Ghost - Meliora - (6/10)
Published on August 22, 2015
Genre:Heavy Metal / Melodic Rock / Rock
Label:Loma Vista Recordings
Papa and his Ghouls return for more Satanic worship.
Since their 2010 debut, Opus Eponymous, Swedish retro rock band Ghost have been growing and growing in popularity and recognition. Vocalist(s) Papa Emeritus and his horde of Nameless Ghouls have been providing the masses with a very 1970 era inspired occult rock, similar to the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, while also taking influence from acts such as Mercyful Fate and the like. At this point, most people know who Ghost are, and the release of their third full-length, Meliora has been a highly anticipated release for fans of the group. Five years after making heads turn, it seems as if the Ghost sound has begun to run its course, despite having some decent moments.
From the opening moments, this record still sounds like Ghost, which is to say the throwback sound is still alive and well within the band. The guitar tones feel a little darker than the last release, Infestissumam, and the keyboards are still adding plenty of melodic flourishes, but something feels missing. One thing that made Opus a great record was the memorability and catchy choruses. Throughout Meliora, there are plenty of melodic sing-along sections, but they don’t come off as something that will really stay with you. Fans can easily recall the lines from “Ritual” or “Year Zero” on prior albums, but the lyrics on the new album feel very lackluster. Nothing screams out as anthemic as the band had been able to do before, despite having some stronger songwriting in general compared to what they have done in the past. Further, where as a track like “Stand By Him” or “Body and Blood” felt a little more natural, there is a sense of heavy-handedness with a few of the tracks here and there. The perfect example would actually be the first single off the record, “Cirice”, which seems to have been written in the Foo Fighters school of “Let’s make the chorus the entire song”. It comes off as running thin on ideas at this stage in their career.
Now, not everything is as bad or lackluster though. Again, the songwriting is, for the most part, stronger than Infestissumam. Where that album had some very skippable material, the only track on Meliora that seems like an afterthought would be “Mummy Dust”. The other tracks are certainly serviceable, regardless of any issues with the hooks. Musically, the album is strong as well, and really does help this become more an overall more enjoyable experience. The little keyboard flourishes and fills do add some really nice melody and at times interesting layers to the sound. The drums hit pretty well and the darker tone on the guitars add a little more devilishness to the songs. Production wise, Meliora is quite good as well. Each instrument or vocal nuance gets picked up and there aren’t any sloppy or muddy moments. The short run-time works well too, and the album is quite an easy listen. It’s not hard to listen multiple times and not feel like it takes a lot of effort. Also, the band flirts a little with a bit more proggy (for them) sound on “He Is” in what seems to make this piece the standout and highlight.
On their third release, Ghost have shown that they are sticking to their tried and true formula. There is not too much her that strays from their prior albums, or even feels out of place from the 70s. However, the occult rock and retro thing has become more and more commonplace and Ghost are not doing anything to stand above many other similar artists. Despite some decent musicianship, the band seems to have lost what so many people enjoyed about them: the memorability. Strong music and songwriting can only go so far if the listener forgets it all as soon as its over. Fans of the band will most certainly enjoy Meliora, but for the others, this is worth a listen or two, but not much beyond that.
Live photos by Eivind Nakken