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Floating through psychedelic spaces & occult times - 87%

kluseba, August 22nd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Loma Vista Recordings

The controversial Swedish occult rock sextet Ghost is back with its third full length record in only five years and continues its mixture of psychedelic rock music in the key of Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly and sinister artworks, lyrics and press photos somewhere between Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson and Merciful Fate. While the previous two records had more obvious hits than this release, this album is overall the band's most consistent effort and doesn't include any filler material. Despite a clear guiding line, this album includes enough little experiments to sound diversified, intriguing and relevant after a huge initial hype around the group.

Sweden's occult clergy opens with the airy, floating and mysterious "Spirit" which almost reminds me of progressive rock project Ayreon because of its space rock influenced keyboard and organ sounds. The vintage rock track is crowned by an addicting chorus led by charming melodic lead vocals and epic yet unpretentious choirs. The opener represents everything Ghost stands for and still manages to add a fascinating new space rock note to its musical vintage brew. An opening song is always essential for the rest of a record and this one is an instant classic in my opinion.

The band also includes a few more sinister sounds even though this album strays even further away from heavy riffs, vivid rhythms and extensive heavy metal guitar solos. "Mummy Dust" is one of the few songs that starts with a gripping riff and a pumping rhythm section that meets more progressive keyboard sounds. The low and menacing chorus with its creepy piano sounds is though not a far call from the German gothic metal band The Vision Bleak.

This kind of tune remains exceptional and it speaks volumes for the band's open-minded sense for artistic extremes that this track that would fit on any horror movie soundtrack is preceded by the band's softest song ever which is the enlightening "He Is" that could also come from a hippie band like The Mamas & the Papas.

No matter whether the band heads for lighter or darker sounds, Ghost has the unique capacity to write catchy tunes that some critics compare to vapid pop bands but which are in fact a trademark for clever high quality song writing. This is what makes the band stand out among numerous vintage rock bands along with their highly recommendable colleagues from Ancient VVisdom. One of the most addicting songs in the band's short yet intensive history is the epic album closer "Deus in Absentia" which is crowned by an unforgettable epic chorus of sheer beauty that closes a record that starts extremely well on a truly strong note.

In the end, it's tough to say which of the band's three outputs is the best but this one is definitely a good starting point for anyone who hasn't tried this sextet out yet. For fans of occult and space rock of the late sixties and early to mid-seventies, there is no way for you to get around this band and you might as well purchase all three of their albums. Metal elitists might claim that this band gets too much attention, is commercially flavoured and nothing but watered down retro rock but anybody with an open mind for magic rock music should simply ignore the haters and praise this band.