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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.