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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]