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There was no escaping this band and album upon the unearthing of its unholy grave. For a good long while the name, cover art and consistent shouting from the rooftops were all over the map, and like many other groups out there I wasn't interested and found it all rather annoying. I mean, I get it...sorta...and to be fair old world metal was never my kind of thing (bring on the crown of thorns!) so there was nothing anyone could do to entice me to give Ghost anything more than a single glance. But alas, my curiosity once again took hold, and after a few years of dust-settling, I really just had to see what the fuss was all about way back when...
What we have here isn't what I'd call a proper band so much as a pet project run amok, a head-on-car-crash-like collision of Mercyful Fate, Blue Oyster Cult with a side-swiping of vintage Black Sabbath for good measure, and as you could expect from this analogy, listening to it is just as enjoyable. I don't doubt for a second that the intentions were, to an extent, noble with regard to the nameless ghouls and what they wanted to achieve, but taken as it is, "Opus Eponymous" is just nothing special. At all. And yet, no one would shut the fuck up about this. Truly, the only praise this got that I could understand is that they "don't make metal like this anymore!" You're right, they don't (at least, not in a mainstream setting...), but there are reasons for it; this isn't the 1970s anymore, and the musical status quo of old has long since been forsaken in the name of differing inspiration and further evolution of sound to the point where even Sabbath's "13" album comes off as an old hat full of wrinkles and arthritic joints, which in turn hurts this work all the more. Right from the get- with this, everything Ghost did, and still continue to do, is so very long in the tooth and almost woefully archaic that listening to this from end to end brings on the yawns rather than ritualistic chants. The main issue here is that nothing Ghost does is original, groundbreaking, or even good; every riff, movement scheme, vocal line and concept has been done, both better and to the death, thereby making this debut almost entirely without worth. Sure, the production is sound, the performance is tight and there's a certain level of flair in the creative department...but when your end result is something like this, it just feels like an artist working day and night to recreate another artist's masterpiece only to have the end result not be nearly as profound, which really sounds unfair, yet in this case it's more than simply true.
Now to their credit, Ghost is less cloyingly hipsterish than the likes of Ancient VVisdom, but all the same we already have/had the Fate, the Cult, and the Sabbath, so why would you take many of their attributes (the good and the bad), and just run through a wall with it? If this were done as a sort of "Garage Inc."-level tribute I may have given it a wide berth, but seeing as it's not I just simply can't. There's really no conceivable way how and why this is so beloved over other groups out there that deserve more credit, exposure and whatnot, the way I see it. What are ya'll hearing that I'm not?? But all that said, it may be derivative, full of holes and close to boring to listen to, but I'll admit that this didn't quite offend me all that much in itself. The undue glad-handing this gets was a bit easier to accept than the likes of Burzum, Alestorm or DragonForce, so if nothing else I can give them an approving nod in that regard. Does that save this album, or band, because of it? Not a chance, as I still didn't like this in the least given its two-dimensionality. But I guess, if nothing else, one could use this group as a decent "gateway band" to get into the finer arts of metal music should, for whatever reason, the "one" in question doesn't have access to proper entry-level groups isn't there. I mean, you could do worse...Lamb of God, anyone?
In the end this did little to nothing for me, and certainly didn't live up to any of the mountainous hype it got from damn near everyone in the metal scene, but at worst I can simply ignore it/them. It seems like this is the new cool thing? The new cool band and sound? Seems that way to me, anyway, and seeing as I never buy into whatever's hip, or with it, or whatever you kids call it, I'll give this one a pass and leave it at the wayside. I've better bands to partake in, after all...
Absolute gold here, no better way to put it. It's only one of two full lengths, and I cannot tell which I even like better. You'll see that I gave both of them 100%, and that is because they are both phenomenal to a degree in which choosing which is better is impossible. So let's dive into it.
First, let me start off with this, as it's an argument that a lot of people will try to throw out at me. It is very basic sounding. I know! The instrumentation is not that original, but they make it work! Sure, plenty of people get bored with it, but I see all of the artistic formulas behind everything. Let's just start out with that intro, for example, "Deus Culpa". It's literally just a minute and a half of quiet, minor toned, eerie screeches of the church organ in a slow manner. That's not in the least bit creative, but guess what, it's different and I haven't heard anything else like it yet. So as soon as you hear that, you immediately know that they're shooting for something different. Then you go look up what the band looks like and you find out you're listening to a bunch of guys in black hoods with an evil pope frontman.
A highlight of this is the fact that the bass is very audible throughout the whole thing, and any time that I see that in a metal album, I will describe it with no skepticism. It's evident immediately on the next track, "Con Clavi Con Dio", as that's what the intro to that song is, bass! It even has it's own minor tuned melodic sound to it and we haven't even gotten to the other instruments yet. Now, following that is the slight drum taps, and then the guitar. Both of those are very basic sounding, as the drum beat is pretty common, as is the riff that doesn't have a lot of variety to the sound. But it's the keyboard in the background that does it. It adds that effect that just gives you a "woah, what am I listening to?" feeling? It's heavy and powerful, and if you've never listened to them before, you could be ready for some harsh Skeletonwitch sounding vocals. But then, the vocals come in, and they're clean the whole way through. Most of what I just mentioned is pretty basic, but the way they put it together makes it entertaining and unusual. Plus, I mean you have that clean of a sound, yet almost all of it is played in a minor tone. That aspect really draws me in too. I hate to be cliche here, but it's very much like Black Sabbath.
This format is followed out through most of the album, but the reason it doesn't get boring is because they mix around the basics. For example, I said that the second track starts out with bass only. The next one, "Ritual", starts with a simple guitar riff, and a second guitar fades in to back it up. Then there's a bridge, and everything turns dark and heavy sounding as the other instruments enter. Or what about how "Satan Prayer" fades in with a fast guitar sweep, but then drums kick in and change the overall atmosphere. Then suddenly it gets slow and quiet, with vocals that are rather whispered. Then the chorus picks up and the keyboard is more audible in the background. This is all probably getting tough to keep in your head, but the point is, yes everything is basic. But they mix it all around in different fashions to the point that everything still sounds unique and different from one another, even though it all has that same basic sound. On top of mixing everything like that, now you have this monotone voice of Papa Emeritus. Again, monotone, basic. That sounds boring, but it's not, because it just mixes in with the overall unique effect. He doesn't change tone much, but he still hits whatever pitch he's shooting for perfectly. No there's not a lot of energy either, but I believe that the instruments provide plenty of that, which is mostly what makes them metal. So to sum that up, they mix a bunch of basic sounds in an energetic way to sound unique, while throwing a slow, eerie, and clean voice on top to give it that chiller effect.
The overall tone is usually dark and spooky, they tend to change from that to a more happy sound, also shaking it up a little bit. It's best heard in "Stand By Him". The main verses are played in a minor tempo, and are supposed to give you a chilling feeling. Once the chorus comes in, it changes immediately to a happy sound, even though you and I both know, they don't really write about happy things. Well, I guess you could say it's happy if you legitimately worship Satan, but I mean come on, how many people actually do that and aren't doing it as a gimmick? Even Glen Benton of Deicide probably doesn't, as I would assume these guys (or girls?) are doing it for the same shock effect.
The last track is one of the biggest highlights. It's an instrumental called "Genesis", and it just fades in from the end of the previous track with the keyboard, and the other instruments slowly make their approach. It's a very relaxing outro to an album, with simple riffs and small guitar solos crammed into a few minutes, ending with an acoustic guitar, which isn't really heard anywhere else on this album. It's ending is so different from the rest of the album, as it's very peaceful sounding. However to be fair, this one is more relaxing than your typical metal album.
If you only crave complex solos, complex writing, and fast paced work, then stay the hell away from this album because you'll get bored. But if you can appreciate taking something simple and making it very entertaining through creative formulas of musical work, and slow, clean vocals, then this is the album for you. Like I said, somewhat relaxing, and very unique alike.
I think most people know what Ghost (B.C.) is about, so no need to delve into that. The band's debut album 'Opus Eponymous' features music heavily influenced by greats from the old days such as Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult and Mercyful Fate/King Diamond. The band's gimmicky image sure is interesting and is probably the thing that made them so big. This, and the very catchy pop metal; something I can see is taken from the poppier side of BÖC (and others that I can't think of right now).
The songs themselves, while not the most original in sound, are quite unique anyhow. The production is very clear, so you hear the great guitar tone properly, as well as the good basslines, very decent drumming, and the cleverly utilized keyboard. What probably stands out the most (apart from the costumes) is the voice of Papa Emeritus. His voice is extremely clean. Like, holy shit. His singing is quite good, but perhaps a bit arduous to get into, if you're somebody who listens to Cannibal Corpse and Burzum on a regular basis. The lyrics are gimmicky, as well, and aren't original, but the band, as a whole, is somewhat humorous and original, in the end.
The production, like I said, is very good (clear) and brings the best out of the music present on the album. The songs aren't complicated or anything, but they're often infectious, like the chorus in "Ritual" and "Stand By Him", for instance. Initially, I wasn't that impressed with Ghost and their debut album. I did enjoy "Ritual" almost immediately, but that's as far as it went, but after a few spins the album grew on me. Gradually, after every listen. I began to enjoy other songs like "Stand By Him", "Satan Prayer" and "Death Knell". Soon after, the rest followed. The vocals put me off in the beginning, too, but I ended up actually digging them after my ears had adjusted to the whole... package that is Ghost. Ironically, my pick from 'Opus Eponymous' is the final track; the instrumental called 'Genesis'. The keyboardist managed to play something that isn't even pop metal, but closer to something you'd hear in a nightclub; something that weirded me out at first, but once the song really started, and the guitars kicked in, I was sold. The guitars in this song are awesome. Simple, but beautiful. Almost brings tears to my eyes, because it reminds me of taking walks with my dog, who since has passed away.
Anyway...In the end, Ghost is a band that people seem to either love or hate. I'm not a fanboy, but I certainly enjoyed 'Opus Eponymous' a lot, and still do. You might grow a bit tired if you listen to this album constantly for days, weeks, or months, due to its simple music. But play it in between your louder, wilder, more brutal and aggressive albums every once in a while, and it shall gently remind you that Lord Satan is still around.
Back in the early 2000’s, a group of bands emerged playing what is known as retro. The big names being Witchcraft, Devil’s Blood and Bloody Hammers (nowadays). While this scene is fairly interesting, it got boring pretty quickly. Enter Ghost, a band that nobody expected. The member’s identities are maintained credited only as “a nameless ghoul”, except for the vocalist, name Papa Emeritus I. Their shtick is clear, they have a weird fetish for religious themes, much like Mercyful Fate’s early works. That’s it; nothing more.
Sound wise, they’re pretty generic. The drums are basic enough so that a hand puppet can play along. The guitars, while having an eerie and original tone, get tiring pretty quickly. When “Stand By Him” comes, I get a feeling of déjà vu remembering all the other so creative songs. The one thing that I can give credit is the production. The mixing of those elements is superb. The bass, which is very dry, entwines with the guitar smoothly, followed by the keys, which are, at the very least, generic. Again, they are, as every fucking other instrument here, eerie, creepy, but, again, as every fucking other instrument here, generic. It’s as if they are creating music based on the idea, this image they carry, and ignore the flow of songwriting, neglecting every creative and new idea, just to maintain this image of “hey, we are creepy. Satan and stuff”.
Speaking of Satan, the devil here is Papa Emeritus. He is what drags this band down. Vocalists are the front man of their respective group; they give the energy the band needs, the power of the choruses. In this case, there is no energy at all. It’s as if, Mister Emeritus is dead. If then, mission accomplished! Breaking news! The band Ghost literally consists of ghosts! Huzzah! He sings well, but in a monotone voice that even Mathias Blad would call snoring, he gives off a bad impression.
The songs aren’t that much of creative. Con Clavi Con Dio is the weakest attempt of writing a metal song I’ve ever heard. It tries so much to be heavy and fast, but it comes out bland and boring. Instead, of making me want to enter a moshpit, it makes me want to drink tea and sleep early. Ritual, while having a nice intro, is just weak through and through. Elizabeth is just boring. Whenever the chorus begins, it makes me listen to Petersson singing Abgail or Melissa. The only song that can almost be considered good is Prime Mover, only because it has some power; double bass, crash, and a consistent chorus. The ending track is okay; I’ve heard betters instrumentals, but this isn’t all that bad.
So that’s Ghost: a boring band based solely on an idea. An idea that is so strong, that people often forget how boring they are. I’ve ran out of things to say about these guys, if it is guys anyway. The songs are so vapid and hollow; it perplexes me how they got so high in fame as to play alongside Slayer and Iron Maiden, but I digress. If you enjoy the likes of retro inspired bands, there is some interesting stuff here; however, it isn't as good as other bands of the genre. Overall, this is just a poor attempt of making music, through and through.
I finally figured out what the biggest problem with this band is: it’s the fucking vocals, guys. You will hear so much praise and so much hate for this album depending on where you go, and really I couldn’t figure out exactly why for the longest time – sure, it was pretty “safe” sounding, and allegations of “soullessness” could be made, but those are very arbitrary concepts, and I personally do not think they can really be the core of why you dislike something – not if you’re approaching things from a critical standpoint. So what was it about Ghost that I just didn’t find appealing for the longest time? The fucking vocals.
I mean this “head ghoul” guy is just so…lame. He’s the Ultralame. That opening bit in “Con Clavi Con Dio” where he doubles over his voice with a chorus effect and goes “SATAN!!!” like he’s a lost Satanic cousin of John Lennon is just so annoying. And the rest of his vocals follow suit – he’s generally listenable, but the whole “trying to sound like a 60s/70s soft rock singer while the music is occult old school metal” thing just sucks; it does not work. I get that that was what they were going for. The problem is that it was a stupid fucking idea and it didn’t work.
Emulating your influences is cool and the idea is sort of novel, if really gimmicky all the same, but he just sounds bored through this whole thing. Singers like Ozzy Osbourne or the guy from Witchfinder General had nasally, limited voices, but they really put their all into it and gave dramatic performances – they sold the music with verve and attitude, even when they didn’t sound particularly awesome on their own. This guy is consciously trying to sound like those guys – which is why it doesn’t work. Having a limited voice is fine when you know how to use it. Having a good voice and just singing like crap just makes you sound like a tool. I can tell this guy could do better if he wanted to.
Either he needs to ramp up the energy and start shrieking like a real metal singer, or the band needs to play slower and doomier to fit his droll, drab voice – the band still wouldn’t be great with either of those changes, but it would be better than what we get.
The rest of the album, eh, it’s OK. It’s really nothing that horrible. The riffs are pretty solid. “Con Clavi Con Dio” has a cool one, so does “Stand By Him” and “Satan Prayer.” There’s nothing outwardly wrong with the music on this at all. The problem is the songwriting, which is just kind of boring. The riffs are good and the rhythm section and keyboards do adequately enough at their jobs, but the songs don’t really go anywhere. They just kind of plod along without any real progression. Talented bands have made songs this simple work – hell, look at Motorhead, or even the more obvious answer of Sabbath themselves. But Ghost’s songs are all simple, all very short – they do not really use their classic metal and psychedelic/stoner rock influences to do anything cool. It sounds like they were on test drive. Every song has a decent to good riff, a fairly catchy chorus, and then just stops right there. No other parts or interesting things happen. No twists and turns.
And that’s the reason why I think some people have a problem with this album. There’s nothing wrong with emulating the great bands of the past and adding in a quirky gimmick – well, it would never be a masterpiece, but there’s nothing about that formula that automatically makes it suck either. But when you just take the good elements of the past without trying to write real songs or do interesting things with them, nobody is ever going to take you at the same level as the bands you emulate. And unless you’re just a shitty pub cover band, you should try to have some kind of aspiration to stand out from the pack and do something cool. It’s the fact that they just take the sound of their influences with none of the style that makes Ghost seem like posers. Like it or not, Black Sabbath never had an album this one-dimensional and predictable.
If this album does it for you, great. To me it just sounds like a weak and rather neutered version of what came before. Ghost need to get their heads in the game and start playing like they mean it.
Ghost came out of the dark foreboding darkness with their first offering entitled Opus Eponymous. This album conjures up a lot of satanic imagery, horror and classic 70’s rock and prototype metal. Maybe that is a cliche thing to do nowadays as countless bands follow that trend but Ghost puts a truly unique spin on a tired formula. As you all know, they combine 70’s rock (Very guitar and bass oriented) with some pop music and if you have heard this album before you will know what I am talking about. So many catchy choruses paired with cheesy (awesome) satanic lyrics provide a ground that is not often traveled upon. They are certainly not pioneers think (Mercyful Fate or Blue Oyster Cult) but what they do breathes fresh air into the metal scene. They are not an extreme metal band by any stretch of the imagination but they do borrow some elements from death and black metal.
Opus Eponymous is a very short album clocking in at a measly 35 minutes but in this case, we get quality over quantity. They take a classic 70’s approach and Opus reminds me of Black Sabbath’s Masters of Reality with the general flow of the album. There are extremely dark satanic lyrics along with some great melodies and catchy riffs. Everything about this album is blasphemy in the best way possible.
Ritual is probably my personal favorites and a certain highlight of the album. Ritual just screams forth blasphemy with that amazing chorus that is sure to get stuck in your head. “The chapel of ritual smells of dead human sacrifices from the altar bed”. You know those lyrics are so cheesy but it is catchy and it is hard not to sing along with. No pop band could ever make those lyrics sound good or have that precise musicianship. They really procreated an unholy bastard with this track and it is a true masterpiece that will leave an everlasting impact. The rest of the album follows the same formula as Ritual but each song is a craft of its own.
There is a lot that Ghost has to offer even with the relatively short album time. We have diverse instrumentals that show their progressive side, hard rocking songs and even some pop influenced moments. Papa Emeritus and the nameless ghouls really set the bar high with this release and Opus certainly qualifies as a breath of fresh air. Opus is fun, heavy, satanic and extremely cheesy at the same time!
So with Opus Eponymous, we get a fantastic slab of doomy 70’s rock music with a twist. The pop styled catchiness and the satanic imagery just puts this band on the top. They came out of nowhere and in only approximately 3 years, they have made quite the splash. They really made an initial album to be proud of and they still play the entire thing live when they headline. If you like this album, I strongly encourage you to see them live. It is a theatrical masterpiece and you get to hear Opus in its entirety (I know they do not play Deus Culpa but that is not really a song but it is an intro). Ghost may seem like a gimmick with all the imagery, but if you listen to Opus I think you will find that they take their music seriously and they are dedicated musicians who want to spread the word of “LUCIFERRRRRRRR”!
Revivalism is a fun business, but also a risky one. If caution is not taken, a simple little 19th century cult with everybody dressed in white, crying out to the sky from their rooftops for the coming apocalypse can turn into a bunch of annoying people with pamphlets and bicycles, or for those obsessing about proper names, Mormons. A similar little tale can be said of the massively hyped rock/metal dog and pony show dubbed Ghost (or Ghost B.C. for Americans who get off on that intellectual property thing). Nowadays everybody loves playing up the transitional 70s rock metal angle from The Sword to White Wizzard, and it was just a matter of time before someone was going to dress up like a cross between a Roman Bishop and a Day of the Dead cake while sounding like a bellbottom toting mutant offspring of Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate and The Bee Gees.
But all jive talkin' about the prince of darkness, witches and Johnny the Fox aside, there is a balance between imagery and substance that needs to be maintained, and "Opus Eponymous" capsizes within the first 5 minutes. After a droning church organ intro that's about as dry and drag as the 2 note prelude to "Age Of Winters", what follows is a reasonably brief but mercilessly brutal exercise in cliche that is a bit much even for a die-hard retro fanatic culminating in 7 different ways to make the left-hand path into a 70s standup routine. Then to top it all off comes a vocalist with a gentle, demure voice out of a bad Blue Oyster Cult tribute album, and the resulting fever comes with no cowbell to speak of. If this is the grand sacramental observance by which the adversary hopes to storm the gates of heaven, it's not hard to see why St. Michael kicked the great dragon's ass all those millennia ago.
To be sure, there are some riffs to be found here that give this band of satanic christmas critters some teeth, but even the adequate reaffirming of 70s jam band and 80s NWOBHM ideas come off as fairly comical. "Satan Prayer" has a few occasional fits of brilliance as it comprehends a few Mid-Eastern inspired takes on flower power, reminding a bit of the guitar solo section of "Don't Fear The Reaper", but it too often finds itself picking flowers in the meadow with cutesy melodies while harping about otherworldly realms of darkness. "Elizabeth" is the closest thing to a purely metallic endeavor, reminding heavily of the theatrical elements heard on "Melissa" 27 years prior, but coming up pretty short in the passion department. That's pretty much the story of every isolated incident of quality on this album, it's just muddled up by slavish monotony or an ironic clashing of imagery and sound.
As things close out with a instrumental hodgepodge of Rush and Blue Cheer influences named "Genesis", one can't help but notice how much this album suffers from a sheer lack of subtlety and a poverty of aggression. Even if this band had laid off the goofy satanic imagery and gone for something in the mold of Presto Ballet or Spock's Beard, this would still be a musical dead end at best. This Ghost is ailing, all of the ganja in the world can't cure it, and it would have probably been more honest to its listeners by putting a picture of the mystery machine on their album cover and writting lyrics about running from spooky monsters while scarfing down Scooby snacks. Maybe they could have titled the album "The groovy satanic cult mystery" too for sake of keeping things consistent.
When I first bought this album, I was expecting doom metal, as that is what the store categorized the genre, and me, being a huge doom metal fan, was interested in the cover art and expected something....Pentagram-ish, I suppose. I dunno. I feel sometimes that album artwork speaks to me, and it is true that that is how I have discovered so many of my favorite albums throughout my heavy metal listening years, but this is all besides the point.
In one way, you could say I got what I expected, but, as it is with most really good bands, you cannot classify their genre within a general term like "Doom Metal," or "Black Metal," or "Pop," etc. Ghost draws influences from many different genres, and upon first listen most tend to think Witchfinder General and Mercyful Fate had an influence on this band. While they did indeed, the band have said themselves their main influence comes from a cocktail comprised of a heavy tequila a la "The Doors" and a dark margarita mix of death metal. Not exactly in those terms, but you get the idea. What makes this release so unique is the blend of sounds they have created. Songs like "Ritual" and " " have a definitive '80s-styled pop-like influence. It is almost humorous as you listen along to Papa Emeritus' lyrics in the aforementioned song. Such evil lyrical content, but his soft, piercing bellowing contrasts it so much. But it works for Ghost. On the other hand, I can see why people would not like this band, and why people would question their place on the archives. Actually, that last statement I take back - the '70s heavy metal sound is definitely the most prevalent genre looming over this album. Why question it? It's all about Satan! Influences from metal range from '70s-inspired Black Sabbath/Blue Oyster Cult riffs and piano passages to the evil lyrical themes from bands such as "Morbid Angel" and "Mercyful Fate".
Highlights on the album include the aforementioned pop-driven "Ritual", the crushingly-heavy "Stand By Him", the epic and mysterious-esque of "Death Knell", and an outstanding closing instrumental entitled "Genesis", leaving us all craving for more God damned Satan-inspired '70s-tuned metal. What makes the band even more mystique is their attire and anonymity, influenced by bands such as KISS. The formula has worked countless times before, and it works for Ghost as well.
Any metal fan should be proud to own this album.
This is a good album.
Sorry if that's a bit blunt, but I haven't written any musical reviews (as in about music, not reviews explained through the medium of rhythm) for 2 years. In hindsight, interpreting the fruits of Ghost's labour through song and dance would be as entertaining as it would awful. Perhaps next time.
I could forgive you for, upon first glance, seeing this as boring and generic, and to an extent I suppose that's true; the lyrics can be classed as 'Satan and shit' while 'Ghost' is a pretty lame band name. They even throw in some esoteric Latin song titles for an added bonus. But you'd be wrong. The proof is in the pudding as they say, and no sooner do you dive in, you'll sample the delicious riffs on offer and be glad. Glad you bought the album (I hope) ... Seriously though, if you like it, support an up and coming band.
The production is excellent and extraordinarily clean. It really accentuates the two guitarists and they come out sharp and crunchy. There is also excellent use of panning with little motifs and leads being tossed around like sweets in a Catholic Church. The bass has a part to play as well despite the twin guitarists, which is a relief to me as a bassist myself. The vocals (yeah, I’m listing the instruments, and what?) are perfectly suited to the band. Ethereal yet soft and menacing, they really gives the songs some atmosphere. Imagine King Diamond without the falsetto. It's important they got them right, because anything else and I would probably shit myself laughing because the lyrics are corny. Corny as an, er, cornfield.
The mood they produce is a big plus. It sounds...well, evil. A track like Prime Mover is a great example as all instruments have a part to play and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, albeit a jigsaw with 5 pieces and in the shape of Satan murdering 1000 flaming goatwhores or something (I view the whole Beelzebub thing with a bit of scorn in case you didn't realize. This could probably be gathered from the fact I’m listening to Morrissey while I write this).
Of course, the score is not unblemished. A major gripe? It's not long enough. Okay, 34 minutes is hardly a rip off, but I found myself wanting more. An interesting bonus track that I have heard on Youtube, a cover of the Beatles' Here Comes the Sun, is only available on the Japanese version, but it's inclusion would go some way to solving the issue. I'm not sure why they left it out and bundled it off to Japan like the illegitimate son of a prostitute and a senator. They pull it off well and give a classic their own creepy vibe. Shivers down the spine kind of stuff.
To summarize, I thoroughly enjoyed the album and I’m sure anyone with a decent pair of headphones would too. It looks pretty standard at first glance, but the musicianship more than makes up for anything you may dislike about the style of this outfit. I really look forward to seeing this band maturing and seeing where it takes them. My eyes are peeled, whatever that means, anyway.
I know my doom. I am not being pretentious, but I am confident when I say I know my doom. I've loved the genre for years, a love which continues to grow and I have done my fair share of research. So, when I talk about doom metal I like to think I know what I am talking about.
Over the past few years Ghost has gained a lot of attention something very uncommon for the doom metal universe in the modern day, and the praise has been good, very good, in fact band has been lauded and has been put on a pedestal. It has by the declared by the masses as an occult supergroup (unsurprisingly from Sweden) that encompasses all that is metal, everything from the imagery to the songwriting to the lyrical themes. It has been hailed as the band to whom the heavy metal torch has been passed by greats like Mercyful Fate. So is the band worthy of the laudatory praise ? In a nutshell. No. In few more words, you ask ? Definitely not.
I am a part of the small but prominent share of the doom metal scene that firmly believes that the band is sub par at best that has received way more attention and positive reviews than it deserves. Bluntly put, this band is overrated as hell.If you are an ardent doom metal fanatic and follow it's developments, it's releases and new bands religiously you will know that a lot of new doom bands focus on the occult, and their releases have an occult drenched atmosphere which they have executed perfectly and gotten a good amount of attention and a hardcore fan following, bands like Hour of 13 and Blood Ceremony come to mind. So when I heard about this band and it's occult themes and it's country of origin I was pretty god damn excited. On top of that it was compared to Mercyful Fate, and I my heart was beating hard now. Seeing that in the bands in the recent past like Portrait, Heathendom and Attic had successfully captured the Mercyful Fate sound and instead of sounding as rip-offs sounded refreshingly good I was expecting to hear some good stuff.
I remember I was listening to Mercyful Fate's famous self titled EP when I got my hands on this and what followed next ? Well, let me put is discreetly. Mercyful Fate and it's music is a Michelin-starred meal. This on the other hand is overcooked porridge. This band sounds nothing like MF. The only possible similarity between MF and this distasteful band is the fact that both bands's front men brandished corpse-paint and the lyrical themes that centered around Satan. Stylistically the band can be compared a bit to Blue Oyster Cult because of it's eerie tinged atmosphere and song writing skills, the only difference between the bands being that even after 40 years BOC sounds awesome, while this band sounds boring halfway through the first listen. The album has 9 songs including an intro and the whole thing lasts about 35 mins with the longest track also being well below the 5 minute mark. So, more or less each track has almost the same length. Sadly, the same thing can be said about each song. They lack variation, substance and passion. All songs have the similar compositions. While the music that the band plays can be described as a mixture of heavy metal, hard rock, doom metal an uncanny pop metal essence and sensibility that can be felt throughout. The last time I heard when bands talked about Satan they sported a ton of emotion and sounded or at may times at least tried to sound evil, this band on the other hand sports an almost happy go lucky attitude and a pleasant attitude where you can imagine the band almost smiling and singing, and not a smile that The Joker would sport but a smile you or I would when we go to market to see a beer sale. Just listen to MF and the likes. Almost instantaneously and unknowingly one of your hands have the devil horns and the other has morphed into the invisible testicle crusher hold and this band brings about nothing, absolutely nothing. You cannot make doom or occult themed releases without a hardcore undying passion. It's trying to make thrash metal without the aggression or modern day power metal without the stale cheese. Try as you may, this passion lacking band did and failed.
Modern doom has a lot of retro stuff going on but this band just sounds like a band that is way past its prime with crystal clear production. Metal aims to be heavier and more extreme at it's core. Black Sabbath was pretty extreme when it made its debut in the music scene. Blue Oyster Cult was thinking man's metal, and as much as I love and respect both those bands I have to admit that in the new day they aren't any of those when compared to what is going around these days. Ghost in the same way is 35 years too late in this sense.
I compared this band to porridge earlier, and well porridge can be nutritious, delicious when properly prepared and served at the right time, which, most food-scheduling experts would agree, is at breakfast, and well the stuff here is not exactly complex or intricate material but they are for short periods entertaining and there are some passages on this album that make you grin but mainly it is bland cheesy pseudoevil stuff where the cons far outweigh the pros.
So, all in all this band has just bark and no bite. The corpse painted singer with satanic themes is a ripoff of well you know. And Papa Emiritus ? Could you guys not be a bit more original. A shameful ripoff of WWF's Papa Shango and his imagery.
So, why has this band become popular in a genre has almost constantly stayed away from commercial and mainstream fame and success ? 2 reasons in my opinion. Firstly, luck. No band can make it big without luck. Secondly, this band is like Opeth. Opeth made a breed of death metal that was widely accepted by the masses. They spawned a breed of fans that started calling themselves death metal fans solely after listening to them while at the same time hating and remaining oblivious to the forefathers of the genre. Ghost too is doing a similar thing but in the doom metal scene. By touring with bands like Foo Fighters and having Dave Grohl make special appearances in the band's new single it is clear the bands sole aim is financial success through filthying the doom metal by attempting to make it mainstream, and at the same time ignorantly turning a blind eye to everything doom metal stands for. After Opeth's mainstream success a lot of death metal bands turned rogue. Deicide made Satan a commercial personality and more and more bands started playing death metal for the masses and for the money, shaking the death metal rules to the very core. Genres like deathcore popped up which spat on the hallowed face of death metal. Will Ghost be the catalyst that does the same to doom metal ? All we can do is just wait and watch and silently pray that the only genre that has remained true to its roots since it's inception does not fall prey to the commercial world of music.
[Originally posted on Rateyourmusic.com]
When I first came to red about this album on Metal Archives, I had just taken a listen to the album, so I was really amazed. There weren't many reviews there yet, so I just felt I should say something. I ended up messing my review a little, but now I will have it much clearer and deeper, as deserved by this awesome group.
To begin, I must say Ghost's music simply has everything to grasp your attention and simply make you feel their music on your guts. Anything graspable can be found in their music. Groovy music played by skillful musicians blasting excellent lyrics. Such a net of qualities would usually make the music confusing and random-like. However, Ghost has such a cohesion and flawlessness in their music one can even feel inside it.
The album starts with Deus Culpa, an organ playing a very deep melody, an intro that doesn't fail in grasping your interesting. Then, there is an escalation of instruments to their first metal track, Con Clavi Con Dio, followed by 7 tracks of the same kind. In the end, there is a track called Genesis, consisted of many fast arpeggios, escalating and falling all throughout this thrilling track. These tracks communicate, creating a story that opens and closes. However, both for the name of the track and the way it escalates, I suspect there's another thing coming...
The approach this band has to occult themes is also very admirable. Their main inspiration of occultism wasn't either out of the blue nor totally new. Their riffs and lyrics is very near to bands such as Mercyful Fate and Angel Witch, while their licks and atmosphere seems to have something from Blue Öyster Cult and Pentagram. Only classics, simply and solely classics.
I'd say their instrumentation is particularly excellent, oscillating the focused instrument. A good example of this oscillation is the beginning of Con Clavi Con Dio, when a bass intro is followed by very well-played keyboards that lead the other instruments through an insane trip, then followed by the strong vocals made by Pope Emeritus. These instruments sound altogether like some dark orchestra playing metal.
These elements create altogether great music, always with energetic riffing, an awesome rhythm section and smart elements creating the main base, complemented by great vocals. This structure rises til it culminates in their catchy choruses and trippy solos. This whole structure makes their music very memorable.
This is only my analysis of the music itself, but that's not where Ghost's quality's over. This album has a production that's superior the average professionally produced album (which is a lot, considering no one from the staff was renowned for anything), and the band has a very interesting sense of aesthetics, with the amazing "satanist pope" and "nameless ghoul" costumes used by the band. Getting deeper into their image stuff, I'd say I admire their art all over the release (the multicolored vinyls, the cover, the amazing sketches on the booklet, and even the ink on the CD).
The result is unbelievable. I personally think Opus Eponymous is a debut that already sounds like a masterpiece. Bravo.
Ghost is a band I came across on Opeth's April 2012 US tour. At the time, I never heard them before (or even seen them) but I did know they were an opening act that I probably wouldn't care for, so I came a tad late and entered the venue in the middle of their set to six men cloaked in black gowns with their faces unrevealed and thought to myself "this definitely wasn't expected." Their music was also not half bad by what I could hear during their live performance in which I described as "a hybrid of progressive rock and doom metal." Little did I know, I was witnessing a performance of opening act that later grew to be yet another grand addition to my iPod.
This is Ghost's debut album, Opus Eponymous. The musical style that this band portrays is a little hard to describe. To some people I tell them "It's a metal version of The Blue Öyster Cult" and to others, I just proclaim it being "soft metal for the faint of heart." But what Ghost do do best isn't so much in what they sound like, but the fact that nobody knows who these six men are yet perform a style of music that really isn't too shabby.
Many of the tracks on this album range from moderate to slow tempo (usually in between) and most of the tunings of the guitarists aren't the same on two songs. There's even some heaps of surprises every now and then such as spooky keyboard outros, a few solos and and remarkable bass guitar performance. The drumming is your basic 4/4 time patterns, so there's nothing too big going on in that region other than me having to admit that it's good to once hear an album in this day an age where the drums are not programmed or triggered, which is a major relief.
One of the greatest factors I believe in Opus Eponymous, however, would definitely be its production. It's neither too loud or too soft, everything is where it should be and you can hear the bass guitar clearly 95% of the time. It is production done right, so right that I would call it perfect if it wasn't for the keyboard overlapping the guitars at times, but not a big flaw at all.
However, if I did have one complaint about this record (or Ghost as a whole) would be their vocalist's singing style. Yes Papa Emeritus does have a moderate range, but at times it just seriously feels like the notes he hits or the sounds he generates with his voice do not fit the music at all (get a load of the overly nerdy and nasally singing style he does in the intro for "Stand by Him") and if that isn't enough, he uses a studio effect on his voice to give it this echo-ing effect which makes the music sound a little awkward at times.
Overall, the record is a fun listen. Nine tracks may be a tad too short, but my greatest hopes lie in Emeritus adopting an alternate vocal style by Ghost's second LP. The album is a good album, and Ghost I believe are a great band and they're only just finding their potential.
Ghost made a real mark in metal when their release of 2010’s “Opus Eponymous”, which I believe is a fancy way of saying ‘self-titled album’, hit the scene. This is an interesting band from Sweden who, in the vein of Portal or Ghoul, conceal their identities behind masks and false names. Much like Portal, they have sort of an anti-pope Satanic image going on, however unlike either band, rather than an aggressive style of ‘splatterthrash’ or black/death metal, Ghost have instead decided to take a more throwback metal approach.
Their style rings heavily of Blue Oyster Cult meets Black Sabbath, featuring Melissa-era King Diamond writing lyrics. This is probably as accurate as I can get. It has the catchy riffs and vocal lines you might expect of Blue Oyster Cult around their “Fire of Unknown Origin”-era mixed with a darker atmosphere, and the synth sometimes works towards both the Blue Oyster Cult comparison and a darker tone, depending on the song.
Lyrically, they’re never fantastic. I suppose it doesn’t help that I’ve always found the whole “hail Satan” theme kind of generic and overdone, but sometimes they’re just goofy. “Our Father who art in Hell” gets me every time, as well as the pronunciation of Eliza-Beth. And yet, the cheesy Satan lyrics simply bring early Mercyful Fate to mind. Yes, “I was born in a cemetery, under the sign of the moon” is cheesy. Fun, but cheesy.
The vocals. ‘Papa Emeritus’ as our vocalist/dead pope as he likes to be known…let’s just say he sounds an awful lot like a certain deaththrash death growler–slash-vocalist for a Swedish indie/punk band. At this point a simple Google search will give you an idea as to who he may or may not be. He’s a solid vocalist using a somewhat high range on certain parts and the occasional death growl, but that’s pretty uncommon. He also utilizes a sort of choir effect sometimes, or at least overdubbing vocals over vocals, which works out pretty well on some of the catchier choruses. However, I feel like when he hits his high notes his voice sounds a little light. It never becomes a King Diamond screech, but it just doesn’t have the power of a Bruce Dickinson. Perhaps a good comparison may be an Andre Matos, but with nowhere near the range. Although Andre can hit great highs, once he gets to a certain point it sounds weak, almost airy? Except this isn’t NEARLY has high. That said, having seen Ghost live, it was obvious the band tuned-down a bit and used a bit more punchy distortion so Papa was probably singing a bit lower, but he sounded fantastic and he may want to consider recording the next album like that. Although I’m sure the production job did him no favors.
The production on the album is flat. I feel pretty confident this was to accent the whole '70s sound of the album, but I feel like in some places it could use a little work. Like how the vocals are so accented on the somewhat weak-sounding falsetto notes. On the other hand, there are plenty of parts where it really works and you almost forget this ISN’T a 1970’s release.
As far as the music, there are a few heavy moments, like the intro to Elizabeth, but it never really gets much heavier than mid-paced. Stylistically, the majority of the album is 1970’s prog-rock/metal style almost all the way though, although they throw in a little doom. Death Knell is very doomy, almost reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s title track until the chorus. The two instrumental tracks are probably the most noteworthy otherwise. The intro is an organ piece which, at first, wouldn't sound out of place in a church until it become much darker. Genesis closes the album as a very cool instrumental with a few moments of acoustic guitar near the end. The rest of the album is pretty consistent, so there isn’t much to say about individual tracks. I’d say Prime Mover is my least favorite and Elizabeth is my favorite, but most of the album is consistent enough that there are no standout flaws. Unfortunately, that also means there’s no standout greatness. For the most part I just think Elizabeth is the catchiest and Prime Mover gets a little boring, but at less than 4 minutes long it hardly matters.
If you dig Blue Oyster Cult or '70s prog rock, then this isn’t a bad album to check out. If that’s not your thing, then move along. The biggest problem I have is it stays, for the most part, so consistent that it feels like at no point was the band compelled to take a risk. No song really cracks 4 and a half minutes, and even the instrumental, the most progressive sounding part of the album, never takes it very far. It’s sort of like a prog-rock album with the prog sound, but no real prog parts. Not that I want an hour long Phish jam, but a little instrumental work wouldn’t hurt. Nevertheless, it’s a fun, catchy album, and even if it plays it a little too safe, it’s a decent thing to spend a half an hour listening to. Hopefully when these guys put out their next one, they’ll have some of the few flaws this album shows worked out. Additionally, I know it’s not in their current style, but as long as Papa can death growl, it couldn’t hurt to utilize that a bit more. I mean, I’m not saying put out a damn death metal album, but hell, we can heavy this up a little right? Regardless, a decent debut, and I’ll be looking forward to what Ghost has for us next.
In 2010, Ghost has reached a lot of publicity inside the metal world and hyped to no end from the gimmick, sound, and overall presentation. Many sites have given this album great reviews and hailed for being different. Many have. While it is a good album overall, I found one big problem with the album and the question is... is it everlasting?
Alright! By judging from the lyrics, it is about our favorite over-sized retarded red goat that lives downstairs and the music is as equivalent as the Sesame Street choir writing songs for murderers with joy. As many stated, the music sounds like a 60's or 70's psychedelic with a touch of doomy heavy metal but instead being all too gloomy, it is supposed to be all fun and somewhat up-beat, is it? For some parts, they are fun but NOT THAT much and it is often compared to Mercyful Fate and this is because it is mainly coming from the vocals.
In my opinion, the album does take some time until I get something interesting. We have a small organ intro with Deus Culpa and then, the album kicks with Con Clavi Con Dio with a heavy bass and decent riff and atmosphere and we get the vocals which is clean and nicely done, the guy can sing and it is nice to hear something clean and Satanic without having to do Black Metal and all. So, the song begins fine but the chorus does bore me, quite honestly. So, to me the album takes some time until it kicks into something special and here comes, Ritual. Whenever someone tells me about Ghost, the first song would pop up in mind is Ritual. The song is catchy, fun, has great vocals, nice guitars and solos, and atmosphere. It is the perfect song for the band. Elizabeth was the first song which is slightly darker and rich of atmosphere with the organs and instrumentation going on. However, the fun just stops till Death Knell.
While Death Knell and Prime Mover have the same formula, it gets a bit old even for such a short album and I, personally, find Prime Mover to be such a boring song overall especially the chorus for the main reason, the vocalist would go into "supposed-to-be-creepy" mode which instead of making it interesting... it makes the song dull, even though, I know, what were they trying to do here but the entire song falls flat. It's not bad but weak and the lyrics get a bit tiring by this point. As for Genesis, while it is a nice instrumental but if I blind-folded you and without telling you anything about the band and made you listen to it, it sounds like a space-y rock material. It's nicely composed but doesn't sound like Ghost.
After going through the tracks and giving a general sound, there is a problem. We're almost 2 years since the release of the album but it seems the effect has been worn out and even for such a short album. I can listen to albums from the 70's and 80's and still find new things about them and they still interest me. However, with Opus Eponymous, it does start to wear out. With the amount of success the band has and if this isn't a one-thing project, the band might do another album but will it have the same element? If that would happen, it is like repeating the album again with a different title album and different title songs with a verse-chorus-verse-chorus structured songs.
So, overall, the band is talented and everyone plays the instruments right and the overall album has great fun filled atmosphere without being too dark. The majority of the album is good but not great only for Ritual and Elizabeth which they stand-out and the formula seems to be repeated throughout the album having little to no difference. So, if you want to buy it, go ahead but as a personal note, the album seems to be lying next to the bunch of many CDs without thinking of listening to it anytime soon.
Many arguments have been made for and against Sweden's latest metallic superstar Ghost, but there is no denying that they place a rather refreshing spin on the re-risen popularity of traditional doom and heavy metal by refining it with a tinge of 70s pop rock influence, in particular the faux occult stylings of artists like Black Widow or the late 60s Coven. In fact, I've gotten more requests to review their full-length debut Opus Eponymous than any other album in memory, and while I'm a year late, its hour has come at last. One might describe their sound as a hybrid of Blue Öyster Cult and Mercyful Fate and not be far off the mark, with the clean, psychedelic rocking atmosphere of the former and the piercing vocals and rusted metallic grime of the latter, even if Papa Emeritus doesn't utilize anything near the shrill falsetto of the King himself, nor his decrepit narrative mids.
Where the album really works is in its layered use of melody through both the primary and backup vocals to create a soothing, almost 60s vibe you don't often hear on the heavier end of the rock spectrum. The guitars are incredibly clean, given only the slightest tinge of distortion, and yet they're still loaded with riffs. Naturally, as you might expect of any band whose stage attire includes ominous robes and a cardinals' attire, there are going to be pipe organs, and they are used sparsely and effectively to offset the leads and rhythms. Other tricks include monk chanting ("Con Clavi Con Dio"), Sabbath-like doom breaks ("Death Knell"), or Zombi styled progressive instrumental bits ("Genesis"), but I personally found the band to be at their best when they were just rocking along with their cheesy, Satanic lyrics and fine if understated guitar licks; cult/camp horror underpinnings are cruise control for retro-ghouls.
There are songs here which frankly kill, and then others which, while consistent with their betters, don't build up the same quality of melodic vocal lines or chorus segments. "Con Clavi Con Dio" does wonders to set the stage for the heavy rock equivalent of a Hammer Horror film, with its dark, ghostly lyrical meter and chantings. "Ritual" is an obvious standout for its great chorus and surefooted mid-paced verses. "Elizabeth" flourishes for the speedier licks in the verse and another unforgettable haunted house chorus. "Prime Mover" was another successful piece for its layered, Pink Floyd-ish vocals and pipes. But then there are pieces like "Stand By Him" which feels primarily like a retread of "Ritual", or "Satan Prayer" which seems throwaway apart from a few of the vocal lines. Opus Eponymous clearly hits its target more often than its misses, but it would be dishonest for me to claim it's the masterpiece some have made out.
While the utter polish of the production gives it that nostalgic appeal for 60s/70s pop that the band were no doubt going for, I feel that the lead vocal lines often come out a bit wimpy. Part of this might be Papa's accent, but I'd like to hear him mix in some more lower range passages to give it a better balance. Also, the songwriting could use a spike more variation to capture the breadth of the spooky subject matter. A bunch of samey paced and plotted hymns to the devil seem safe enough for the debut album, but they might inevitable bore the Old Goat if the Swedes can't stretch themselves. Those gripes aside, though, I have certainly had fun with the album enough that it's gotten a few dozen rotations over the past year, and they've got plenty enough of a future ahead of them that their style could damn well explode beyond the 'what's old is new again' aesthetic hanging so heavily from its cobwebbed rafters.
As much as I'd like to expound the music on this album, there's just no way to do so without droning on at length about its obvious influences: Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, etc. Instead, I'll simply say that this is the best "throwback" album I've ever heard. It religiously adheres to everything which dictated the sound of 70's rock and the progenitors of metal. There are a few sections which tip a hat to the more familiar areas of doom metal, but overall the music just sounds like a Satanic Blue Oyster Cult. Even if you're not a metal fan, this album is spilling over with catchy rock anthems that'll have you singing worship for Satan before you know it. The instrumental track at the end even has a very video-game soundtrack vibe to it, much like something you might hear while playing R-Type, Lifeforce/Salamander or any other old space-shooters.
Ghost steals your soul on the first listen, and you'll just keep on coming back for more. Buy this album and support an amazing band! If you're ever able to catch a live show, you MUST go see them. They're the best live band I've seen in a very long time.
Highlights: Con Clavi Con Dio, Elizabeth, Stand By Him, Death Knell, Genesis
Ghost are a mysterious band from Sweden with anonymous band members that play a mixture of early heavy or doom metal mixed with some psychedelic rock influences and lyrics about demons, occultism and Satanism. Even though the cover and lyrics seem to indicate a harsh album, the band actually plays very smooth metal music with catchy choruses and a strong old school touch. I hear elements of Black Sabbath, Merciful Fate, Angel Witch, Blue Öyster Cult and Iron Butterfly in the band's sound.
The songs are really hypnotizing and create from the organ introduction "Deus culpa" on a dark and eerie atmosphere without being too blackened. The tracks all follow the same structure, they are quite short, they have catchy choruses and mix eerie keyboard sounds with simple riffs and smooth doom vocals. The most interesting track is probably "Death Knell" with its atmospheric keyboard and bell sounds but I must also mention the instrumental “Genesis” that convinces with keyboard sounds, a dominating bass guitar, tribal drums, haunting guitar melodies and smooth acoustic guitars in the very end while the dreamy "Ritual" has the best chorus on the record that won't abandon your mind in the near future.
The album would perfectly fit to an eerie horror movie of the late seventies and as this record works like an almost conceptual score, I highly suggest listening to this album in one shot because you can't really pick out a song and listen to it alone. The band creates an atmosphere that gets more and more intriguing the further you get drowned into this album. They are great artists and don't only concentrate on the music itself but also on the whole image with a mysterious cover artwork, an old fashioned booklet and the mysteries surrounding the band members. Even if they don't reinvent the genre and clearly copy some of their idols, the concept works and the album is truly absorbing and a welcome change of style in my collection. Ghost bring a unique genre somewhere between old doom metal and traditional psychedelic rock back to life that had disappeared for a long time. I hope to see this band develop further and bring out an album with a longer running time and a more unique approach very soon but this debut is promising and leaves me wanting more.
Ghost had the world in their demonic hands right from the start. The group’s gimmicky presence – Satanic lyrics, anonymous members, ear-candy heavy metal like Mercyful Fate seducing Blue Öyster Cult, elaborate costumes, etc. – became a household name for metal fans everywhere within weeks of “Opus Eponymous” rising from obscurity to a booming buzz of hype and overtly-positive press. There’s no doubt the members of Ghost are geniuses; they’ve successfully hooked music fans worldwide with seductive metal so sweet and attractive that even metal’s antagonizing counterparts will be caught in the sensually-charged choruses and swiping hooks like flies on sticky paper. “Opus Eponymous” is as trippy as it is pleasing, although it’s quite surprising to me that so few people bellyache about the group’s visible mixture of heavy metal and pop rock. The record is nevertheless very memorable, and getting these tunes to leave your head will be quite the daunting task once you enter the gloomy castle of Ghost.
Ghost basically uses retrogressive heavy metal fried over a coat of 70s rock ala Blue Öyster Cult, featuring piping keyboards, driving riffs, catchy choruses, and everything associated with said-identity. The guitarists groove out easy, chiming riffs like doom bands from metal's upbringing; nothing perfect, yet certainly easy to digest and good for head-bobbing. The singer's dramatic incantations are rightfully suited for the 70s-orchestrated postulate and the sing-a-long choruses that dominate "Opus Eponymous" in every way possible, although it should be noted his octaves are limited and range seldom deviating. However, his entrancing chimes grant Ghost's jamming texture with more ups than downs; his voice is purely natural in this ghostly setting despite minimal variation or enthralling qualities.
There isn't anything sophisticated or sensationally original about Ghost, but these Swedes are too charming and charismatic to ignore. Every track is memorable in its own right: "Ritual" has a stellar chorus, "Elizabeth" shines with monstrous riffs, "Genesis" explodes into a melodic solo that never rots, "Prime Mover" sounds like a Mercyful Fate reprise...the list goes on and on. Ghost gives a fantastic performance based solely on memorable moments, nothing more. In fact, it becomes quite the chore to remove "Opus Eponymous" after its been given any attention; it plants a seed which becomes a blooming incense of countless spins and addictive fun. Marketing Satan has never been so accessible!
But other factors influence the success of "Opus Eponymous" as well, such as chunky production which balances the instrumental equation, spicy keyboards that drizzle a hint of elegant lustfulness, and the drummer's mechanical percussion which keeps Ghost balanced and driven with melodic flavor. Overall, the ease and catchiness makes "Opus Eponymous" a memorable effort that grows on the listener with every listen, and while Ghost is far from original, these mysterious gentlemen know how to write captivating, enjoyable metal which swoops and swishes with so many noteworthy hooks that "Opus Eponymous" can truly defend the masses gathering around the blackened chapel in which evil dwells. Needless to say, Ghost is nothing short of incredible, both musically and conceptually.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Ghost has gotten an awful lot of hype over just the last few months, beginning with the praise they received from Darkthrone's Fenriz. The band essentially came out of nowhere and are one of the hotter bands right now. To go along with that sudden hype often comes scorn though and the backlash has started over the last few weeks or so.
I have heard this album a couple of times now and I have to say that I absolutely love it. I would have liked to have heard it earlier though so their place in my top albums of the year would have been clear. They would have likely come in somewhere in the Top 5.
I have read a lot of comments comparing the band to Mercyful Fate, but I think this is seriously misguided. The atmosphere of horror and darkness probably could be compared to that of Mercyful Fate, but I think the band sounds a lot more like 1970's rock bands such as Blue Oyster Cult, a group I have enjoyed for a long time. Many of the songs sound as if they could have easily been recorded by the same band as recorded "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "I Love the Night", "Death Valley Nights", and "Nosferatu".
Ghost's music is driven by heavy, doom-laden guitar riffs. The music is extremely infectious and often sticks with the listener after hearing it. The vocals too are very impressive. The singer, none of the band members are named as of yet, utilizes a clean tone almost all of the time. His vocals soar over the stunning riffs and catchy melodies.
Obviously, the aspect that gets the band so much attention is the lyrical content. Billed as Satanic ritualistic lyrics, they are clearly meant to capture attention. It is rare indeed for a metal band who sings about the kind of topics found on this album to also feature such stunningly clean vocals. Despite this, it does not feel like a gimmick to me. This band is serious about what they do, and they do it all very well.
I was looking very much forward to hearing this album after the hype machine began running. It is even better than I expected it to be. This is a great album.
Full blown 70's nostalgia, meet Satan. Ghost's debut album Opus Eponymous, is as interesting as it is perplexing. Rife with riff after riff, and loaded with classic sing along choruses, Opus Eponymous would be right at home sandwiched between Machine Head, and Tyranny and Mutation in the used section of your favorite record store, covered in dust and reeking of pot. Yet, despite its classic rock roots, Opus Eponymous possesses a more sinister goal, Satanic salvation.
Ghost aspires to some form of candy-coated Satanism, but has badly misjudged its audience. If their intention was swaying 13 year olds to the dark side with sickeningly sweet melodies, sure, chalk one up for the wicked one. However, this is an album made for metalheads. With the progenitors and practitioners of Satanism residing largely in the deadly serious realm of black metal, Ghost seem more imposter than intermediary. The entire Opus Eponymous experience for that matter feels more like an episode of Scooby-Doo (complete with fully costumed bad guy, Necro-Pope), than Satanic ritual. The lyrics exemplify cliché, and the costumes belong on the Halloween sale rack, but despite these complaints, I can't seem to turn the album off. Who knows, maybe Satan needs a family-friendly face lift after all.
Musically, Ghost dwells along the threshold between classic rock and metal, melding Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and a slew of similar vinyl club favorites dipped it in a touch of evil. The guitars split time between classic rock riffing, occasionally diminishing a 5th or a 2nd for effect, and sliding through simple, yet effective, lead passages. The keys ominously flow in and out, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of classic horror films, while both the drums and bass rely on simplicity, ensuring a continuous surge of head bobs (I couldn't imagine head banging to this album). Vocally, Ghost invokes the power of the Dark Lord with major key harmonies that would make Crosby, Stills, and Nash proud. Utilizing a rather limited, yet comfortable range, Ghost has created a windows down, stereo up, highway driving, Satanic sing along.
Opus Eponymous has earned numerous accolades for their songwriting prowess and deservedly so. Rather than pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a song like so many bands that get praised for their songwriting acumen, Ghost focuses on simplicity, reminding us all why the intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format has made artists around the globe filthy rich and famous. The songs are addicting, sporting well developed, pervasive hooks. Each song on the album is distinct without feeling out of place and sits comfortably between 3 and 5 minutes. In addition, each song features enough build and release to stay fresh, even through repeat spins. Ironically enough, Opus Eponymous is a clinic on writing radio friendly pop songs for a genre that has all but shunned radio.
On the production end, Opus Eponymous nails 70s throwback, right down to the hot tape sizzle of old analog recordings. The Bass, refreshingly audible even on the worst of systems, thumps slowly but deliberately, anchoring the ballsy British crunch of the guitars. The keys float inconspicuously, never fighting for sonic space, and consistently providing atmosphere. Dipped in substantial reverb and delay, the vocals sit prominently at the head of the mix, reflective of pop styling more than metal, but never overbearing. That said, Opus Eponymous desperately lacks any sort of edge. For a band that flirts so openly with evil, the production should roar. Instead, its as vicious as a Pomeranian.
Suffer as it may from these inconsistencies, the album art kills. This is the kind of cover designed for vinyl in its 12" glory. Simple and effective , Opus Eponymous's presentation should be a lesson to all bands with convoluted, over-photo-shopped covers, especially in an age where most will purchase a CD copy, or view it as a thumbnail on their mp3 player. I could just as easily blow this up and hang it on my wall as I could sift through it in my digital library.
Like any good episode of Scooby-Doo we'll have to wait for the end of the episode for Ghost's great uncloaking. Will their diabolical plan to deliver Satanism packaged as highly accessible classic rock succeed? Will they amount to anything more than a minor speed bump on metal's tireless journey? Will those meddling kids ever discover their true identity? Are they merely the creepy gas station attendants? Maybe the conspicuous groundskeepers? Better yet, are they an amalgam of Swedish superstars hiding beneath inky cloaks to produce a record their respective genres won't allow? Regardless of devious plans, staying power, or true identity, Ghost have produced a rocking good album for rocking good times that will satiate nostalgic desires when Tyranny and Mutation for the 500th time simply won't cut it.
Originally posted at http://www.tracksrocks.com/tracksblog
Perhaps no debut album of 2010 was hyped more than Ghost's Opus Eponymous. Even though much of the hype is based on a misguided idea that "actual songs" are disappearing from metal, I have to say that Ghost deserves the hype.
These Swedes have not revealed their identities, and claim that they try to make ultra-accessible music in order to seduce people to Satan. If you believed their stated motive for even a second, I pity you, because with the cheesy "evil pope" outfit worn by the frontman and the Mercyful Fate-esque lyrics, it's pretty clear this is all just a show. And what a show it is. They've often been touted as Blue Öyster Cult meets Mercyful Fate, but outside of the image the MF influence is much more subtle than the obvious BÖC similarities.
"Prime Mover", the most metal track on the album, contains some very modern experiments in dissonance. But if you throw that out they sound like they could be from the 70's, old-school classic rock vocals and electric organ in tow. "Satan Prayer" is the most classic rock-sounding cut, but you'll hear it everywhere (like the opening to "Ritual"). The organ is used very cleverly, especially on "Con Clavi Con Dio" and album standout "Death Knell". There are some forays into more metallic riffs, but like BÖC they straddle the boundary between metal and rock. The guitar and bass even have a similar tone. The bass tone has been a point of contention for many. It's mixed very well and has a good sound on the surface, but its sound is not particularly rich; I would guess this was a conscious decision to sound more like an old-fashioned recording.
What makes the album work is the memorable melodies and catchy choruses in every song. And who's ever heard such catchy choruses with such disturbing lyrical content? The ballad "Elizabeth" ("Forever young, Elizabeth Bathory in the castle of your death"). The crazy-good "Ritual" (This chapel of ritual / Smells of dead human sacrifices / From the altar"). And, catchiest of all, "Stand by Him" ("It is the night of the witch / It is the night of the witch tonight / And the vengeance is hers for as long as she stands by him"). It's all part of the fun.
The Verdict: No, I don't think memorability is the be-all end-all of what makes music good (interesting is more important than catchy). And I don't believe Ghost are single-handedly bringing it back (bands like Unleashed have been doing it all along, and bands like Dawnbringer are pumping new blood into it all the time). But nobody's doing it any better than Ghost, either. Opus Eponymous is an incredible album.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Ghost's debut album has been getting a lot of buzz lately. I am often skeptical about new bands that everyone raves about. All to often, they end up being some trendy band with a gimmick and no real talent. So when I heard about a band from Sweden with unknown members and a Satanic priest in band photos, I had my doubts about whether it would be good. Was I ever wrong about this album, it turned out to be one of the best releases of 2010.
"Opus Eponymous" is an awesome throwback, if someone told me that this record was made in the late seventies or early eighties, I would have believed them in a second. When I say it is a throwback I don't mean its an all out rip off of old bands, it just features the sound of another era. It sounds like a mix of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult and Deep purple, with a little Candlemass put into the mix. Their sound is doom-ridden yet strangely uplifting, with psychedelic keyboards thrown in for good measure. Even though this album came out 40 years after heavy metal was given birth, it could have very well came out when Ozzy was still singing for Black Sabbath.
All the members are very talented at their respective instruments, so I am left wondering about their true identities. Who are these amazing musicians? The clean melodic singing is captivating. Both the creepy melodies and catchy choruses keep my interest the whole album through. For the past week, the exceptional vocals on "Satan Prayer" have been playing on endless repeat in my head. The guitar work is truly refreshing. This album is packed with amazing riffs and memorable leads. The lead guitar on "Genesis" is not something I will be forgetting soon. We also get a taste of some really tight drumming. Most metal bands downplay the bass, in many albums it is all but inaudible. Not so with this record, many unique mini bass solos are scattered throughout the album. All this amazing musicianship really makes me want to know who the members are. Are they new musicians? Is it a super group made up of members of prominent metal bands? I have heard rumors on the internet that it features members of Watain. Only time will tell.
Each song on this album is amazing. From the classic rock keyboards on "Death Knell" to the subtle genius of the intro to "Ritual", there is not a dull moment. This album is not very long, but that is not a bad thing. Often bands feel the need to include filler to make their albums longer. Ghost only includes the good stuff and I am thankful for that, the result being an album that is highly enjoyable from start to finish.
While they are not exactly reinventing metal, they are doing a damn good job at playing a classic sound. This is one of the best albums I have heard by a band that plays this type of music in a long time. This will appeal to not just fans of metal, but also fans of good old rock and roll. If you haven't checked this band out yet, do yourself a favor and get this album.
Ghost are quite the phenomenon. In the space of 2 or 3 weeks they went from being largely unheard of to the most hyped band of the moment. Their debut “Opus Eponymous”, with a nod towards Salem’s Lot by way of artwork, exploded onto the scene and blew everyone away with its satanic lyrics, the luring, cult atmosphere beckoning the listener to step closer and the incredible catchiness described by Rise Above as “an almost unthinkable pop sensibility”.
Each and every song is laden with doom and melody simultaneously, with haunting vocals (melodic at that, a good example that you don’t need shrieks or growls for such an evil atmosphere) soaring over riffs and beat-perfect drumming and the occasional eerie Hammond part adding what I’ll describe as a religious, or even a sacrosanct aura to these satanic hymns. This isn’t satanic like Funeral Mist, Ondskapt or any fellow Swedes of their ilk; this is Mercyful Fate-esque occult heavy metal with the captivating vocals and psychedelic, memorable riffs.
I like to think evil is the anti-conscience on your shoulder that says “Go on, I dare you” and not so much the whole goat-sacrificing business, that’s far too much of a baptism by fire. Vulnerable mortals need tempting and luring with the promise of reward, and that’s exactly the kind of evil Ghost deliver. This album’s an absolute belter and instantly took the “Album of the Year” award from me, it makes me more comfortable with the idea of Mercyful Fate being unlikely to release any new material knowing these guys are about. I can’t flaw it, and so it deserves no less than full marks.
May the Ghouls have a long and fruitful career.
So Ghost are a band from Sweden whose members are not named, all pictures of them they are cloaked and masked, with the exception of what can only be described as a satanic priest. Oh and they play 70's inspired psychadelic doom metal. What's not to like?
It's odd to review a band without mentioning names of the members yet one listen to Opus Eponymous and I totally forgot the mystery shrouding the band. From strange organ opener Deus Culpa into the opening bass of Con Clavi Con Dio it is quite obvious where Ghost have their influences, part Blue Öyster Cult, part Sabbath and equally part Pagan Altar. Ghost are really the most cult band you'll hear this year and they do it without as much as a single scream or growl. Rather the vocals featured are far more reminicent to that of Eric Bloom than Ozzy Osbourne with a definate nod to doom and with lyrics verging on the border of cheesy the band retain their seriousness with tracks like Elizabeth, yes it's another song above Bathory, yet with each track Ghost have carved perfectly catchy choruses whilst retaining a threateningly dark mood, in fact it actually seems they believe what they are singing.
The guitar work is incredible, just like Pagan Altar blend nwobhm and doom together Ghost take the formula one step further and include that eerie psychadelic sound with Ritual laced with haunting melodies, both guitar and organ. There's a huge ode to Candlemass on the most doom inflused track Death Knell with very downtuned and slow almost sludge parts.
It's not just the guitar that makes the album so well done musically, the bass and drums are far above competant, rather on album closer and instrumental track Genesis showcasing how all members of the band, whoever they may be, are perhaps gifted with talents from the horned one.
Cheesy devil worshiping or genuine cult metal? I'm sure that Ghost will be desputed for a long time about this, yet as far as great debuts are concerned Ghost may have just taken the biscuit in 2010. May there be more satanic hymns from Ghost.