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Secular Haze Single - 67%

enshrinedtemple, July 7th, 2013

Secular Haze is the first single off of Ghost’s Infestissumam. This song is vastly different from anything on Opus Eponymous and we see a progressive and new side of Ghost as they cast aside their doom rock mold. This song is not guitar and bass-oriented, but rather organ-oriented. We are treated to a freak show, carnival-like organ that dominates the entire song. It unfortunately sticks out like a sore thumb and really drags the track down into mediocrity.

While the organ will really make you want to pull your hair out, there are still a few good aspects to Secular Haze. Papa Emeritus is still a great singer no matter what the other instruments are doing. He conveys a very dark message in the lyrical content that deals with getting swallowed up in a never ending fog. The rest of the instruments sound decent if you can ignore the carnival blasts. The bass line is especially catchy if you are able to focus on that instead of the organ.

Secular Haze is not a total lost cause, but it is the worst song on what would become Infestissumam. This song also features a bland music video where the band is playing on a retro-looking stage. It is incredibly simple and adds nothing to the overall feeling of Secular Haze (Year Zero’s video was much more appealing, risky, and non-clique).

If you own the single version of Secular Haze, you also get a bonus track called I’m A Marionette. This song is much more of a straightforward rocker. It has some commercial appeal because Dave Grohl plays drums on the track. I’m A Marionette is an interesting choice for a cover song, much like Here Comes The Sun, and Ghost really pulls this one off nicely. There is no overtly cheesy carnival organ like on Secular Haze, which instantly heightens my enjoyment of the single.

Infestissumam is a truly great album, but is really hindered by one Secular stinker. I am in shock that they chose this song as the lead single and not Year Zero. Secular Haze is nothing but a b-side at best and could have been left off the album entirely. Still, there are a few redeeming qualities despite the negativity, but the main highlight is I’m A Marionette by a long shot.

A Sign Of The Mediocrity To Come - 58%

dystopia4, June 14th, 2013

Ghost's Secular Haze single marks the beginning of the descent into mediocracy that was fully realized on the band's sophomore. This features a new single meant as a teaser for the album and an ABBA cover of all things, both which are lacklustre, to say the least. Despite all the gimmicks and hype, the debut was a rather enjoyable throwback, with a high influence from Merciful Fate and classic rock. These two songs water down an already not that heavy formula, as well as cutting out any memorable riffwork.

"Secular Haze" makes it obvious that Ghost were going to take a lighter direction for their second album. Featuring an equally lame music video, this just comes off as harmless more than anything. It isn't actively atrocious, it's just benign and forgettable. It is largely driven by a carnivalesque organ line. Although it is adding a new sound to Ghost's repertoire, ultimately it becomes rather annoying. The songwriting is passable enough, but a huge step down from the band's previous material. It would be hard to call this metal anymore, occult rock is more the vibe they achieve. This song does feature the only memorable guitar line to be heard on this release - the slightly twisted riff that can be heard just before Papa Emeritus II whispers the song title.

For the single's b-side, Ghost recruits former Nirvana skinsman Dave Grohl for drums and production. Although his drumming on Nirvana is where he gets most acclaim, it is Queens Of The Stone Age's Songs For The Deaf were his talent behind the kit is most apparent. Here it is good, it takes on more of a supporting role than past efforts, but it does what it does well enough. The production is feather light, and the actual ABBA original of "Im A Marionette" might be more hard hitting which says a hell of a lot. While the chorus is vaguely catchy, this really is just unforgettable fluff. The chorus on this is really annoying, which is especially bad since it was the best part of the original (which I didn't really like anyway). Ultimately, this comes off as little more than a cheap novelty they thought would be fine for tacking on as a b-side.

Ghost's viability as a worthwhile band is over almost as quick as it began. This really shouldn't come as a surprise, as their first album was basically glorified worship music done really well. It's not like they ever had an original sound. A somewhat silly schtick can't carry them forever - they need quality music to back it up. A gimmick or weird schtick isn't always necessarily a bad thing in itself, but it certainly is when a band doesn't have the music to back it up, as it comes off as little more than a crutch. This is ultimately boring watered down occult tinged rock. There really isn't much in the way of memorable riffing and the songwriting has taken a turn for the worse.

Godly Clearness: Full of Disappointment - 64%

TheZombieXecutioner, February 14th, 2013

Being a big fan of Ghost's previous release, Opus Eponymous, I jumped on the chance to hear a new track from the band. Sadly, I left feeling disappointed and underwhelmed. Full of circus organ, heavy guitars and a thinner vocal approach than the previous album, Ghost is able to write some of their worst songs yet.

The main track "Specular Haze" is a rather disappointing display of talent from band. Mostly ruined by an annoying circus organ constantly doing a BOOM BAH BAH!!! BOOM BAH BAH!!! rhythm throughout the whole song. This gets old really fast and by the mid point you just hope that maybe the organ player would choke and let the other members play. On the (somewhat) brighter side, the guitar playing is pretty okay. Showing a nice riff after the intro that is sadly not seen again. For the rest of the track the guitar mostly just strums some chords here and there. This is very disappointing because I know damn well the band is able to do better guitar work than this. The drumming is okay as well. The playing is good but the production and drum tone is horrid. Clouding up the track along with the annoying ass organ, the constant cymbal crashing behind the organ take up nearly the whole verse and bridge section. Hopefully the drum tone is fixed in the final mixing of the album. The bass is pretty overshadowed by the constant organ thumping and the cymbals crashing but pops out a new times in the intro and verse section. The tone is nice and much similar to the first album, minus being audible. Only being audible for a few moments the bass is okay at best and does nothing great. Papa Emeritus I is back now under Papa Emeritus II, for whatever reason, and his voice is thinner than ever. The first album's vocals were thin but were made great with catchy choruses, double tracking, and humorous lyrics; which this track does not have. Emeritus' voice has no real shinning moments and is very flat and boring. The emotion in his voice is also absent and he seems to be as bored as I was during this song. Lyrically, this song is about a misty haze coming along which is an okay idea but written very poorly (In typical Ghost fashion). Overall this song is okay at best. Following a generic song structure as well as a weak vocal and guitar performance , this song is very disappointing and makes the future album seem bleak and uninteresting.

Along with the snore fest, "Specular Haze", another weak offering is presented on this album; a cover of ABBA's best song "I'm A Marionette". This track sounds nothing like the original, which apparently was the point, and is rather boring as well. This track actually stands stronger than the original track, which isn't saying much. Emeritus' voice sounds completely uninspired and uninterested as if he was talked into covering this song by the record label. Containing no vocals high points, the guitars actually prove better. Showcasing some nice doomy riffing along with a nice lead in the middle. The tone is nice and heavy and melodic when it needs to which work well in the melodies. The guitar work on this track is much better compared to "Secular Haze" but still falls flat. The drumming is okay on this track and does the typical drummer standards by doing nothing interesting or special. The bass is very quite and does the typical 'follow the guitarist' approach which proves boring and disappointment. In the end, this track is much better than the original piece on this single, but is still not that great of a song. Taking a classic ABBA tune and reworking it into a boring piece of shit of their own.

In conclusion, this single should be checked out by any Ghost fan, but will most likely fall flat to expectations. This single is full of disappointment and uninspired playing shown in the vocals and guitar work. Try this song out, and hopefully --hopefully the upcoming full length will be better.