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Hollow, gutless and soulless. Kinda like a ghost! - 23%

Napalm_Satan, November 4th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Loma Vista Recordings

I have always had an issue with some forms of retro-styled metal, and Ghost is a pretty good example of what I dislike so much about this new idea of 'traditional metal'. These guys, unlike the hipster losers that are The Sword, clearly know their metal and their influences, and so I can't knock them for not caring about the genre or just appropriating it. That said though, this still falls into most of the same pitfalls as Age of Winters. This is ultimately completely disposable music, one which has a distinct lack of substance.

One issue is this fixation on 'being retro'. You see this with a few bands - it is where everything is so simple and fucking dumb, because hey, 'they hadn't invented the blast beat yet!'. It just reeks of a really fucking narrow-minded view on what oldschool metal was all about - that all there was to it was the simplicity and slowness. Not, you know, the quality and 'motion' of the riffs, the genuinely creepy atmosphere because nothing else was like it, the prog rock leanings of the '70s, the production, none of that. This stupid idea holds back any and all creativity on this disc, resulting in what is basically 'classic rock band no. 9246'. This is utterly faceless and generic, and frankly is just as bland and uninspired as radio rock, but with a outer sheen of classic '70s influences. This overarching stench of soulless banality, of deliberate dumbing down and restraint in the name of marketing is all over this goddamn thing. This hollow turd is about as vapid as it gets, to be honest.

One place this is evident is the songwriting, which is just so fucking... lazy. Holy shit guys, you can do better than this. This is motherfucking Nickelback levels of songwriting - whereby the songs really have nothing to offer beyond what they present in the first one and a half to two minutes of their runtimes. Beyond the choruses and the 2 - 3 riffs per song, there is nothing to these. The songs themselves have no purpose, no objective, and indeed, they go nowhere in particular. They just keep playing and looping until the band realise that they have to stop or it won't get on the radio!

The performances here aren't exactly amazing either. The riffs are of the generic 'retro-styled' variety, but are also completely boring and non-aggressive. They lack the rocking, hard edged quality that great albums of the '70s had, in addition to the overall sense of drive provided by them. They are in fact very fluffy and filler-like, not having an ounce of aggression or mood put into them, or indeed any sort of creativity at all. Everything else is utterly bare bones too, the drummer is a functional timekeeper that does nothing more, and the bassist just follows the guitars. The album doesn't sound thin though, so his most basic role is fulfilled. I know I have stated in the past that I would take a functional but limited performance over a massively technical but wanking and fucking useless one, but on this album the songs have nothing going for them, so any sparks of creativity would have been appreciated.

This therefore is clearly not an album of amazing riffs and instrumentals, epic atmospheres, unabashedly progressive songs or aggression, but of catchy choruses and keyboard melodies. And even then it fails, because it attempts to be catchy not through well crafted vocal lines, easy-to-stomach melodies or overall memorable songwriting, but just through stale, mindless, unimaginative repetition. It certainly doesn't help that bishop bloke's voice is just generally unremarkable. It carries no atmospheric weight or that much personality to it. He overall generally lacks personality, sounding like every retro-styled vocalist ever. And that brings me back to my main point: this shit is bland as FUCK! This is merely boring rock with a paint job.

The production is squeaky clean and loud, as anyone would expect of poppy music like this. Who cares though, really? Why care about this music at all? The band clearly didn't. There is nothing wrong with marketable, chorus driven music, but for fuck's sake, some sort of good or even remarkable qualities outside or shallow aesthetics and catchiness of the most mind-numbing variety would be appreciated. This isn't offensive, just really fucking bland, hollow and dull. Completely sanded down, satanic pop rock that fails to do anything well.