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Overdue ritual of devilish ecstasy - 90%

kluseba, December 16th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Universal

In the beginning of its career, Ghost received massive criticism for its apparently lackluster live performances which may have been due to the fact that the band opened for household names of the heavy metal scene that obviously had better chemistry on stage. However, over the past few years, the band has become more dynamic, energizing and entertaining on stage and has also developed bigger stage productions, more impressive backdrops and unique costumes. Ceremony and Devotion is the climax of this development and shows us one of the best live bands in the entire scene at its peak. I have attended a show of the Popestar tour myself and was very impressed. This live document represents the magic on stage and in the audience perfectly.

There are only two minor elements to criticize, so let's get them out of the way. First of all, the digital version of the release omits two additional tracks with ''Elizabeth'' and ''Secular Haze'' which will be included on the physical version of this release in about a month. It would have been great to have the physical editions out before Christmas and to actually release both versions simultaneously, especially since the two missing songs are highlights in Ghost's short but intense career so far. The second point that doesn't make sense to me is that the band didn't release the live record with its visual aesthetics. Ghost's visual extravagance makes the live experience so much greater than just the music. It would have been great to offer the full Ghost live package that makes this band so outstanding. Let's cross our fingers that Ghost will eventually release a live BluRay or DVD.

Other than that, the fifteen songs performed on this record sound clear, energizing and entertaining. The crowd is audible enough to transmit a vivid atmosphere. The communication between the lead singer and the fans is entertaining and never feels redundant or stretched. The hypnotizing clean vocals sound even better on stage than in studio. Especially the melodic guitar sound as well as the atmospheric organ keyboard sounds make this live offering a gripping black mass. Ghost's talent to write tracks that are equally atmospheric and catchy becomes even more obvious on this record than on any studio album. The set list covers the greatest tracks from the band's three studio albums and numerous singles and EPs from sinister and heavy tracks like ''Mummy Dust'' to the satanic sixties' rock ballad ''He Is''.

Ceremony and Devotion is the perfect deal for fans of long date who have been craving for a first official live release. It's also an outstanding introduction to the band and everything that defines it for occasional or new fans. Anyone who likes traditional hard rock and heavy metal with a melodic and occult note should own this release. Ghost's quality has become more reliable than the Pope's. Hallelujah!