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Operating within a culture obsessed with celebrity, fiercely anonymous satanic metal sextet Ghost are an anomaly, choosing to reject the idolatry bestowed upon rock god’s in favour of living artistic lives dedicated to spreading the message of the dark lord.
That mission has been going devilishly well, with legions of followers worldwide joining the clergy of Ghost’s dark mass. There’s always room for more in the congregation though, so on Meliora (better in latin) we find Ghost in pursuit of something more.
Led by the eery croon of ‘new’ frontman Papa Emeritus III, who has taken the ferula following the ‘untimely passing’ of his predecessor ‘Papa Emeritus II’, Ghost reach hypnotic new heights on Meliora, working with producer to the stars Klas Åhlund (Madonna, Katy Perry, Swedish House Mafia), to inject a variety of new sonic elements into their brand of organ-infused classic metal, resulting in an addictive batch of satanic hymns that make the prospect of a godless earth sound rather inviting.
Spirit welcomes all to the third sitting of the black mass with a seductive blend of hammer-fisted riffs, gregorian chants, vintage keyboards and glockenspiel, as the Nameless Ghouls provide procession music for their leaders ascension.
From The Pinnacle to The Pit shows the new Papa means business, as mesmeriSing guitar riffs join forces with an unholy cacophony of sounds to create an unsettling backdrop over which Papa sings an aggressive ode to the toppling of religious hierarchy. The pop nous of Ahlund shines through the darkness creating an unabashed earworm, satanism has never sounded so enticing.
Cirice captivates, channelling early Black Sabbath with its Iommi style riffs, while He Is is a spookily beautiful acoustic guitar led hymn to the morning star somewhat reminiscent Blue Oyster Cult.
Home to a melodic refrain that could convert a nun to the darkside, it’s inspired new territory for Ghost. On the heavier side of the ledger, the brooding Absolution conjure apocalyptic visions.
As a clock ticks down the minutes to the defeat of god in closer Deus In Absentia , Papa leads his Nameless Ghouls in victory song, as they revel in a world where humankind has been stripped to its primal instincts. Melodies soar and riffs blaze as a sea of voices sings out to an absent god.
To the unconverted it might sound depressing, but to the clergy, this will be intellectual and sonic hell. As the final note rings out, the overriding notion is one of elation at the prospect of starting again in a world stripped bare of misguided, tarnished faiths, a chance to make things Meloira.
Listen: Ghost – Meliora (Full Stream)