The songs stay with you
Company: Loma Vista
Genre: Progressive, hard rock
Reviewer: T. Ray Verteramo
I have a serious "love/hate" thing with Ghost. I am in love with this damn album and I hate them for it.
What is this circus, formerly known as Ghost B.C.? They're all about the show and never denied it. They do this "ministry" thing and their "message" and their whatever. Their music structure of choice is usually a patchwork quilt of riffs and queer tempo changes, hooks, and chord progressions soldered together. Their singer sounds like a "Michael Stipe-semi-sound-alike" in a hat. Essentially, on the surface, they're pretty much just a joke without a punch-line, a hipster salad, and a novelty.
Except they're not.
All of these tracks, very much like Ghost and Ghost BC of the past five years, have a very loose sense of continuity. There are limited aspects that tie one phrase from the next; you get into one groove, then another will slip the rug out from under it. It is typically very difficult to grasp anything in genuine chaos, because as human beings, we thrive in patterns and rhythm. Repetition triggers our survival mechanism that something is working, whether it be a machine, a schedule, a heartbeat, or a piece of art. So, when we are presented with organized noises that give the impression that they have been cut and pasted, the first instinct is to repel. But, there's something salacious about their presence that triggers an impulse to instruct you otherwise.
With this particular project, "Meliora," it's apparent that they were aiming for a more metropolitan avant garde angle, while driving the guitars a little harder. This would seem very much like trying to pair socks with sandals and make it look good, if anyone else dared. "What the hell is this?" but then you listen…really listen and start to hear the staples that hold the patches together and begin see the whole picture. So, what first strikes you as ridiculous becomes brilliant.
Those who are always screaming, "There's nothing new! There's nothing good anymore!" are usually the ones still keeping the same 10 cd's in the changer from grade school. Well, prog isn't meant to be pretty or easily understood. It's the stuff that makes the new stuff new, propels the medium forward, and provides the sparks for others to ignite from.
Somewhere under the paint and the masks are no clowns, but skilled craftsmen. A layman may not be able to understand the consistency, but they do. They get it and they don't compromise and that's what makes them Metal. Perhaps they really are scary to some, but at the very least, curious. I suspect that's what initially signs their checks…
But, then, you listen to that bass intro to "Pinnacle to the Pit," and it sticks like good pasta in the ribs. Over the deep, watery tones, the lulling alto voice of Papa Emeritus III hypnotically surfs upon the surface before the notes skillfully stumbles upon themselves in the chorus. It's awkward and mesmerizing. Further listening, "Cirice" emotes haunting words like, "I can hear the thunder that's breaking in your heart / I can see through the scars inside you," tap into something divinely human, unnervingly personal, and almost invasive. You find yourself listening to "He Is," without that usual gag reflex from hearing that modern Evangelical pop hymn rock because of its sinister mockery perfection. The power of "Mummy Dust" compels you, in spite of its weirdness. And though they make double-sided claims to where their ideologies lie (or don't), "Majesty" and "Deus in Absentia" are both very convincing.
Gimmick or not, as artists and musicians, they are effective. The songs stay with you. Your ego may hate it, but your id can't get enough.
I want to hate this band so much. I want to chuck the very memory of them into the oubliette of bad gimmicks to be forgotten…as soon as I listen to this damn album one more, twice, twenty more times. Resistance is futile. Then again, who's to say that the resistance isn't part of the fun? After all, couldn't the prick of the needle be just as addictive as the shot? Hate ‘em or love ‘em, "Meliora" gives you wings…those bastards.
An intoxicating cocktail
Company: Loma Vista
Genre: Progressive, hard rock
Reviewer: Greg Watson
With their third album, "Meliora", Ghost continue to prove that when they put a new album out, you'd be a fool not to listen. Translating from Latin, "Meliora" means the pursuit of something better. "Meliora" is a fantastically wondrous album full of all the things we have come to know, expect and love from Ghost. With "new" singer, Papa Emeritus III, the vocals on this album sound like a wonderful amalgam of Papa I & II carrying that smoothness and life that makes it so unique. Tracks like "Spirit", "Cirice" and "He Is" are some of his finest vocal performances on the album that blend that smoothness with a bit of emotion and verve to give you an intoxicating cocktail that sucks you in and holds you spellbound.
Musically, "Meliora" shares some of its sound with the prior albums, featuring a very old school, hard rock feel that is influenced by Blue Oyster Cult, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and a little bit of Kansas. However, there are some new sonic landscapes traversed on this album as well. "Cirice", the album's longest track at 6:03, starts off with this incredibly beautiful acoustic intro that slowly gives way to a doom-drenched riff that is coupled with some very heavy drumming and then drops to a solo piano at the 2:15 mark that is just haunting and incredibly powerful when used with Papa's voice. The thunderous drums and gloomy riff return right after and an almost dark vs. light tete-a-tete begins as the song continues.
Not to be outdone, "He Is" is one of the most diverse and atypical songs that Ghost has done in their career so far. Starting off with an almost Irish folk-sounding guitar intro, the vocals kick in and feel very folksy and comforting. Then the strings come in and Papa's sonorous voice soars over the strings and the light tones of a piano in the background. The folk feel to this song is just infectious and the message of the song is quite easy to pick up. It's an ode to some deity and the impact he/she has had on the singer. I don't want to speculate as to who or what the deity could be but if you are familiar with the band and really listen to the lyrics of this track, you'll be able to figure it out. But the overall feeling from this song is just one of awe, power and admiration. The music on this track is some of my favorite the band has ever done and they do it while still having their classical rock sound sneak in a time or two.
I have always loved the vocals on Ghost's albums and have usually found the music to either get a little repetitive or just not really feeling the music run through me like some albums and artists tend to do. However, with "Meliora", the band have managed to really up the ante with the music and with some of the aforementioned deviations from the musical, shadowy path they walk, this may be my favorite album of theirs from beginning to end. The sounds and audioscapes that are painted and played on "Meliora" are ones that you can lose yourself in entirely and then find another angle that you didn't catch before that opens up a whole new vista to explore and immerse yourself into. The album's production has some incredible clarity and really allows each element to work both individually and as a cohesive unit to create this swirling, almost never ending aural ambience throughout.
Ghost is a band that has had a somewhat meteoric rise since their first album and that rise has continued and their star has continually shone brightly while silhouetted against a pitch black sky. "Meliora" continues that ride and will further add to the luminous quality of their star. Go out and buy a copy of "Meliora" immediately, you will not regret it. Favorite tracks are "Spirit", "From the Pinnacle to the Pit", "He Is", "Mummy Dust" and "Deus In Absentia".