Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Like opening an empty birthday present. - 20%

Empyreal, August 23rd, 2015

Ghost has gotten a lot of popularity, but I didn't hear anything after their rather average debut until now. Judging by their newest, Meliora, they've expanded their sound a bit – these songs are poppier and lighter with maybe a smidgen more outside influence, which isn't bad. But the lighter and more open sound just serves to point out how utterly rote and bland the songwriting is.

None of these songs are unpleasant exactly, but the songwriting is strictly repetitive to the point where you've heard everything a song has to offer after the first chorus. The riffs sound like background royalty-free radio music that would be played in-between other songs on classic rock radio. They really are like the Muzak versions of Black Sabbath or Blue Oyster Cult songs – no depth, no nuance, no heaviness; just the bare minimum of what's required for a song. I get the feeling they were trying to evoke the simplicity of many old rock bands, but it doesn't work because the classic bands never had riffs this boring – the riffs are not the focus here, so as a rock or metal album, this is a total failure. There's no effort to recreate the kind of virtuosic riffing or soloing any of their obvious influences had 40 years ago – it comes off like what a bunch of modern tech-obsessed extreme metal fans think old metal and rock was like. “Oh, it's older, it must be simple, right? There's nothing else that goes into that style.”

The choruses and keyboard melodies are obviously more the focus here, like a light pop album, which is fine in theory, except, again – they repeat and repeat without any kind of ingenuity. The melodies simply aren't good enough to sustain this kind of repetition. The vocals have gotten a lot better since his sorry-assed performance on the debut, but he still isn't singing any really good vocal lines – and his semi-whispered, droning tone gets old after the first few songs. The only reason there are any catchy moments is because the melodies are strictly generic, orthodox sounding pop hooks, and repeated endlessly with the hope of drilling them into your skull.

The songwriting on this just sucks, frankly, and the band is content to regurgitate stale cliche at every turn. “Spirit” is a terrible opener, with an extremely obvious, generic chorus hook with the title chanted in an obvious attempt at making an anthem. They get some decent parts on “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” and “Cirice,” and “He Is” is listenable, too – but those songs don't really offer anything beyond the generic standard for rock songs, and they wear out their hooks through repetition by the end. “Mummy Dust” is an awful attempt at a heavier sound, with a weak riff and a terrible whispered chorus. “Majesty” opens up with a Deep Purple organ-sound and riff homage that really just serves to point out how enervated and dull this is compared to the attitude and gusto Purple used to have. Oh, and the chorus is awful.

The final song, “Deus in Absentia,” is an “epic” clocking in at a jaw-dropping five minutes and thirty-eight seconds, which means you get an extra three repetitions of the bland chorus on that one. It also has a 40-second church choir outro which, in addition to being extremely passe in 2015, serves no purpose except to drag this out longer. For an album only forty minutes long with two interlude tracks, this is surprisingly dragging and dull to listen to, and it feels way longer than it is.

If all you want is poppy hooks with a Satanic atmosphere, you'll like this fine. But it's really pretty empty, musically, and there's no depth here – not because of the pop influences, but because the songwriting is extremely threadbare and uninteresting, and the riffs are bad. It's strictly surface-level – once you get beyond the harmonized vocals and the keyboards, there's nothing there, like opening a birthday present to find it's just an empty box. You can do better than this. Demand more from your music. Listen to better stuff.