Ghost are a brilliant contradiction. They look terrifying but create beautiful songs, they sound unique yet completely retro at the same time, they remain anonymous and mysterious yet have been linked to, and produced by, Dave Grohl, and, even though they are labelled as Heavy Metal, they have covered the likes of Abba, Army of Lovers and Depeche Mode.
Formed in 2006 in Sweden, Ghost consist of six members; vocalist Papa Emeritus (now onto his third incarnation) and five musicians who call themselves A Group Of Nameless Ghouls. Papa Emeritus looks like a cross between The Exorcist (1973) demon and the Pope whilst the Nameless Ghouls wear stark black uniforms and horned emotionless masks…in short, pretty terrifying. Their debut album Opus Eponymous is a perfect half hour of Doom Metal whilst the second album Infestissuman was more experimental. An EP of covers followed in If You Have Ghost and was a celebration of songs slightly left field (as described above) yet completely fitting. Meliora, their third album is a combination of everything they have created so far and then some, in fact, it is one of the best examples of music full of craftsmanship and love that I have ever heard.
Opening track Spirit drops us straight into a haunted house, all spooky and creepy before chugging guitar riffs and deep drumming gives way to church organs and harmonic vocals. Throughout we hear our first hints of the 70’s Prog rock bleeding through giving the song a tangible thickness. From The Pinnacle To The Pit grooves away on its bass line with an overlay of grunge like guitars and sneer vocals when a sudden uplifting middle explosion enlightens us. Cirice embodies Ghost’s peers through Black Sabbath and Metallica; both respectful and classic it instantly has your head banging and feet stomping. An instrumental interlude, Spoksonat, brings things down a notch; welcome and slightly strange.
Then comes track five, He Is. Sweeping strings, clean guitars, rolling piano, heavenly vocals and an insanely catchy chorus give this song a power and beauty rarely heard. It truly is an amazing piece of music and an absolute highlight of the entire album. Mummy Dust is Ghost at their most anthemic. Blasts of keyboard glory, whisper like vocals and Joe Satriani inspired guitar work all topped with some Bach like organs surely must give it “single release” status in the future. Majesty and Absolution (with second instrumental Devil Church crammed in-between) are brimming with classic Rock and Prog inspiration in both feel and sound. You can hear the likes of Yes, ELP, Queen and King Crimson all thrown into the mix giving the album an almost timeless quality. Final track Deus In Absentia is quite simply…epic!! Stop start music and vocals channel the spirit of early Queen whilst a glorious chorus proves yet again how harmonic and perfectly pitched the singing really is with it ending appropriately with dark and foreboding, collective voices.
Yes, you will find Ghost in the Heavy Metal section of any music store and their roots are here and in Doom Metal…but they are so much more. The precision of the instruments complimented by the soaring vocal work added to the visual aspect of their look, and the artwork used on their albums give them a haunting uniqueness both on record and in concert; something I can attest to as seeing them live was an unreal yet brilliant experience. Outstanding music!