I have to confess that before the new album from Ghost fell onto my desk, I didn’t know to much about them. Some characters called Nameless Ghouls fronted by a ‘different singer’ on each album, with face paint and some non-too-subtle religious iconography. I also knew that most metal musicians (Metallica we’re looking at you) love them; as do more and more fans across the globe.
So, what am I expecting from the fourth album from the Swedish project as frontman Tobias Forge aka ‘new’ frontman Cardinal Copia informs us? Swedish death metal? To be frank, I’m not sure.
Opening the album is intro piece and suitably eerie Ashes, a tale of the Black Plague, that’s part horror movie, part musical, part descent into Hell. Which leads into lead single Rats with its 80’s style riffs and vocals reminiscent of Turbo era Rob Halford. I wasn’t expecting something quite this dramatic and catchy to be honest.
Next track Faith is quite frankly, amazing. Those massive sounding drums, combined with dual melodic solos, at the beginning drives straight into a riff that Satan himself would be jealous of. The cherry on top of the cake is the wickedly delicious solo.
It’s fair to say at this point, I’m pleasantly intrigued as the 80’s sounding pop rock song See The Light, complete with piano intro, with its blast of guitars kicks in. The atmospherics of the song, combined with lyrics of ‘none of the demons I’ve known compare to you’, sprinkled with imagery gets the imagination running.
It’s fair to say, I did not expect this band to be simultaneously heavy, yet melodic and catchy at the same time. The surprises keep coming when a saxophone solo, yes a saxophone, appears in Miasma and yet it sounds completely in sync with everything beforehand. This is the 80’s isn’t it?
Pro Memoria is epic, the orchestra sounds sweep across the room, the piano, the church organ and choir are beautifully arranged while contradicting the mood with the lyrics about Lucifer. Dying never sounded so good.
As we reach into the final song, Life Eternal the church bells toll. A ballad that could have been on Barry Manilow record, it is a perfect representation of the dynamics in the music, the atmosphere of greatness that the band is creating. A real crowd with lighters in the air song, as the music explodes with the glorious backing vocals from the choir once more.
I expected Swedish satanic music, I got a enchantingly beautifully crafted piece of art. Music with a sprinkle of classic 70’s metal, a touch of pop music from another time and a big dollop of 80’s sounding production. Throw in the horror movie influences, the odes to the Dark Lord himself and the bands image and you’ve got yourself a top quality, enduring metal classic on your hands.
Album Review By Iain McCallum