Meliora review by Ghost

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  • Released: Aug 21, 2015
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (118 votes)
Ghost: Meliora
7

Sound — 9
"Meliora" is the third album by Swedish occult rockers Ghost, a band on many a persons lips these days as their almost meteoric rise in the metal world continues to flourish. The identity of the band, which is to say, ironically giving most of the band no identity at all, builds up on the mysteriousness of Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls, almost turning Ghost into an institution rather than just "a band." Often derided by non-fans or critics as mere "dad rock," their music is complexly sourced enough to the point where one could consider them an almost re-inventive group, in the sense that their fusion of '60s beats, '70s prog rock and various aspects of metal is quite a unique sound and somewhat anomalous for such a popular act.

Leading off from "Infestissumam," "Meliora" feels quite different from the roiling and darker feel of that album. Whereas "Infestissumam" had more of a stripped down metal side to it, "Meliora" moves in the progressive side of things more than ever. Immediately from track one, the organ fueled intro-to-double-kick-drum swing draws us into a growing search for the "Spirit" (ahah), one which leads us from euphoric chorus through to a beautifully crafted guitar harmony, ending on a choral high note. And then it turns it around and starts getting down and dirty with "From the Pinnacle to the Pit," a song that has one of the strongest set of riffs you'll likely hear this year. Sweet Salty Jeebus, is it a good riff. But that's not to say the song is all meat and spuds, the chorus follows the same style as the earlier "Spirit": one grand, cathartic movement that is immediately derailed by the next track. There's a lot of individual identity to these tracks, which helps add to the feeling that Ghost are certainly apart from their peers. For instance, "Cirice" opens with this kind of Opeth/Candlemass hybrid riff that still manages to make the floating vocal lines fit surprisingly well. The song also dabbles a lot in dynamic impact, making its chorus ideas one of the best on the album. "Mummy Dust" is a very ridiculous but charming mishmash of Judas Priest, a sprinkling of dissonant spookiness and Bowie camp. And "Absolution" really adds to the prog side of things, with its modern riff funneled through an old-school, er, funnel. It's oddly catchy and brief chorus feels slightly at odds with the main verses but it builds up very nicely to a fantastical bridge that combines all the best parts of this album: the guitar leads, the fantastical piano and invigorating chorus.

In a way, this feels like an example of the outsider iconoclast given musical expression in it's most unintentional form. That is to say, many aspects of Ghost's sound have their polar opposites in other concepts, one that's particularly appropriate would be the genre of Christian rock. Consider this: Both praise opposite ends of the same spectrum (God/Devil dichotomy), Christian rocks' lyrical ideas are often sincere beliefs while Ghost's are not at all shared by the band in actuality. Where (most) Christian rock is often not that inventive and relatively simple, Ghost delves into a lot of musical ideas, combining them to make a full, narrative experience from end to end. This is merely an observation, however, but its fascinating to think about. Fun fact: The opening 3 chords to "Deus in Abesntia" are almost the same to the chorus of "House of Fun" by Madness, and now that association shall be in your head forever.

Lyrics — 8
Given how Ghost have a certain consistency in firing and then hiring a vocalist after an album is done, the expectation is always on how the new Papa Emeritus is going to sound. In this case, quite a lot like his predecessor, Papa Emeritus II. That being said, the writing allows for much more of the vocals to shine, especially in the layered arrangements in songs like "Spirit" and "Deus in Absentia." While it's not the most powerful voice, Papa Emeritus III has a certain charisma and clarity that feels just right. Lyrically, it's been no hidden fact that Ghost's themes are universally Satanic or related in some way. That doesn't mean that the band is a bunch of Satanists, more that these themes are used for the theatric effect, and it works. Mostly, for the overall sound. While the groovy, grimy, dirty metal riffs work, there's a disconnect where the massively bombastic and melodic sound of the likes of "He Is" and "Majesty" feel slightly at odds with the implied darkness inherent to the concept of Satan. Then again, it has worked for bands like Hell, whose album "Human Remains" attempts something similar with interesting results. Again, the parallel between Christian rock is present here, as the same sort of verbal conviction is present but in a much more sophisticated, perversely human way, whereas most other methods of making things memorable rely on simplicity and repetition.

Overall Impression — 9
Another strong release from Ghost, a step up from "Infestissumam" in terms of song-writing, exploratory ideas and production values. Hopefully, depending on your outlook on things, Papa Emeritus III and co. will achieve their goals of subtle and loud, refined and grimy world domination. Or something along those lines, there was an awful lot to read in the manifesto. Anyway, hopefully this turns out to be one of the more popular releases of 2015, as it's a strangely refreshing sounding album amid contemporary rock and metal. Songs to look out for: "Spirit," "From the Pinnacle to the Pit," "He Is," "Mummy Dust," "Deus in Absentia."

62 comments sorted by best / new / date

    JuggaloCloud9
    My favorite album this year
    niv0070
    Oh really? shut up.
    niv0070
    Ha, it's funny cause that comment was posted to another comment that was spam..29 downvotes though.. pretty impressed. I love Ghost and I agree with JuggaloCloud.
    franciscanv
    A criminally underrated band
    Marcus 90
    More like Overrated
    AsOneIStand
    By whom?
    Marcus 90
    Alot of metalheads seem to like them for some reason. I'm from Sweden and i honestly don't see what the hype is about. I find their music boring to be honest. Don't misunderstand me, they are doing what they love and they deserve praise for that. Their music just does nothing for me, I don't hate them, just not my taste.
    AsOneIStand
    I see an equal amount of dislike for them that easily rivals the love they get, so I wouldn't say they are overrated at all.
    Velcro Man
    The people that dislike them 90% of the time are these trve kvlt metalheads convinced that it's not "brutal" or "heavy" enough because some dude with a V-neck isn't crab walking around while screaming about how his daddy didn't love him.
    Marcus 90
    i think you are confusing Screamo/Emo with Heavy metal there pal. i don't consider myself a trve kvlt metalhead as you so elegantly put it, just a lover of metal music. For the record most people dislike them because they have a poppy sound, yes they do have alot of heavy riffs, but then again so does alot of way more talented bands around, most people who dislike them are also tired about all the coverage they get, when there are more talented bands around. if you like them more power to you. i can atleast appreciate that they are bringing back old 60's style rock back to the masses.
    Ondskapet
    >poppy sound Lost me there, champ. I'm also from sweden (Must be relevant for the discussion, considering that you also posted it) and I really like them, they're not my favourite band, but I really like their music. But I appreciate good song writing and don't see the world in what's pop and not pop. There's also more to "talent" than just playing fast and technically, Ghost is definitely a talented band in their vision, execution and songwriting.
    jeremy.guyton
    I think that's a fair assessment of most music. You sound like a reasonable fellow. I personally love the new album, but at the same time, I can totally understand how it would put some people off - either by content or style.
    MrFixIt
    Great album! I can't wait to see them live
    MrFixIt
    Btw; "Given how Ghost have a certain consistency in firing and then hiring a vocalist after an album is done, the expectation is always on how the new Papa Emeritus is going to sound" ha...ha...hahahahahahaha
    bradd101
    "Hopefully, depending on your outlook on things, Papa Emeritus III and co. will achieve their goals of subtle and loud, refined and grimy world domination." Dunno man, I have a bad feeling that Papa Emeritus III may not be around for the ride
    Mainer
    These guys have gotten better with each release! Opus Eponymous, I didn't like. Infestissumam was alright. I haven't heard all of Meliora, but it's definitely their best so far. I've gone back and listened to Infestissumam and it's grown on me! Go for Ghost!
    derpdragon
    Amazing album and amazing band. The best thing about Ghost is how much they attribute to music, especially metal. They do what no one has done in years, cause controversy without actually doing anything or saying anything to attack anyone. It seems like now, the only way for a band to get attention is to either piss off a lot of people, sell out to a record label and gather teeny bopper fans, ride the coat tales of fame of another to the top, or simply get lucky. Ghost have managed to start their rise based sheerly off the curious nature of their band. Its odd and different, while being the same as many things. Its genuine music, genuine entertainment, and they seek nothing but the enjoyment of their craft.
    kmath2220
    Am I the only one that just doesn't really get this band? Never really clicked with me :/
    LoseTheGenre
    I read something saying Dave Grohl might be their drummer...
    ScottStewart1
    He did the drums for the cover EP and produced. Rumor is he was also behind the kit for a leg of that tour. I'm pretty sure all the guys in the band are Swedish.
    Jamie_W
    Their image and their music do not match. The vocals especially do not work for me, very generic sounding rock band.
    dorpzot
    One of my favorite releases this year! also nice to see Hell mentioned..everyone who likes the theatrical aspect of Ghost should definitly check out Hell!
    raccooninajar
    The artwork inside the album is also fantastic. it's got this whole retrofuturistic art deco thing going on, which looks totally sick. To me, while it may not be the heaviest or fastest or most $@#$ing brutal album I've ever heard, I feel like Ghost "gets" heavy metal. they've tapped into the vein, and while it's not perfect, it's astoundingly good nonetheless.
    irs8686
    I've posted some hate about Ghost before. Didn't like their previous work. However, I gave this album a listen due to all the hype and I have to say I liked it more than their previous album. Can't say I'm a huge fan yet. I'll listen again. This definitely seems more guitar driven.
    symmetryerased
    So many great albums this year. btw, Kudos to those who did the artworks. I may not be a fan but I adore this album.
    fajaquackquack
    Alright so this is my first ghost experience. I Love the guitar work, and the production is awesome, but I really was kinda disappointed on how major every vocal melody was. I kinda expected Ghost to be super dark, but the the vocal melodies made the choruses just too happy? I know this is gonna get downvoted, but did anyone else feel the same way? If it makes people feel better I actually went to like three best buys to find the damn thing and I did listen to all of it.
    jsk020
    Not often every song of an album is really good. So far this album along with the Sword and Kadavar are all the best albums I've heard this year. Great year for music!
    Anjohl
    Horrible, untalented band, with just a dreadful vocalist. Like Lady Gaga, if noone ever saw these guys, they wouldn't have a fan base. Utterly and totally generic.
    4leafclover
    I actually don't like the whole mask thing, it puts me off going to see them live. I'd rather see the guy actually sing.
    paige1eao
    then the bands name would just be "Jeans and a T-Shirt" the masks is part of the theatrics... ya know Theater.... Phantom of the Opera wouldn't be the same if the guy didn't wear his mask.
    4leafclover
    For me, the album is average apart from one very good (Pinnacle) and one brilliant (He Is) song. I've listened to the whole thing a few times and I don't see myself going back to any of the other songs again. Better than their last but nowhere near their first. He Is solo just sounds like it was lifted directly from My Friend of Misery... Sounds amazing though, favourite moment of the album.
    Rotenn
    So generic (or too obvious) that cirice cover, its the silence of the lamb poster
    R4ph43lZer0
    Almost all posters(also album covers) of them are based on horror/classic movies.
    NW151987
    I dont think they hire and fire a different singer. Its the same guy as a different persona i.e Papa I Papa II and Papa III. You can tell because sometimes (and who can blame him) he slips up saying "i remember this" and then going "wait no i dont, **** that" (refer to one of their acoustic shows as of recent. On topic of the album I love it; a solid 9 for me. It just misses a 10/10 because they pre-released 3-4 songs and by the time the album came out we only really had 4 new songs because there were 2 short interludes which just left me a little underwhelmed. despite this the music its self is fantastic and was really well written.
    Galvatron
    My first Ghost album. I dont love the chorus to Absolution and thats pretty much the only thing I have bad to say about it. I think its a great piece of music.
    martha616
    I think it sounds pretty soft compared to their look. Don't like the vocals, not trolling. I just like more "punch" and/or screaming. Phil Anselmo is my favourite. This is swedish pop-"metal"-easy-listenin'. Maybe all the hype made me just pull my shoulders. Talented bunch, but IMO boring as hell
    RockPaperSZ
    How is this goth metal?! Amazing work tho!
    milesak
    The term "goth metal" is really more about aesthetics than actual specific sound. Evanescence, Cradle Of Filth and HIM, while totally different are all considered goth or gothic metal. Frankly, it's just a label to distinguish bands with a darker style. Ghost are definitely dark.