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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]