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Stunning follow up to a stunning debut - 93%

hammersmashedeverything, May 5th, 2013

Ghost emerged out of the shadows of Sweden in 2010 with their debut album “Opus Eponymous”. Immediately they attracted attention and curiosity, with the band members consisting of five cloaked and hooded “nameless ghouls” and an undead cardinal-styled frontman named Papa Emeritus, all of whom remained anonymous. The album itself sealed the deal for Ghost; it was an absolute masterpiece. A beautifully crafted work full of fantastic traditional heavy metal songs with Satanic, occult lyrics soaked in a 1970’s atmosphere, it’s one of the best debuts of recent times and of all time within metal. It secured them mainstream attention, and high profile fans in the metal and rock community, such as James Hetfield, Phil Anselmo, Dave Grohl and Lee Dorrian. All this, as well as the three years since the release of “Opus Eponymous”, make Ghost’s (Ghost B.C. as they are known in the U.S.) second album “Infestissumam” one of the most anticipated albums of 2013.

“Infestissumam”, meaning “Hostile” in Latin, begins with it’s titular intro track, which immediately shows that Ghost’s sound and songwriting is still potent and spectacular. Opening with a choir, with other voices gradually being added in to spine-chilling effect, it suddenly explodes into a majestic wall of enormous guitars and pounding drums, before leading right into the bone-crunching main riff of “Per Aspera Ad Inferi”. A fantastic song complete with one of Ghost’s trademark melodic and haunting choruses, it’s a very promising start for the album.

The rest of the album seems to go by in minutes, the whole thing being a captivating journey through ethereal yet solid and tangible soundscapes. It ranges from the unsettling circus waltz of lead single “Secular Haze” with its spiraling riffs and disturbing keyboards, to the strangely relaxing and laid back “Body and Blood”, from the upbeat and infectious “Jigolo Har Megiddo” to the bizarre and gloriously over the top “Idolatrine”. At times it's heavy and dark, like on “Per Aspera Ad Inferi”, “Depth of Satan’s Eyes” and album closer “Monstrance Clock”, while at other times like on “Idolatrine” and “Jigolo Har Megiddo” it’s uplifting and joyous. There’s also the album centerpiece “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen”, which is the most musically adventurous thing Ghost have ever written. Starting off as a slow and beautiful synth-drenched piano piece, its driving riff suddenly but smoothly kicks in and whisks the song off to new, unexplored places, while Papa Emeritus gives the vocal performance of his career so far, before its eight minute run time closes with a stunning and expansive ending. Immediately following this is the chilling and creepy “Year Zero”, once again beginning with echoing choirs, before bursting into its gargantuan and all-engulfing chorus. The order of these tracks is also important to the album. Emulating records from the 1960’s and 70’s, it is organized into a Side A and Side B, both of which begin with eerie church choirs (“Infestissumam” and “Year Zero”) and end with one of Ghost’s more ambitious and epic compositions (“Ghuleh/Zombie Queen” and “Monstrance Clocks”). The deluxe edition also features the hypnotic “La Mantra Mori” and a great cover of ABBA’s “I’m a Marionette” featuring Dave Grohl on drums, similar to their stunning cover of “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles on “Opus Eponymous”.

Jam-packed with wonderful musicianship from every band member, ranging from Papa’s soaring and haunting vocals to excellent drum, guitar, bass, and keyboard work from the Nameless Ghouls, and full of mesmerising musical ideas executed with stunning precision and flair, “Infestissumam” is a very worthy successor to the still enthralling and incredible “Opus Eponymous”, and shows that the attention Ghost have garnered isn’t just based on their curious image and awesome stage show, but also as a result of their excellent music. A musical journey rather than simply a collection of fantastic songs, “Infestissumam” is definitely worth the wait.