Review: Ghost’s Meliora

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The divisive Swedish masters of occult rock return with their third album. Virgo triumphat reditum Papa Emeritus!

Full disclosure: I’m a huge Ghost fan. I loved Opus Eponymous and had difficulty not listening to it for weeks. I loved Infestissumam and had trouble falling asleep several nights in a row because the choruses were so damn catchy. Whatever Ghost is selling, I’m buying (except this). But let’s be honest: given Ghost’s wide-reaching popularity, this album has already been covered, or soon will be, by just about every hard rock and metal news outlet out there, using all your favorite adjectives & descriptors like “grimy,” “triumphant,” “vintage-flavored,” “soaring,” “crunchy,” “gothic-tinged,” “return-to-form,” etc., ad nauseum.

Some will champion Ghost’s bold new approach. Some will rue the lack of involvement from Dave Grohl, Jesus of Music. Others will take a vast look at the state of heavy music today and type up lengthy diatribes on what a band like Ghost does or doesn’t mean for music as a whole, and how they may or may not be a milestone/warning sign on the imminent ascent/descent of artistic merit for popular music in the decades to come.

Fuck all that. I’m taking a different approach with the new Meliora (Latin for “better”) and giving you my own unique perspective on how each track in this album sounds upon first listen.

ghost_band_1

Spirit – The intro to this song makes me want to rummage through my giant box of Halloween stuff and try on masks from my childhood. Sounds like 1980s-era Ozzy Osbourne and several vintage keyboard enthusiasts wrote an homage to old Hammer horror films.

From the Pinnacle to the Pit – The filthy bass tone feels like being slapped in the face with a fat, oily sausage. In a good way. A lost Mercyful Fate song minus the ridiculous cartoon falsetto vocals, and written specifically to get people at concert halls swaying and singing along.

Cirice – Sounds very much like Ghost’s take on the Hellraiser theme as an opening, plus a thumping rhythm section that amps up a slightly morose chorus. Contains a keyboard solo and break straight out of Castlevania. Very interesting choice for a single ahead of the album’s release.

Spöksonat – Holy shit there’s a harp in here! Also I got a whiff of campfire while listening to this instrumental interlude and it kinda makes me want to be an 18th century woodcarving merchant in Austria. Guten morgen, Toilette der Hölle. Möchten Sie mein holz handwerk zu kaufen?

He Is – Ahh yes, let’s slow it down a bit with a ballad for Satan… yep there’s a void reference, too. Ooh man those key changes. This is what Journey would sound like if they were trapped in an underground cathedral for a month and forced to write a worship song.

ghost_band_3

Mummy Dust – Yeah let’s turn that gain back up again for a heavier mid-paced thrasher. This has a perfect old-school headbanging riff with sneering vocals (!) and big, bombastic choir/orchestra stabs that belong in a Dio stage show. Definitely the standout song so far. Makes you want to stand on a castle turret in a lightning storm.

Majesty – “Hey dad check out this song, it’s got that 70s vibe you say all the bands today lack!” Okay it’s not quite that retro, but this is the most classic rock-sounding of the bunch so far, but still has that smooth, mellow Ghost chorus you wont find in other brands… I mean bands. Sounds the most like a track from Infestissumam.

Devil Church – There’s that Castlevania church organ vibe again, mixed with some huge, Broadway-style choirs. Again, in a good way. Sounds like the instrumental ending number of a musical, if the musical were about procreating the Antichrist.

Absolution – Oh yes, back to the heavy. Snaking minor keys and mocking, coaxing vocals that seem tailor-made to get an entire venue singing along in unison. The piano accents in this song fit perfectly. I can see this song as a cheesy mid-80s MTV video played only after 2AM and centered around an enormous overlit stage with a huge grand piano on it.

Deus In Absentia – The sound of a (monstrance) clock returns for the album closer, containing punchy staccato verses and surprisingly upbeat choruses… at least at first, before the darkly burbling synths and gorgeous live choir play us out with a final hymn to an absence of god.

ghost_band_2

In short, if you’re a fan of Ghost, you’ll find a lot to like in Meliora. Not every track is a neckbreaking slammer, nor does it need to be, and that variation is what makes the album a great listen. Thanks to some serious songwriting talent, Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls maintain their unique sound while continuing to branch out and (tastefully) expand their style repertoire in a way that both keeps fans on the hook and attracts newcomers to the cult of the black robes.

Meliora also has the honor of (anti)christening our new rating system.

4-5_of_5

4.5/5 Toilets Ov Hell

Meliora is available today from Loma Vista Recordings. Stream the full album here.

(images via via via)

 

  • The beginning of from the pinnacle to the pit reminds me of that crystal method song that was in the first splinter cell game. Regardless, I’m really digging this album and this was a good review sir.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    I like the new rating system. But no thanks on Ghost.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      They are quite divisive. Quite, I say. There seems to be no middle ground on loving or hating them.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Pretty much. I liked aspects of the first album. But when James Hetfield wore a Ghost shirt, all bets were off.

  • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

    Saw them live once. I really didn’t see what the hype was all about. People go crazy for this band it seems. I’ll stick to Repugnant.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA6rLKknO7U

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Yup.

  • These guys are stercore at the finest!

    GL

    • Oh, I should divulge the “core” origin. (RFI)

      GL

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      These guys aren’t shit. They’re the shit.

      • Dude, classic rock is dead!

        • Mxxk Bxnxntxn™© :]

          NO SHIT!

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          Must not let jimmies get too rustled.

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          If it’s dead explain the bands that continue to sell out arenas that are considered classic rock.

          • PAT BENATAR DOESNT COUNT!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Do Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, Kiss and Def Leppard count? Same goes with ZZ Top.

          • Those are clearly heavy metal bands, son!

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            And haven’t sold out arena’s in quite some time, I reckon, either.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            ZZ Top isn’t heavy metal.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Dads reliving their glory days?

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            It’s not all dads reliving their glory days.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen 7 times. I hate this song though.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            I bet no classic rock band continues to sell out actual arenas. Not active ones that is. I could maybe see LedZep do that but they ain’t going to.

    • Sir Tapir The Based :]

      Didn’t expect to hear this from the mouth of a man that liked In Flames’ latest album.

  • The Battle Born NDN

    Fuck yeah.
    This article>>>>>>>>i

  • Sir Tapir The Based :]

    Grrreat review dude! This little Tapir is really digging this album.

  • ChuggaChuggaDeedleyDoo

    I admittedly like ghost more for their gimmick than their actual music. I feel the same way about Kiss, but at least ghost can actually play their instruments well. I am shallow and superficial like that

  • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
    • CyberneticOrganism

      Brilliant

    • RustyShackleford

      This picture is my goal in life.

    • TENDIES <3

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      That is how you display food at a party, specifically a Halloween party.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        I am 100% doing this in October

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          That’s the only way you should display food at a Halloween party, If you can find a better display tell me. I still won’t believe you though.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            You put the food inside an actual human skull.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            That might work if you have a dish but you can’t just shove food in there willy nilly.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Have you ever tried?

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            No. You’ll need to fit a dish in there for organization of food.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Not with that attitude.

          • CyberneticOrganism
          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Fuck! I still need to try this.

          • Scrimm

            So good.

          • Megan Alexandra

            death row meal

    • Dagon

      I see you got some silverware
      But really are you eating though?

  • RustyShackleford

    Always liked these guys. Gimmick is fun (to me) and I think the songs are fun as well. It seems like they have fun doing it so that’s cool. Yep.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    This album gets an 11/10 in my opinion. This is a classic like Agents Of Fortune, Secret Treaties and The Grand Illusion. This is my AOTY.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I knocked off half a point because I was hoping to hear just a bit more heaviness, as early on they stated they were making a heavier third album, so I assumed it would track a bit closer to Opus Eponymous. Meliora is a solid blend of the first two albums with a little more experimentation thrown in.

      • Dubzlinger, Malandro

        I think metal/rock bands are required by law to say their next album will be heavier.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          You make a good point. But seriously bro, the next release will be more extreme. Just pushing boundaries and shit.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            “We’re actually going softer on our next release.” Can you imagine?

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            God damn, that would be awesome.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            I actually think I might respect a band a bit more, or at least be curious if they said something like, “We aren’t trying to go heavier, just dickin’ around with the formula a bit.”

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            True. But it’s always the same shit.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Ain’t that the truth.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            “I honestly have no idea where I was going with this. I did this all while I was extremely frustrated and overworked, so uh… I hate it actually, and you’ll hate it too.”

          • ^^^ This is exactly how I feel about the music I work on.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            “Playing the guitar right now and writing riffs have become laborious. Fuck it. That’s why there is a kazoo on this soon to be timeless masterpiece.”

          • CyberneticOrganism

            *writes 18 track album about butts*

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            “It shall be the greatest album about butts committed to tape.”

          • I like what Pat O’Brien said prior to the release of one of the newer CC albums, something like “its not gonna surprise anybody.”

          • Pipelord69

            I kind of prefer newer CC to older CC. In fact my favorite album by them is Evisceration Plague

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            I actually heard that from a band this year. Called Kilpi, one of their best albums too.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Well, would you look at that.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Sometimes people should go soft. Didn’t like their heavy album(s) at all.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            So extreme metal just sounds like one big fart.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          “This is the best work we’ve ever done.”

          – Every band ever on their new release

          • Goijira admittedly said their 2008 effort was better than their 2012, shortly after it was released. Maybe they are a slight caveat to your statement?

          • Pipelord69

            I actually liked L’Enfant Sauvage more than I liked The Way of All Flesh. So I’m intrigued by that statement. Regardless, I love both releases and am stoked for a new album!

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            I liked both, but I think Way of All Flesh was easily better.

          • Pipelord69

            L’Enfant was the first Gojira album I listened to, so that’s why I think I enjoy it more. The Axe just blew me away 😮

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            I started with from Mars to Sirius.

          • Where Dragons Dwell FTW. God damn!

          • Dagon

            I started with the first one, discog diving.

            From Mars To Sirius is probably the one I like the most though.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            I like their early stuff a lot too. There’s a fair amount of Morbid Angel worship on Terra Incognita.

          • Dagon

            I can hear that. I remember what I was doing at the time I listened to Terra Incognita for the first time.

          • TheCheezFace

            I enjoyed the hell out of L’enfant, but IMO it didn’t progress in a really meaningful way from its predecessor, like their other albums did.

          • Pipelord69

            I have yet to see them live, but as soon as they come to Northern California. I’m there

          • TheCheezFace

            Nice. They’re coming to Rock in Rio next month, but I won’t be attending.

          • Shrimp in a Pizza Box

            It had some songs I really enjoyed, but some were pretty boring. It’s not BAD, but I wouldn’t listen to it over other Gojira albums.

          • TheCheezFace

            The songs on TWOAF work really well live though.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAZLmfLk3l0

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            Are you sirius?

          • Well, it was them that said it. I am not sure if I could find the interview that easily….

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            This is the best work Ghost has ever done though.

          • JWEG

            It is, at the very least, ‘better’

            Finally my Latin classes have a non-medical use 🙂

          • Dagon

            I’ve heard some US students say that anatomy was harder because of al the latin terms. I’m glad Portuguese words are very similar to their latin counterparts most of the time.

          • Stockhausen

            “We’re back with even more brutal riffs and crushing speed. This is our heaviest material to date.”
            That was were true each time it was said, metal would have reached critical mass in the mid 90s.

        • “The next record is gonna be pretty milquetoast, to be honest. None of us really listen to metal anymore so y’know, it’s all pretty low key. Also, we just recorded parts at home and mailed them to each other. We can’t stand the sight of each other anymore.”

          • -Mastadon

          • CyberneticOrganism

            – Metallica

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            “Instead of making an honest record, we decided to just lie to ourselves and our fans. We need more blow.”

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            You just described most 70’s and 80’s rock bands who still make albums.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Yeah, minus the blow part.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            A lot of them do need blow money though.

          • Stockhausen

            Next Dischordia album is going to be called Milquetoast.

            ov Hell.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Milk & Toast & Death

          • Milk Toast, yum!

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
          • CyberneticOrganism

            I laughed OL

          • Stockhausen

            Is there a preorder package that involves cake? Please let there be a preorder package that involves cake. Cake ‘n Grind.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Nope, just farts. We are just going to sign all of our CD’s and merch with our farts. If you are lucky you may get a dingleberry.

          • Stockhausen

            Maybe combine for a album called Milquefarts? By Discabia?

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            AY!

          • Pagliacci is Kvlt

            I hope it’s a NSBM (natural starches black metal) album. Sorry @joethrashnkill:disqus.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
          • CyberneticOrganism

            Face like a Martian crater

          • Cover Electric Friends pls

        • Pipelord69

          Exception to this law is Trivium

        • Just about every band says this. Intronaut is saying the same thing about their new album, i’m skeptical.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            I actually quite liked Habitual Levitations.

          • Dagon

            But I’m still looking forward to it.

            It won’t be hard to be heavier than Habitual Levitations, but it will be hard to be heavier than their first album.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Prehistoricisms is probably my fave.

          • Dagon

            mine too.

          • Is that their last one? I think I skipped that one for some reason and I generally like all their stuff.

          • Dagon

            Yes, Habitual Levitations was the last one, and it featured a lot of clean vocals. Unsurprisingly, people bitched about it.

          • That doesn’t bother me, I liked how they used it on the previous album.

        • Ted Nü-Djent ™

          If Robb Flynn has taught me anything, this is a correct statement.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        That’s fine. This album ensures that Ghost will forever be considered classic rock.

    • But what happens when Geoff Tater Totts new album drops?

      • DCLXVI

        tater tots/10

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        That will probably get a 1/10.

        • Ted Nü-Djent ™

          Fuckedwithacactus/10

  • Pipelord69

    Huge fan of this album. I’m thinking it’ll be on my year ends list!

  • Guppusmaximus

    It’d probably be one of my favorite albums if they could just find a real singer. Seriously, it’s such a letdown. Ginormous riffs, great phrasing, cohesive melodies and strong musicianship then that weakness comes shoveling through the mix. They always make me want to listen to some King Diamond or Mercyful Fate…

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Disparaging the Papa is a bootable offense.

      • Guppusmaximus

        No… I’m not going to lick your boots 😛

    • Megan Alexandra

      The vocals are never enough to make me dislike the albums (love them all), but I agree with your sentiment, I would LOVE to hear some huge vocals on here rather than layered tracks to beef it up.

      • Guppusmaximus

        Well, to be fair, I’m not certain if they could ever find a vocalist I’d truly love because I’ve been tainted (for years & years) by the glorious chords of one Kim Bendix Petersen. In the face of ridicule I’ve always stayed loyal to that man & his band even when he let Mikkey Dee walk away from his thunderous drum duties. They had such an impact on me when I was 14 that I’ve never fully recovered and any band that releases similarly sounding music will always have an uphill battle with me…Yes, it’s very unfortunate.

        TL;DR version: I’m biased towards King Diamond and there will never be another band that can take his place. I’ve been tainted.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Have only listened this up to From The Pinnacle To The Pit but so far I’ve enjoyed it.

  • JWEG

    Signs Ghost is def speaking my language, as interpreted through the review: Dio, Castlevania, Hammer Horror…

    Seriously, though, imagine, with me, the possibility of a hypothetical Ghost feature length film in Hammer (or AIP) style.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Directed by Panos Cosmatos

  • Gary the Dairy Fairy

    Listened through Meliora twice aleady; such a good album. Meanwhile, Disturbed has just released the worst album of their career. The 16-year old in me is bummed out.

  • Thanks for the positive coverage, robit! “He Is” sounds just like the Christian drivel I was taught to sing in gradeschool, only with a much better message…

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    Better songs, better singer, better production: Papa Emeritus III.

  • 365chaosriddendays

    Is this album full of good songs? Yes it is. Good review.

  • *comments blow up for 75 minutes*
    *comments stop once everyone realizes that haven’t done actual work in 75 minutes*
    *everyone works for 45 minutes*
    *everyone anxiously awaits the next article….*

    GL

    • Sir Tapir The Based :]

      This comment offends me as a person that lives in a different time zone. I have already fi(n)nished my work hours ago!

      • Thatsa good point!

      • Lacertilinger

        Offence is for the weak.
        You’re a strong Tapir, you’re better than this.

        • Sir Tapir The Based :]

          So you’re saying that I’m not allowed to get offended? Gosh, that’s so offensive! I’m gonna go to Tumblr and tell everyone how offended I feel!

          • Lacertilinger

            Weeeeaaaaaaakkkkkkkk

    • JWEG

      I just don’t bother working on Friday.

      As long as I seem busy during the earlier week nobody has ever taken issue.

  • Dagon

    Maybe I’d like musicals if there were more of them about procreating an Antichrist.

  • I haven’t been able to stop listening to this album since it came out. I think it is most definitely a worthy successor to their previous work.

  • Waynecro

    I like Ghost’s shtick, but I’ve never been able to get into the music.

  • Heroic Iron Boogers Of Doom

    Never got the hate about Ghost. They’re not bad, not great. Just pretty forgettable.

  • CT-12

    Gonna pick this up today, stoked! Cool and interesting review C.O.!

  • Óðinn

    Great review, Cybernetic Organism. 4 out of 5 flaming toilet bowls is a fair evaluation of this album. I don’t agree with those who tend to hate Ghost. I enjoy their music.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Amen brah

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Having heard the full stream a couple times now I love this album. The combo of tracks 4 5 and 6 are amazing.