I, had intrigued many rock fans of all ages and kinds. These days, the band from Linköping is back with a second output entitled Infestissumam, has changed their name to Ghost B.C., and replaced Papa Emeritus I with Papa Emeritus II – but they are clearly the same vocalist, which listeners will quickly recognize.
The band didn’t change its formula one bit. Those who liked the debut record should absolutely get this release as well. Those who think the band is unoriginal and bland won’t have any new reasons to like this record more than the debut. There are, however, a few minimal changes. The songwriting has become a bit more epic and progressive at some points. “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” is an atmospheric, catchy, epic, progressive, and killer track that clocks at far over seven minutes and never gets boring. In my opinion, this song is the best tune the band has written so far in its career. It’s only slightly superior to the relaxing album closer “Monstrance Clock”, which includes haunting organ sounds and epic chants that lead to a gripping grande finale.
On the other side, the record includes less obvious potential single choices. There are a few catchy songs on here like the circus music inspired “Secular Haze” that reminds me of a mixture of King Diamond and Eden Weint Im Grab and the dark and enchanting “Year Zero” that is danceable and psychedelic at the same time and could come directly from a horror movie score developed by a Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd partnership. The songs have their strengths but despite being the two leading singles, they are not as overtly addicting as “Ritual” or “Elizabeth” from the debut release for example.
Even though one or two weaker tracks like the sleepy “Body And Blood” can be found on this release, it is, in my humble opinion, superior to the debut record overall. The song writing has become more diversified and professional, and though the band is still very much inspired by many occult rock bands of the seventies, they’ve started to add their own touch to it. Many people thought that this band was some sort of a one hit wonder or temporary phenomenon. It isn’t, as this second strike proves those critics wrong. This is one of the rare exceptions where a general hype is at least slightly justified. If you’re able to get over their questionable satanic image, you will discover many addicting songs that you won’t get out of your mind anytime soon. I’m Christian. but this is like watching a great old horror movie – it’s atmospheric and entertaining but you shouldn’t take the image and story all too seriously. So don’t hesitate to grab this record and literally enjoy the hell out of it.
Originally written for Black Wind Metal
My initial feelings on this album were a little mixed. I didn’t dislike it, but I felt that it was a slight disappointment. However, since then, I’ve allowed this album to grow on me to the point where I may actually enjoy it better than the debut in some respects. And while I criticized Ghost for not taking many risks on the debut and staying too consistent, the band has decided to try some new ideas on this album.
Of course, the classic rock/early metal throwback style isn’t gone at all, in fact Infestissumam/Per Aspera Ad Inferi are a great offering in that style to start the album, and Year Zero is a fun, catchy song that works as far as a single, but the album definitely puts in some new ideas and twists, while keeping the core of the music the throwback style that made their first album so catchy.
Secular Haze merges the throwback style with a carnival sounding synth riff, because everyone is terrified of carnivals somewhere deep inside right? And Ghuleh/Zombie Queen starts off as a beautiful piano piece, which goes into an almost surf-rock song about halfway through. It’s a strange sounding idea, but in my opinion, a major highlight of the album. And Monstrance Clock is a dark, somewhat brooding, baldly song, full of great sing-along chants and church organs. It’s one of the bands coolest ideas yet.
Unfortunately, not every experiment is a success. Jigalo Har Megiddo is a little too poppy in my opinion. Idolatrine is similarly poppy, but does it about a hundred times better.
Another thing that might be against the album’s favor is its running time. The shortest version is almost an hour, and I have 3 bonus tracks after that. The debut was an easily digestible half an hour, whereas an hour of throwback music, new ideas or not, might be a bit too much for one sitting. The longer the album, the more obvious the stale ideas are, and the more highlighted the good bits are. Maybe a few songs would have better been saved for the third album.
Before wrapping up, I want to touch on the overall production of the album. Usually, I avoid this unless the production is notably bad, because I’m just not one to harp on production. Either it works or it doesn’t for me, but in this case I feel like the production is a decent step up from their debut. Papa Emeritus’ voice seems better displayed, whereas on the debut the higher notes felt too light and airy. I still feel like he has more power in it live, but this sounds like a step up. The overall sound seems more powerful. It still doesn’t compromise its throwback sound, but it doesn’t sound as caught up in the past as the debut.
To be absolutely honest, I can understand why this album overall didn’t seem quite as well received as the debut. It wasn’t quite as catchy or memorable. But I definitely respect the fact they tried a few new ideas here. A few songs seem to imply Ghost is burnt out of simple, catchy poppy ideas, but when they try something new, like Ghuleh/Zombie Queen and Monstrance Clock they more than make up for it.
If you have the bonus tracks, I gotta say that I’m a Marionette and Waiting for the Night are both very cool covers, but La Mantra Mori is total bonus track material. Fun to have, but you aren’t missing anything essential at all.
By the time I wrote a review for Opus Eponymous, I couldn't stop listening to it. With time, it became just another flawless album to enter my "favourite" folder. Now, after I listened to this awesome release and saw them perform live in their great gig in Rock in Rio, I feel almost forced to write about how good Infestissumam came out.
Just like Opus Eponymous, the album starts with a good intro, which is "Infestissumam". This time, the harmony of this serene Latin choir is broken abruptly by their instruments, in the end, breaking into their first song, "Per Aspera ad Inferi". From this darkly ethereal song, we can already realise how the following songs will sound like.
In Infestissumam, Ghost didn't open hand from their groovy and well articulated rock like we saw in their debut. However, we can clearly see some new style there. They focus more on the riffs, building a livelier sound for themselves, relying less on atmosphere. It's closer to hard rock than their old psychedelic rhythm we had listened to. Also, the remarkable use of choirs and the softer keys make the band sound somehow more "erudite" than they did before. This combination of nostalgic pop/rock, erudition and heaviness made this album pretty unique, and, as a result on gigs, the difference between new and old songs was pretty clear. However, some songs were still very entrancing in their own ways, such as "Secular Haze" and "Ghuleh / Zombie Queen".
Their guitars are still pretty good, with all these good riffs and alternations they kept, however, with less soloing. The keyboards are very important to the song structure overall, making a good base, which is probably the reason why we may miss their bass doodles sometimes. This may relate to these new vibes from the eighties they're going into. About Pope Emeritus II, it's clear that he is way more lyrical than the previous alter-ego of the vocalist, Pope Emeritus, was. His voice is smooth and technical, going pretty well, despite the lack of change on it.
I think the only contra for this album is this lack of change I've mentioned about the vocals, but applied overall. Their psychedelic grooves sound great, and their songs are all awesome and great listens themselves, but the piece, overall, doesn't show much difference between tracks, which are, individually, flawless. It doesn't come to the point of being boring, but this could have been more touchy.
As for the lyrics, they all sound strong and carry dramatic style. Even though they're pure theatre, the band does know how to write about darkness, anti-Christianity and occultism, so, there's nothing bad to say. On this particular album, the theme was "the reign of the Antichrist", while Opus Eponymous was about him "coming and rising". I actually pointed out, on a previous review, there might be some kind of suggestion on the melody and name of their outro "Genesis". This album has no outro, but well, should we expect something off the last song "Monstrance Clock", which pictures people going to a Black Mass in favour of the Antichrist? I can't guess, but it would be pretty interesting to continue this line they've been tracing.
Despite their overall changes, it's clear that Ghost have kept what made them get their highlights: theatrality, nostalgic rock and a very bright sound.
Ghost‘s debut Opus Eponymous in 2010 took the metal world by storm, with the throwback to 60s and 70s rock and the occult theme and the album somewhat single-handedly bringing occult rock to the fore again, popularising the genre that has been brewing underground over the years once more. With the amount of hype that Opus Eponymous was getting, it would certainly take quite a bit for Ghost to top that release and to meet the high expectations that Ghost fans now have.
When the first track of Infestissumam, Secular Haze was released, reactions were rather mixed, and I for one did not really like how it sounded, finding the sound and direction that Ghost were going for too cheesy, with the band simply riding on the hype that they had created. Fast forward four months later, Infestissumam has now become one of my favourite records for the year so far, and Ghost have indeed proven themselves to be more than capable musicians and songwriters on Infestissumam.
The calming, rather soothing sound that Ghost had laid down on their debut Opus Eponymous is still present on Infestissumam, and this is precisely what makes Ghost such an enchanting band: the fusing of such soothing melodies with occult, anti-Christian lyrics. Papa Emeritus II’s (after the departure of Papa Emeritus) characteristic light vocals are still present, and the way he delivers the lyrics are extremely charming, and can easily put one into a dreamy state of trance. Instrumentally as well, the Nameless Ghouls further explore and display their playing styles, and while there is nothing particularly overly technical of the playing of each of the instruments, like on Opus Eponymous, each of the instruments, each note, each hit on the drums go towards reinforcing the overall atmosphere and mood on the album. Just listen to tracks like Secular Haze and Ghuleh/Zombie Queen and not feel anything at all.
And so how is this different from Opus Eponymous and what makes Infestissumam such an enjoyable release? To be honest, there aren’t exactly “single”-worthy tracks such as Elizabeth and Ritual on Infestissumam, and I think that this is precisely the direction that the band wanted to head towards on Infestissumam. Rather than a collection of individual standout tracks like on Opus Eponymous, listening to single Infestissumam tracks alone would easily cause one to dislike this album. On Infestissumam, Ghost has instead written the album such that it flows nicely, with the nice buildup from the opening introductory track to Jigolo Har Megiddo, before that rather chill out, yet haunting track Ghuleh/Zombie Queen and ending off with that soothing Monstrance Clock. It sounds as though each of the tracks were placed in their positions with much deliberation and intention, making Infestissumam an album that one has to enjoy in a single sitting, rather than looking out for standout tracks.
Ghost’s sophomore album Infestissumam shows a new, fresh side of Ghost. It is far from their heavy, satanic and doomy debut Opus. It shows the band progressing with more budget and time to spend in the studio. They really deliver a diverse set of music and they show how their influences have grown. Some are bad (circus music Secular Haze) and some are good (surf rock on Ghuleh/Zombie Queen) Still we get a solid and different approach from Ghost overall. While Opus Eponymous can be categorized as doom/heavy metal, Infestissumam is much more varied. Ghost grows before our very eyes with this release and distances themselves from Opus in many ways.
If you listen to this album with an open mind and you are not expecting Opus #2, this is an enjoyable album. We get choir passages, groovy surf rock, catchy hooks and choruses along with a few heavy riffs. This album is not guitar and bass oriented like Opus but it the keyboards and the vocals really drive the album from start to finish. If you need an example check out Secular Haze with the much maligned circus style keyboarding. There is nothing on the album that hits hard with a riff and they are often watered down in the mix unfortunately. That is one of my major gripes with the album as it truly fails to deliver a hard hitting and memorable riff.
Luckily there are plenty of catchy pieces that will stick. The most memorable moment for me is found within the song Body and Blood. The Receive, Consume, Digest, Defecate whisper portion is absolutely unforgettable. Also the aforementioned Ghuleh/ Zombie Queen are a truly epic song. One last memorable portion is the album closer and live show closer Monstrance clock. The sexual innuendo and sing along about Satan is absolutely brilliant.
Infestissumam may be an album you cannot say out loud of spell correctly, but it is certainly a good album. It shows that Ghost is growing and is not afraid to let their influences guide them to higher ground. This album sounds like an album from The Doors combined with satanic themes. I can see why this album is not for a lot of metal heads because there is not a lot of actual heavy metal to be found. It is more like prototype metal or hard rock with a lot of psychedelic influences. Ghost is a very unique band with a lot to offer if you give the music a chance. They shed the music from Opus Eponymous and delivered a whole new bag of tricks with this album. The risk certainly paid off for Ghost as they continue their musical journey for Satan. They are no longer a gimmick band, Ghost is here to stay. Come together, together as one. Come together, for Lucifer’s son.
And here we have it fellow metal brothers and sisters, the latest in hipstercore, Ghost’s long awaited sophomore long-play: Infestissumam. I actually enjoyed their debut, though found it nowhere near as fantastic and groundbreaking as some of my friends and a great deal of the international metal community claimed it to be. The inherent catchiness and freshness of Opus Eponymous can’t be denied, though it’s definitely not the 8th Wonder of the World and I totally understand that not everybody loved it. So a part of me wanted the sophomore to succeed and surpass its precursor. That would have been the perfect way for me to stop scratching my scalp and finally understand and accept Ghost’s status as one of the most beloved and championed metal bands of late. Unfortunately, things turned out to be the way my logic had anticipated.
In their short but successful career, Ghost’s musical quality has diminished as fast as a punctured air-filled balloon. Their mysterious image is no longer a novelty, at least for the serious music fan, so the focus of interest rests solely on their brand of retro-doom metal mixed with 70’s pop aesthetics, which sadly has lost its charm. Musically, they’re out of tricks now, as mediocrity rears its ugly head, though they still rely on image to fetch attention. The cover is either a homage or a metal adaptation of Peter Sís’ poster design for the 1984 Miloš Forman’s Amadeus movie, though this record comes nowhere as near as iconic or compelling as that film… or the poster itself. I actually prefer the “controversial” booklet illustrations made by Zbignew Bielak II. They’re pretty amazing and it’s shame they got censored. Unfortunately, as everybody knows, good cover art and design doesn’t automatically mean that the music will possess the same excellence. This case staunchly confirms that assertion.
Another incorrect assumption is that the more material, the merrier the listener. Well, just look at the more recent work from Metallica, Maiden or Exodus, and you tell me dear metal brother or sister. Infestissumam’s only 50 minutes long, but it’s like an endurance test, and I just couldn’t make it. Those yawns kept coming, and by the time the album ended, my jaws ached. It seems all the good riffs were hoarded by the greedy debut, leaving virtually none for its newest sibling, which can only cry in frustration as loud as possible for the denial of quality. I honestly didn’t found a single song here that grabbed my attention throughout its entirety. Add to that the elongated durations of tracks whose musical ideas are as complex and varied as a two-minute tune by The Ramones, and you’ve got yourself a helluva looser. Damn, even the short title-track intro seems overlong.
Ghost’s sophomore proves that these guys just want to tap on their established formula, and have no real musical ambition. There’s no growth, no evolution and no sophistication. Most songs remain in slow to mid-tempo, but unlike good doom metal, there’s nothing remotely heavy or interesting to be found in them. The riffs are plain boring, they’re not even good Tony Iommi rip-offs. In comparison, Orchid’s latest sounds like a masterpiece, and so does Ghost’s own debut. The guitar tone is one of the blandest I’ve heard in a “metal” record. There’s no weight, no flavor. The keyboards are varied, but they never go beyond providing unimpressive poppish melodies or the 50’s horror movie sounding organs. That said, they’re usually more interesting than the guitars. Bass and drums just linger there, audible but ball-less. And finally, we have Pope Emeritus retro-vocals. They’re ok, and they still work fine in some choruses, but by the fifth track they start to become tiresome. The guy uses the same register and intonation the whole time, which makes me think people that compare Ghost to Mercyful Fate or King Diamond must have been dropped when they were babies.
Amidst all the wasted space, there’re some catchy moments, like the chorus of “Body and Blood”, bits of “Zombie Queen” and the least bad of the bunch, in my humble opinon, “Idolatrine”, which has the best vocal parts of the whole album. And to be fair, the church-like choral parts are also enticing to a degree. Fleeting moments of what could have been, not what it is. Why this album has made it to many “mid of the year - Best Of” lists (and probably will also appear in many “Best of the year” lists) is beyond me. The only explanation is that this band is backed by hordes of “metal” fans… or should I say, hipsters, which just want to see their trendy new favorite band at festivals and backing up the big names of the scene. I do enjoy a great deal of retro bands, from different styles, ranging from Havok to Jess and the Ancient Ones, from Enforcer to Zombiefication. There are other examples out there in which the music is compelling despite lacking originality or being merely revivalist. Ghost certainly aren’t the worse insult to real metal ever, but Infestissumam is for sure one of the most hyped albums of our time, bringing nearly nothing to the table, its reputation contrasting with its actual quality like day and night.
While both Ghost's (now Ghost B.C. in America due to legal issues) albums have been hyped to death, there is a big difference between them. Although the first one was basically not much more than a well done throwback, it got the job done. Their schtick was a bit silly, but it fit in with the music and the songs were still enjoyable. On their sophomore, however, their gimmick has gone from a side attraction to the main event. Without all the hype, largely generated from aggressive marketing schemes, it seems doubtful that many would care about this. Now riding mostly on their schtick, the music has suffered from a sharp downward spiral into the stale pits of tedium.
They fervently push marketing ploys detached from the music itself – the hidden identities, a 16th Century orgy in the artwork that some publishers refused to print, the whole Papa Emertius II for pope shenanigans and most recently a dildo and butt plug set. Now the sex toys could have been a humorous little aside if they still had the music to back it up, but at this point they don't appear to have many good songs left in them, so they're really just trying to push a supposedly edgy and dangerous image. Who are they trying to appear edgy to – thirteen year olds just getting into heavy music? Concerned parents? The band has admitted to handing out bribes in order to ensure their anonymity, but does anyone really care who the nameless ghouls are anymore? Everyone already knows that the frontman is almost certainty Tobias Forge (Mary Goore) of Repugnant fame. There is nothing wrong with having a schtick if you have the music to carry it. At this point Ghost really don't.
For their major label debut Ghost headed down to Nashville, joking that it was appropriate to go to a capital of commercial and religious music for their “sell out” record. The band admitted that they were in a hurry to pump out a new album so that they'd have more live material to work with. Unsurprisingly, this does feel rushed. Filler makes up at least half of this release, and everything but one song isn't really all that great. While no one in their right mind could accuse their debut album of being a beacon of heaviness or unrelenting intensity, it still could be considered metal, even if closer to the rock side than most. Infestissumam is basically a bubblegum occult rock album. The pop sensibilities have no problem making their presence known. However, it lacks what makes a pop album successful – being continuously catchy and fun to listen to. Sure they have a catchy chorus here and a nice melody there, but as a whole this is thoroughly boring.
The first single released was “Secular Haze”, one of the worst tracks on the album. The carnivalesque organs are annoying, the riffs benign and the songwriting bland. The second single, “Year Zero” is alright, though nothing spectacular. The one triumph of this album was not released as a single. “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” is really the only song worth coming back to. The first half is some of the softest material on the album and also the most potent. The surf(esque) melodies and infectious chorus of the second half are also quite enjoyable. The second half of the album is generally better than the first, with “Body and Blood”, “Idolatrine” and “Monstrance Clock” all having solid choruses. The mock church chorus at the end of the album is a nice end to a mediocre release.
For all the hype this has generated, it's pretty damn unmemorable. If we take away the costumes, sex toys and endless marketing gimmicks what do we have? Not a hell of a lot. This not much more than watered down poppy occult-tinged rock album. It's not outright horrible or unlistenable - in fact for the most part it's vaguely pleasant - it's just really uneventful. This has the same problem as much of the pop music that is famous today – image is put before content. They can't hide weak music behind gimmicks forever. If they continue down this route, it is not hard to imagine that their third album will be comprised exclusively of filler.
Originally written for The Metal Observer.
Okay, color me corrected.
I was one of the people calling out for Ghost to come off the pedestal the hipsters and wagon-jumpers put them atop in some mock subservience to this antiquated sound making a surprising comeback in recent years. The debut in Opus Eponymous was, by all accounts, quite well done in its satanic simplicity, but I did agree with many that it was vastly overrated in many spots. While very engaging in said spots (especially in the raw demo form I hail), it wasn't, in my eyes, this magical piece of musical brilliance. That brings me to the bass-heavy Infestissumam, which is a few good leaps above the debut in both style and presentation. I must be honest and say I do quite enjoy this sophomore effort and have my fork at the ready for massive amounts of crow.
The initial single and its carnival music caused not only rolled my eyes but settled a staunch and ridiculous refusal to even bother with Ghost B.C. after that little foray into the Ringling Brothers area. That aside, along with my insipid opinions, the musical styling on this album is really...fun. I'm not sure Ghost B.C. wants to be taken so seriously, and if they don't it certainly doesn't show in the assemblage of well-crafted, evenly assembled songs herein. They don't go for broke by creating half-assed music to a salivating public still reeling from the first album. This record is a basic foray into parts recently tapped that covets and surpasses its template.
From the very onset, “Per Aspera Ad Inferi” is an impressive jaunt into 1970's progressive rock that adds a sinister feel to an almost carefree aura surrounding the album. Yes, the comparisons with Ghost B.C. and varying 70's masters have been both interesting and widely dramatized over the last 24-months or so, but there is a very strong feel of brilliance masked within the long robes of these guys. With the album moving along nicely and with a severely entertaining pace, the track “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” slows down the tempo a bit and offers a somber entry into a peaceful respite, only to speed up and hear that Hammond organ sound tap into the room in a warm and welcome embrace. If I concentrate hard enough, I can almost hear slight Ventures influences in the song, a definite surf-like vibe masked in a malevolent tone that isn't easily shaken. I found myself really enjoying the album up to this point.
When “Year Zero” kicked in, the first thought that ran through my mind was the score from the first Omen movie back in 1976. Granted, it's no Jerry Goldsmith piece of orchestral majesty, but the feeling of dismal devilry is apparent and drenches the music oh-so perfectly. The basic galloping riff with the calls to ancient names of evil entities make this one of the best tracks on a wholly great album. I simply love the twisted din that this song provides. With some really bass-heavy production (an intended nuance, I'm sure), this album is a fine tussle once around, and it tends to grow on you after repeated listens. The warmth of the vocals is still one of the driving forces behind Ghost B.C.'s “signature” sound; what amazes and delights me is that a whole new generation might get to understand and know that old 70's feel that we've come to miss when you hit 40 and over. As a fan of the 60's and 70's prog movement, I can cite ten different bands this music draws inspiration from, but for the modern day tracks like “Monstrance Clock”, “Body and Blood” and “Secular Haze” take a distant past and make it readily viable once more, and for that I'm thankful and humbled.
All the songs on this album are really very good, and with my big mouth spouting off about them dismissing Repugnant in favor of hipster music I am verbally quelled; when I'm unwarranted in my bias I'm the first to stand up and admit my idiocy. Ghost B.C. may appeal to a demographic we don't necessarily appreciate or identify with, but that shouldn't take away from otherwise strong music that can reach audiences of all metal genres. If you are inclined to stray from the tempestuousness of extreme metal or the frenzied pace of speed and thrash, you might seek out Ghost B.C. in a completely neutral setting and realize that even we big mouthed know-it-alls can be served our dinners cold when necessary.
Let consummation commence....
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)
The staggering ascent of mysterious Swedes Ghost has been one of the top rock & metal stories of recent years - a band of 'nameless ghouls' fronted by a self-styled Satanic pope sounding not unlike a modern day Blue Öyster Cult tinged with the theatrics of a King Diamond/Mercyful Fate making significant inroads on the mainstream consciousness is a truly unexpected occurrence. Such a rapid rise from the underground inevitably inflates expectations and so here on album two, "Infestissumam", Ghost have a heck of a lot more riding on them than when "Opus Eponymous" came out just three years ago.
With such a unique sound already established naturally there has been no need to reinvent the wheel this time around; instead we have a bigger, brighter production to work with and a general rounding of rough edges that has had the effect of nullifying much of what was previously interesting about Ghost. We still have the Satanic circus feel that comes from the keys as made clear in "Secular Haze" while there is bounce and pomp to spare from the 60s-esque "Jigolo Har Meggido" and "Year Zero" but too much of what is here ends up sounding akin to rejects from the "Opus Eponymous" era at best, and downright lame at worst - "Ghuleh" being an example of a song drowning in its own smug arrogance until it finally breaks into "Zombie Queen". Of course, none of what Ghost is would be Ghost without the pandering vocals of Papa Emeritus II. His delivery is certainly intriguing (especially in the live arena where he dictates like a priest at the pulpit) but on record it feels distinctly soft. Perhaps this is to contrast with the shock rock image he presents but it does not confide with the stereotypical tough male rock vocal and feels weak and unimpressionable in result. I think to King Diamond in this instance and note that the unique qualities in his voice were (and still are) an adornment on a powerful set of pipes that can properly lead the music and note the absence of this in Ghost. The accessibility in his vocals is matched by the cleanliness in the guitar sound - in rhythm the tone offers little of the crunch this writer is used to reviewing, a fact which has no doubt helped burgeon their fanbase these recent months, and further contributes in focussing the attention on Emeritus' vocals which sit high in the mix.
Naturally religion plays a significant role in the overall make-up of Ghost, with tongue-in-cheek quasi-Satanic lyrics ("Depth of Satan's Eyes" anyone?), echoing Church-like organ work ("Monstrance Clock") and choral hymn chants ("Infestissumam") important features. But what matters most is that too many tracks drift by devoid of impact and with no "Con Clavi Con Dio" or "Elizabejth" to fall back on this time round "Infestissumam" falls short in replicating the success of "Opus Eponymous". Only time shall declare what impact this has on their upwards trajectory, but noting how unusual Ghost sound in this musical climate and knowing how well an unusual attire helps sales (Slipknot anyone?) I still don’t expect to see these ghouls slowing down anytime soon.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
Opus Eponymous left off with the track "Genesis", or in the words of one of the Nameless Ghouls, "The Birth of the Anti-Christ." This is where Infestissumam starts, with the life of the Anti-Christ. With more prominence on the organ than with the guitars and the bass, and the more than obvious disdain for Christianity, Papa Emeritus II and the Nameless Ghouls bring in an interesting and immensely amazing sophomore album. While Opus Eponymous was very gimmicky and basically saying, "Here is Satan. Here is us worshiping him", Infestissumam goes deeper than that. It is a Latin word meaning "most hostile". Ghost does not hold back on this record as it seems they did on Opus Eponymous.
The band makes great use of the choirs provided to them, from the opening chant in the title track all the way to the last lines in Monstrance Clock, whether used as background and atmospheric fillers or as prominent lines in the songs, such as the last section of Monstrance Clock. There is also some prominent diversity in various styles, such as in Ghuleh/Zombie Queen containing '60s surf rock styles midway through the song, pop rock-ish styles in Idolatrine, and dark ballad-like themes in Monstrance Clock.
Some highlight tracks from this album for me were Secular Haze, Year Zero, Ghuleh/Zombie Queen, Monstrance Clock, and Body and Blood, with some tracks that I felt were slightly weaker than the rest, those being Jigolo Har Migiddo and Idolatrine, though it's not to say I did not enjoy them.
Overall, I believe this album met the expectations that Opus Eponymous left for it, though I could see disputes and arguments between fans of Opus Eponymous and fans of Infestissumam due to the more doom metal sound not being prominent on this record.
I picked up this gem recently. I hadn't however heard much of it and what I heard did not sound to appealing to me at the time... At first listen I thought that the magical essence of Opus Eponymous was nowhere to be found. But repeated listens led me to the verdict that this amazing piece of music.. erm, more like "cinematic art", must be experienced straight through in one go, it reminds me of Black Sabbath's mighty release Sabotage which contains extremely diverse and somewhat operatic pieces that it can't simply be judged in the usual song by song formula. Although I shall mention all songs and my thoughts on them.
First off, the production is real clean and tight. It's not much of a challenge trying to distinguish from which album a ghost song is from just by digesting the production. All instruments sound amazing and so do the vocals by good ol' Papa. The use of additional vocal lines played simultaneously is one of the best features on the album and the delivery is awe-inspiring. Same goes for the synth which really shines through in songs like "Monstrance Clock" and "Secular Haze".
Now for the songs. Quite interesting indeed when it comes to diversity as no one song sounds similar to another and the genre ambiguous attitiude of the album gives it an edge when it comes to some of the unorthodox styles that are executed here. We of course have collosal epics that really deliver the "cathedral"-like atmosphere such as the meaty "Year One" and the humorous before-mentioned "Secular Haze". Certain songs do give off a surfer-rock feeling such as "Body and Blood", "Idolatrine" and the poppiest of all, "Jigolo Har Meggido". Other tracks go for more melancholic and proggressive routes such as the huge bastard of a track "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen" with its amazing chorus.. In fact, Ghost can really come up with some catchy-ass chorus lines, my personal favourite being the marching goodness of "Per Aspera Ad Inferi". I did expects something similar to "Con Clavi Con Dio", "Ritual" or "Stand By Him" at first listen but even without something reminiscent of those classic beasts, this album pulls through even stronger than its predecessor.
Let's go for standout moments, instead of standout tracks (because who the hell won't enjoy EVERY single one of these pieces):
Fantastic and melodic verse of "Depth of Satans Eyes"
The lead from "Infestissumam" into "Per Aspera Ad Inferi" (including the great chorus of the latter track)
Chorus and synthy part in the great closer, "Monstrance Clock"
The outro of "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen"
Beatles-esque chorus of "Body and Blood"
Now officially known as Ghost B.C. here in the United States (I like that name better personally), Ghost is one of the more interesting bands in today’s mainstream metal scene. They gradually acquired a cult following after the release of 2010’s Opus Eponymous for their over the top Satanic image and throwback occult metal sound, two elements that aren’t quite as groundbreaking when you’ve listened to any underground metal from the last twenty years. It can be safely said that their sophomore album is as controversial as ever, though not for the reasons that one would think.
For starters, it’s a pretty big stretch to refer to Infestissumam as a metal album. The content and presentation are as theatrical as ever but the debut’s Mercyful Fate influence is nowhere near as prominent and there is much more genre experimentation afoot. Instead, we have a more rock-oriented album with influence from pop, heavy metal, classical and choral music, circus themes on “Secular Haze,” and even disco on “Year Zero.” It kinda sounds like what would’ve happened if Sigh had started out playing doom instead of black metal but it could also be described as a culmination of all the styles Alice Cooper and KISS messed with during the 70s.
The band dynamic has also undergone some changes since their debut. The Nameless Ghouls playing the guitars and bass have more of a backing role this time around and allow the keyboards and choral vocals to define the album’s tone. The only element that seems to be securely held in place is frontman Papa Emeritus II, whose voice grabs the listener’s attention in a way that seems to be more hypnotic than charismatic.
Fortunately, the songs themselves manage to stay fairly consistent despite being a pretty mixed bag. Nothing on here is that riff driven, but just about every song still finds a way to stand out. “Jigolo Har Megiddo” and “Idolatrine” serve as upbeat romps as the choruses on tunes like “Body And Blood” and the closing “Monstrance Clock” should be pretty secure in your head for some time. “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen” has also earned its reputation as an early fan favorite thanks to its spooky ballad beginning and more upbeat second half.
But with that said, there are moments where either awkward song structuring or the lack of a strong guitar presence makes things rather rocky. This can best be seen in “Year Zero,” an odd disco rock bonanza that actually ends up being the album’s most memorable track. The Gregorian chants and funky verses are enough to make one want to sacrifice a goat while dancing like John Travolta, but the song seems to overlook these elements in favor of spending a little too much time on its jarringly slow chorus. It could be argued that such tantalizing leads to higher replay value, but it also makes one realize that the band was just an adjusted structure away from the biggest cult hit of 2013.
While some listeners may be crying foul over Infestissumam for the numerous modifications that Ghost has made to their sound, its flaws seem to be more related to songwriting than anything else. Continuing the riff-driven sound that was so prominent on Opus Eponymous probably would’ve made this an easier pill to swallow, but some tighter structuring may have served it better in the long run. Fortunately, the music is far from bad and the fun factor does warrant further listens. It’s hard to tell where the band will go from here but the debut still makes for a more solid initiation.
“Jigolo Har Megiddo”
“Body And Blood”
Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com
Talk about a band making splash waves and taking the metal world by storm! Indeed, there has been much attention surrounding the unnamed Swedish metallers following the release of their 2010 full length debut, Opus Eponymous,which blended satanic metal themes with psychedelic rock to incredibly positive results. Their means of concealing their identities by wearing cloaks and calling themselves “nameless ghouls” further added to their mystique, and the doomy eeriness found in their music. Ghost B.C.’s highly anticipated sophomore effort Infestissumam continues where the last album left off, and improves upon it, building on a very unique formula which results in some of the most fascinating and innovative metal of this day and age.
Just when you thought singing about Satan was as redundant as kicking a dead horse, Ghost comes out of nowhere and makes it sound more mysterious and fresh than ever before. Part of that, is no doubt, because of their extraordinary use of imagery. Their choice of concealing their identities is what gives magic to the music, and for this reason, I hope they never do reveal themselves. Secondly, Papa Emeritus II’ voice is absolutely mesmerizing. It fits the music with such perfection, to the point where you question if any other vocalist is more important to their band than Papa is to Ghost. It wouldn’t matter if Freddie Mercury was behind the microphone at a Ghost show; it just wouldn’t have the same effect. The vocals are entrancing and irreplaceable the way they are. Then there are the lyrics, which have a really profound impact if you know them. They’re arguably the scariest and chilling satanic lyrics written since Mercyful Fate. The best part about this is that you actually take them seriously because like Mercyful Fate, they aren’t blatant, stereotypical devil worshipping. With many death and black metal bands, you just laugh at the lyrics because they’re so outlandishly evil and ridiculous that you can’t process them as anything more than a joke. But with lyrics like “Perverted are your wishes and dreams, tanning in Lucifer’s beams,” you actually go, “woah… these guys are really singing about the devil!”
The music itself is incredibly unique. It sounds like nothing that has ever been done before, yet it’s maddeningly addicting. Before I dabbled into Ghost, most people would explain them to me as a mesh between Mercyful Fate and Blue Oyster Cult, with a trace of the doomy sound of early Black Sabbath. This is true to some extent, but the emphasis is much more on the Sabbath sound than Fate. In fact, aside from the heavily borrowed satanic influence, Ghost doesn’t really resemble Mercyful Fate music-wise. The guitars are extremely old school. They don’t have that heavily distorted crunch that developed in the 80s; rather, they closely mirror Tony Iommi’s riffing on the first Black Sabbath record. The music is incredibly well written and shows lots of experimentation. “Secular Haze” for example, incorporates an eerie circus vibe, which translates into a chilling piece of music. Then there’s the “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen” that begins as a very slow ballad for about three minutes before breaking into a surf rock metal jam. These guys know how to write songs, they’re such fantastic musicians!
The only complaint I have is a slight gripe with the production. While the album is layered well, the guitars feel a bit weak overall. I mentioned already that they aren’t too heavily distorted, which is all well and good, but it seems like they’re kind of mudded out a bit. I didn’t really notice it until I watched some live videos of them and noticed that the guitars had a much more presiding effect. This made me question why it couldn’t have been the same on the album, but it’s only a minor point and by no means takes anything away from what a spectacular album Infestissumam is.
Ghost is without a doubt the most exciting and interesting metal band on the scene right now. Instead of making carbon-copy mimicry of their influences, they instead draw from them and evolve them to another platform. The aura of mystique shrouding this band only fuels the hype, and is the closest thing many of us will ever have to compare with the old-timers who grew up in the glory days of metal. So go out to see them on their North American tour, and experience their mesmerizing musical black mass firsthand. The nameless ghouls in the cloaks will blow your minds and leave you wondering if there are actual ghouls beneath the hoods. It’s not such a crazy thought.
Originally written for dermetalkrieger.com (http://www.dermetalkrieger.com/reviews/music/ghostbc-infestissumam/)
Forming in 2008, the Swedish ghouls known as Ghost (or Ghost BC here in America due to silly name rights) broke into the heavy metal scene boasting an original sound all their own. Melodic, yet heavy, drenched in tone straight out of the seventies, they quickly caught on around the world. Featuring all clean vocals, lightly distorted guitars, and basic rock n roll drum beats, at first glance this is some extremely happy-sounding, radio-friendly heavy metal music. Upon closer listening and lyrical attention, one may find that this is the farthest thing from radio-friendly the airwaves could possibly ever see. Ghost is extremely dark (and full of terrors) in lyrical themes, praising Satan and people like Elizabeth Bathory, while keeping an extremely uplifting and jaunty sound.
The band released their second full length album, Infestissumam in early April 2013. Infestissumam is latin, for “most hostile” so the album right off the bat appears to speak words about the music to come. Opening the album is the medieval chant-like title track, hauntingly beautiful at first, then accompanied by the full band shooting it to an entirely new level of entrancing. It seamlessly flows into the next track, and those familiar vocals are heard once more. At first listen, the album is quite drum-heavy, followed by keyboard and bass presence, but the guitar is definitely in the background as far as the spotlight goes. Especially in songs like "Secular Haze" and "Idolatrine". It's great to hear an album with prominent bass, but that guitar is what really drives this style of music home. The keyboard elements definitely add to that eeriness, but they lack movement in most cases.
In songs like "Monstrance Clock", the keyboard is essential and perfectly utilized. Rightfully, the musicianship in this song is very steady, like clockwork, but the vocal work and vocal harmonizing through the chorus is beautiful, and the contrast is what sets this song apart from others. In my opinion, it is the best track on the album. "Body and Blood" features a more traditional heavy metal sound, with palm-muted power chords, and small licks on guitar and keys. The band is also experimenting more with flourishes like haunting chorus-like vocal melodies, and with eerie tracks like "Idolatrine" and "Depth of Satan's Eyes", the true fans of Ghost could not be let down.
In the traditional, truly evil, sound that Ghost is known for, this album doesn't disappoint. The music however, lacks a bit of the hook that their original album held and didn't quite keep my attention as I would have hoped. While still a strong album to be proud of, I fear it is not nearly as catching as I'd expected. There are some truly golden moments of the album, and the galloping drums keep the songs upbeat and moving, but the musicianship alongside is somewhat boring and repetitive, lacking genuine movement and flow. The production isn't nearly as sharp as it could have been, and that may be what is muddling the guitars down so far.
[Originally written for MetalWani.com]
Ghost has polarized listeners since their inception, with naysayers calling them gimmicky, soft and unoriginal. While they definitely take cues from some '70's proto-metal (à la Blue Oyster Cult,) they definitely aren't an outright copy of the sound that they are most often compared to. Infestissumam goes even further to distance themselves from that stigma. Their debut, Opus Eponymous, was a very catchy record that spent quite some time in my rotation, and they've expanded on the sound that will get stuck in your head for days.
One common complaint about their first album is it's lack of "heaviness." If that's something that turns you away, you definitely won't find respite on their sophomore effort. The guitar riffing often takes the back seat to synth-laden melodies, and oftentimes the bass line even sounds more prominent than the leads. That's not to say that there aren't some catchy riffs or neat little solos, but it's definitely scaled back even more this time around. Examples include the first single to be released, Secular Haze, which is essentially a dark, evil waltz. The synthesizer gives it a very eery, grotesque circus-vibe while still carrying that proto-metal charm.
A big surprise is the inclusion of the epic seven and a half minute Ghuleh/Zombie Queen. For the first three minutes, the track is driven by a calm and almost plaintive sounding piano/synth line. Completely new for Ghost, the beginning almost makes the track the band's first "ballad." But after that mark, the track quickly goes back into the psychedelic/proto-heavy weirdness that is the band's namesake.
The result of this experiment is quite honestly one of the most addicting listening experiences I've ever had. It's a fairly straight forward record, all things considered, but it keeps me coming back for more. There aren't any bands that have done this quite so well. I do note the similarities with other bands, but Ghost has the most flawless execution out of any of them. It's exciting music, catchy, and surprisingly fresh considering the decades-old influences.
Aside from the songwriting, the production quality could have used some extra work. It's hard for me to pinpoint the exact problems with the mastering, but sometimes it just sounds far too muddled. Almost like someone went a bit too far on the reverb. It doesn't take much away from the listening experience, but it's there, and every now and then you might wonder if you have a poor rip even though it's a 320. I haven't listened to it lossless, but I have to assume that the mastering problems will still rear their ugly head. Still, a small blemish on the record.
It's these few surprises, and additions to the sound, that set Infestissumam apart from it's predesessor. But even for diehard fans of the debut, there is a lot to like. Tracks like Body and Blood and Jigolo Har Megiddo would feel right at home on Opus Eponymous, even with the extra synth thrown in. The whole package comes together as a very decisive expansion of the sound, and should solidify Ghost as a band that will be remembered for at least these two instant classics.
Standout tracks: Secular Haze, Jigolo Har Megiddo, Ghuleh/Zombie Queen, Body and Blood, Monstrance Clock
Originally written for http://tipofthehat.forumsmusic.com
Ghost (or Ghost B.C. as they are known here in the States) is one of the only modern metal bands that I can say I'm absolutely nuts for. In a style that has become rampant with stale ideas, horrid production values, and lazy, uninteresting songwriting, Ghost's throwback nature, pleasant-yet-heavy sound, and preference for secrecy when it comes to just who the men behind the black masks are drew me to their debut record Opus Eponymous and forever sucked me into their world. Satanic Blue Öyster Cult mixed with traditional heavy metal as performed by five guys in hooded robes and an evil Pope? What about that wouldn't have made me interested in them? The formula worked, and I fell in undying love with every single song on that record. Now two-and-a-half years later and one new Papa Emeritus later (although it's still the same guy as before), Ghost have unveiled, as they would prefer to call it, their newest "ritual" in the form of Infestissumam, and not is it as good as Opus Eponymous was, it might even be a little better.
On this record, the band have put their new found fame and advanced payment from Universal to excellent use, expanding beyond Opus's 70s-styled nature for something much bigger and more epic than before. Throughout the record are bombastic elements such as Gregorian chanting, full fledged choirs, and even the occasional symphonic flair such as the beginning of "Body and Blood". Musically the band has begun to experiment with different styles beyond their original throwback roots, incorporating elements from circus music on "Secular Haze", really evil disco with "Idolatrine" (love the pun, by the way), and even a kind of Danny Elfman vibe throughout the closer "Monstrance Clock". Each song contained within this record's covers has its own identity, from the heavy metal riffage of "Per Aspera Ad Inferi" to "Jigolo Har Meggido"'s feeling of if "Call Me" by Blondie was about Satan to "Year Zero"'s absolutely epic chanting chorus to, as a friend of mine put it, the "Christian rock Alice Cooper" vibe on "Body and Blood". They haven't forgotten where they came from though, as is shown with "Depth of Satan's Eyes", easily the most Opus sounding song on the record. The pinnacle of this experimentation however comes in the form of "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen". Beginning as what can only be described as the most evil song The Beatles never wrote, the song morphs into a depraved Halloween jamboree. Papa Emeritus even incorporates an extreme metal shriek at one point, adding to the unhinged nature of the song. Even though it drags a little bit near the end due to its 7-and-a-half minute run time, I'm more than willing to overlook that as the rest of the song before that brief minute is pure excellence. All in all it's a remarkably great collection of songs that will refuse to leave your head no matter what you do.
While the guitars may have taken a bit of a backseat throughout most of the record to the keyboards and other assorted non-stringed elements, they still shine through with easily identifiable riff work and, though even rarer, fitting solos. The two Nameless Ghouls responsible for these instruments play with precision and, as mentioned, their playing style is incredibly identifiable even to someone not as familiar with Ghost as a seasoned veteran of the first record is. The bass is played just as well here as it was on the first record, and even though the instrument isn't as noticeably audible on this record as it was the last due to the bigger, more bombastic production, you can at least still make out what the Nameless Ghoul is doing. The drums on this record are simply excellent, perfectly fitting the music despite not having too many "flair" spots and expressing the necessary energy required for any given song. "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen" is where the instrument shines most however, contributing much to the song's crazed nature through punk-styled playing. Papa Emeritus II once again proves that he's a damn good singer, as was already known to those that listen to the alleged Papa Tobias Forge's previous band Subvision. He has a lot of character in his voice, able to switch from a quiet, softer voice to a loud, energetic one with no problems whatsoever. As mentioned, the production on Infestissumam is much bigger and more epic than the previous album's style, which is kind of necessary for the much bigger, more epic music this record holds. Although the loudness is slightly overwhelming at a couple points, such as "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen"'s chorus, it's not complete shit as many other modern metal and rock albums sound, and the loudness can actually help what the band are going for at times, particularly in the chorus of "Year Zero" which is designed to be as huge as it possibly can be. Even though my own personal tastes regarding album production prefer the warmer, more organic sound of the debut, the production style of this record actually fits what the music is doing and isn't just loud for the sake of being loud.
Bigger in both size and scope than Opus Eponymous, clocking in at nearly 15 minutes longer than the previous album on the standard edition and nearly 30 minutes longer on the deluxe edition, Ghost with Infestissumam have proved that not only are they not just some flash in the pan throwback nostalgia act, but that they are capable of building upon that throwback style and have created something truly magnificent. Love it or hate it nature of the band aside, Infestissumam is an unequivocally spectacular outing from the Swedish mystery men, and will leave the listener wanting more and more with each and every successive listen. I can only wait with utter excitement as to what the future holds for this band, who are rapidly becoming more and more popular by the minute beyond pretty much everyone's expectations. Considering that they have cemented themselves as the great songwriters that they are with Infestissumam, I'm certain that that future is as bright as it can possibly be.
In 2010, 6 mysterious fellows in robes gave the world a slab of nostalgic heavy metal in Opus Eponymous. It was catchy, heavy and contained great songwriting, but it was a very 'safe' album and only hinted at Ghost's potential. Now in 2013 and with a new Papa, Ghost achieve their goal of bringing Satan to the masses. While this album is considerably less heavy and it is debatable whether or not this even is a heavy metal album, the songwriting has matured, the musicians have become more inventive and the vocal lines are catchier than ever. Papa Emeritus II has developed as a vocalist and has become more diverse with his mid-range, lows, falsettos, and whispers are all perfect. He even hints at an extreme metal-style scream on Ghuleh/Zombie Queen, hinting at rumoured Emeritus Tobias Forge's career in Repugnant. While some songs are blatantly heavy metal (Secular Haze, Per Aspera Ad Inferi), the other songs diverse greatly in style from catchy pop rock in Idolatrine to '60s surf rock in Zombie Queen to creepy Satanic ballad in Monstrance Clock.
The band makes use of choirs a lot on this record, sometimes for effect and atmosphere (the title track, the intro to Year Zero) and other times it seems the choir was put there to represent the points when the crowd will sing along in a live setting (Monstrance Clock, the "Hail Satan" in the last chorus of Year Zero).
The guitar and bass took command on Opus Eponymous, yet on this album the guitar and bass take a backseat to the vocals and organ, which really dominate the songs while the drumming remains stellar, but nothing fancy.
The band have also developed as songwriters. On Opus Eponymous, the lyrics were "Satan is good, God is bad" kind of material, while on this record they tell stories with their lyrics and make religious satire while still keeping the prominent Satanic theme. My favourite lyrics are in the 8th track, Idolatrine, which not-so-subtly, but quite intelligently call Christians stupid, comparing the "devouts" to the "simpletons".
Overall, I think this is an album that will divide the fanbase as the band strays from its heavy/doom metal roots, but truly shows the band's potential. If they carry on improving, I cannot wait to hear what their third album will show.