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Ghost - Meliora - 85%

Silicon Messiah, September 11th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Seven Four Entertainment

I've tried many times. Given it several tries. Ghost's music. It's said that you either love it or hate it, but that simply isn't true. I've never been negative about Ghost, but nor have I been overly positive. Debut album Opus Eponymous was straight through okay and sophomore effort Infestissumam really felt like a swing and miss, containing two great tracks, one okay and the rest just being boring and bland. So I haven't yet become a complete follower of the clergy led by Papa Emeritus - Hallowed be His Name.

Of the ten songs on third effort, Meliora, two are minute long interludes; 'Spöksonat' (Swedish for Ghost Sonata) and 'Devil Church'. And of the remaining eight, half had been released on YouTube and Spotify well before the release of the album. I first heard the album on a drive with a, unrelated to the band itself and for the purpose of anonymity, nameless ghoul. Not playing by all the rules, so to speak. But what I was first struck by was how much better Ghost suddenly were, in comparison to my previous experiences.

The cozy, melodic sound heard on parts of 2013 EP, If You Have Ghost, have in part carried into Meliora. This is complemented by well written and clear choruses, which in a way I've missed on their previous full length releases. The Nameless Ghouls have also 'leveled up', it seems. The guitars on Meliora are clearer, crisper and heavier than before. They are better defined and more focused. Voodoo groove rhythmic 'Mummy Dust' just hits straight in the face, with a feel reminiscent of groove metallers Down. It's also one of the best tracks on the album. Papa Emeritus III - His Kingdom come - somehow reminds me of Mike Patton of Faith No More, in an eerie half whisper, half chant, and the mystery that Ghost have missed on previous albums seems to have been found. Psychedelic parts that can be found in 'Majesty' and 'From The Pinnacle To The Pit' add an extra dimension, interweaving guitars and keyboard licks that run through them.

'Absolution', reminiscent of Uriah Heep, doesn't quite latch on, in spite of some nice guitar work. At the first few listens, ballad 'He Is' seems to suffer from the same syndrome, but when I finally see the light without which I cannot see, the track suddenly becomes an awesome mix of Satanic worship, movie score and cozy guitar balladry. Closer 'Deus In Absentia' seems to take a step back to the feels of Infestissumam however, making a track I can't quite feel. At times I want to hear more passion in the Papa - His will be done, on Earth as it is in Hell. He sounds a lot like his predecessors, even though the production makes his voice clear and strong, and in that, there is no fault. His greatest moment on Meliora is the aforementioned 'Mummy Dust', though he also puts a silver lining on many of the melodic choruses heard on the album, like Sabbath inspired single Cirice - another of the greater tracks on Meliora - and opening Spirit.

Now, one might have thought I'd have changed my mind about Ghost after finding Meliora to my satisfaction, but no. After listening to Meliora, I tried their first albums one more time, finding only that only the tracks I had already chosen as favorites from them remain as such. They simply aren't as effective as Meliora. But Ghost surely have evolved. They've gone from a band I wouldn't complain about having as road trip music to putting out an album I will definitely return to. They've delivered, in force, especially in the guitar parts.

It seems like Ghost have given their latest effort the weight it deserves. Still, some will claim Ghost have lost what made them unique. That they are nearing the mainstream. That it is their image that creates all the hype. But in fact, it may finally be the music making the hype. Meliora is their Number Of The Beast; if Ghost is remembered for anything, it'll be Meliora.

Standout tracks: Cirice, Mummy Dust, He Is

Originally written for 'getmetal.com'