Ghost // Infestissuman
Rating: 2.0/5.0 — BOOOOO!
Label: Loma Vista Recordings
Websites: ghost-official.com  |  myspace.com/thebandghost/music
Release Dates: Out now!

GhostLike many others in the metalverse, Steel Druhm got caught up in the hype surrounding the strangely addictive pope-isms of mysterious cult rockers Ghost and their stellar debut Opus Eponymous. They had a wicked sound, a cool,  throwback charm and the tunes were as catchy as athlete’s foot. While there was a nagging worry they might be a one-off novelty act and would fold up shop like a fly-by-night carnival, I was anxious to get my hands on the not so long-awaited followup, Infestissumam. After some time with the album and after giving this serious thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that Opus Eponymous was their version of The Warning, and Infestissumam is their attempt at a Rage for Order. While Queensryche was able to make the jump from a straight-forward metal album to a more cerebral, progressive sound due to elbow grease, spit (courtesy of Mr. Tate) and sheer talent, Ghost is not quite so lucky. Gone is much of the fun and accessibility of the debut and what is left is a muddle of lesser songs in the style of Opus, weird carnival/circus music and laid back, overly tranquil 70s rock which strives to blend the mood of Blue Oyster Cult‘s Agent of Fortune album with Mr. Bungle and Witchfinder General. In layman’s terms, they done gone and fucked up and fell victim to the insidious sophomore slump. Infestissumam is a drop off in every way except album art and leaves me haunted by disappointment. 2013 is fast becoming the year of metallic tragedy and Ghost is dutifully playing their part in this vicious cycle.

As soon as the church-themed intro faded and the tuneage started, my metal detector warned me that something was amiss. While “Per Aspera Ad Inferi” sounds like a track left over from Opus, it lacks the flair and hooks so common to the debut. It’s decent and sounds like old Ghost, but in itself it’s nothing memorable. “Secular Haze” brings in carny keyboards and tries to provide an eerie ambience, but the song is slow, tame and while the chorus is decent, it won’t exactly floor anybody. Other songs introduce weird and unwelcome influences to the fledgling Ghost sound, like “Jigolo Har Meggido” which sounds like a weird mix of The Stray Cats and The Monkees and that works about as well as you might expect. “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen” is like elevator music with weirder lyrics and while it sets a nicely baked, lava-lampy mood that makes me long for a bean bag chair, it’s way overlong, sleepy and languid.

While the first half of the album certainly has issues, the back-end is worse and songs like “Body and Blood,” Idoltrine” and “Depth of Satan’s Eyes” do little to inspire replays. Lastly, closer “Monstrance Clock” sounds tired and forced (whichGhost-B_C_1 is an ominous sign for such a young band).

What kills me about Infestissumam is that I can still hear the elements of Ghost that I love, they just seem disjointed and scattered across a series of mediocore songs, never able to come together for one mighty Ghost tale. Pappa Emeritus sounds as crisp and clear as ever and his vocals are the saving grace of many of the songs. However, as good as he is, he’s stuck with real dogs from a song-writing standpoint and he can only do so much (he’s a singer and a demon pope, not a miracle worker, Jim!).

The omnipresent and way overdone keyboard, once an ally, have become an enemy and the circus schtick grows old quicker than a banana in summer. The riffs are barely there on most tracks and are placed way back in the mix, leaving little punch or much to hang your hat on from a metal perspective. Even worse, the Mercyful Fate influences are dead and gone with no sign of paranormal activity on the horizon. While Opus wasn’t all that heavy, it still had balls and sounded like metal. This thing got clipped all the way to the base and as a man, I resent that.

Infestissumam is about as scary as Casper and it’s one half average and one half bad. I have no idea where this leaves the band and what they can or will do next, but I’m worried. I’m not ready to give up the Ghost just yet, but that whole “one-off novelty act” thing is getting more believable by the day. Geez, now who are we gonna call??

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  • I felt the same way as you when I first heard the album…but now I fucking love it…It definitely isn’t as good as “Opus…” but it does have its own charm. Give a week or two…

  • I felt the same way as you when I first heard the album…but now I fucking love it…It definitely isn’t as good as “Opus…” but it does have its own charm. Give a week or two…

  • “He’s a singer and a demon pope, not a miracle worker, Jim!” That got a belly laugh.

    Totally agree with you on this one Mr. Druhm. This record is just flat, the song writing is meh, the riffs are non-existence and there is essentially no metal on here, which is probably my biggest complaint.

  • “2013 is fast becoming the year of metallic tragedy”
    I wouldn’t be so hasty.

  • Yes, it’s less “metal” than the last album. I also think it’s twice as good.

    • Well, I certainly don’t hear the improvement. This is a snooze-fest.

      • If you prefer your music loud and metallic and heavy, I can see where you’re coming from. Infestissumam if more about melodies, harmonies and atmosphere than rip-roaring heavy metal.

        • I hear what you’re saying and I like plenty of stuff that isn’t heavy, but the songs didn’t really do anything for me.

          • In the end it’s all a matter of taste, you can’t like everything (for example: I for one never understood the appeal of Slayer and Metallica, but to each their own).

          • GonzO Rodrigue

            I find I remember the melodies from this one way more than the last. “Ritual” and “Elizabeth” are pretty much the only two songs I remember from Opus; over half of this one sticks with me better.

            I think its an improvement over the last one, which I really liked. The downright *happy* sound juxtaposed with the lyrical content is bizarrely awesome.

            In comparison, this sounds like a more genuine Ghost IMO. Like they’re now able to be Ghost, doing what Ghost wants to do. The last one sounds like they made a lot of compromises to make sure they were still perceived as “metal” — and even if it isn’t to everyone’s taste, I find that makes this record more enjoyable than the last.

          • alex vickery

            The best way (I’ve heard) to describe this band is ‘Doom-Pop’. I’ve never liked how they have been classed as a ‘Metal’ band, every Metalhead now expects moshpit music. Ghost is in a class of their own. I’m with you GonzO, ‘Infestissumum’ is Ghost being Ghost. ‘Opus’ a great Album and I’m finding I’m enjoying ‘Infestissumum’ even more. And don’t forget this review was by a guy named ‘Angry Metal Guy’, his always pissed off!!

          • It was actually me that wrote this review and I’m only pissed off 50% of the time. I didn’t expect moshpits, but still found this dull.

        • No, I don’t agree. The last one had great melodies and snappy songwriting. This one has neither of those things, and it also lacks punch.

  • While I wouldn’t even consider Ghost a metal band anymore, I found that after a few spins I really digged this record, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as many are making it out to be (this is one of the more fair ‘negative’ reviews I’ve read on it so far). In a different way than Opus, but, yeah, that cheesy and groovy element of the former stuck around. Tunes like Jigolo Har Medgiddo and Idolotrine make me want to get my Satanic boogie on. If you go into it wanting metal, you’re going to get disappointed (and honestly, I couldn’t fault you for going in with a want of metal), but dig on it for its silly nature and booty shaking grooves and you may find a bit more to like about it.
    And nice Ghostbusters nod there Mr. Druhm ;)

  • I always felt like I should love this band, but I just don’t. They’re kind of boring to me. Their hooks aren’t anywhere near as catchy as the stuff that Vintersorg comes up with.

  • i´m agree with you, ghost is the new guns n´fucking roses lot of oba-oba and so

  • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

    Spot on, dude. Especially about the lack of riffs and Mercyful Fate-ness. Also I like how we’re working Queensryche into everything now.

    • It’s a Queensryche world, we just live in it.

  • RilesBell

    Strongly disagree with this review. It sounds like you were over analyzing each song when really this is just a fun (and mainstream sounding) record which is easy to listen to. It feels like a natural progression to me and might even be better than their debut. Also “Body and Blood” didn’t inspire any replays? That’s the catchiest song I’ve heard this year. The only problem I have is the mastering. It is getting close to Death Magnetic bad on some tracks. They really dropped the ball on that front.

    • I’m with you on this one. This record is awesome.

    • Yeah, the mastering doesn’t help. The production is weirdly muddy, too. But that’s not even the problem, the issue for me is just that the songs don’t work for me.

  • Did like some songs….but can we write this off as a sophomore slump?

  • I like the album more than its predecessor. I agree with the poster who said this album has more memorable hooks than Opus, I too only remember Ritual and Elizabeth. I think they’ve strengthened their songwriting – it’s far more melodic and atmospheric, and they’ve really brought up the theatricality. I see Dungeons and Dragons sessions, Frazetta paintings, 70s exploitation movies and more when I listen to this album. It’s the pop side of dark. Nothing wrong with that.

  • I wasn’t really sold on opus eponymous, and I can see why this has so much appeal for the mainstream, but I just can’t jump in the bandwagon with this band, and specially not with this record.

  • Although I do find some songs on this album pretty good (Depth of Satans Eyes, Year Zero and Zombie Queen), I do agree with your review; the album is disappointing.
    What I do find odd though, is that in most reviews I’ve read about this album, be it negative or positive ones, completely different songs are being liked or disliked. Most songs seem to have some controversy over them.

    Beside that, I suspect that most of the members of Ghost already got enough fame and money from the bands in which they (originally) play(ed). So for them, Ghost would still be a kind of try-out or fun project. In that way, negative reviews wouldn’t really get them down, or make them a fly-by-night carnival as you put it.

  • At first listen I was disappointed, but with repeated listens I came to like most of Infestissumam. But it has lot of issues. It has worn off, the staying power is questionable, there are a couple of dull songs that never did anything for me, like “Jigolo Har Megiddo,” “Body and Blood,” “Idolatrine,” and “Depth of Satan’s Eyes.” The few guitar leads and solos are not memorable at all, unlike Opus. The production is artifitial and over-compressed, which is a shame. So, I have to agree with Steel’s review, it’s not something that’s gonna get much airplay for the rest of the year.

  • funeraldoombuggy

    What?! No mention of Year Zero?!?! That song is untouchable and should bring the album above a 2.0!

  • I agree with the review. I was looking forward to the new record based on how their first grew on me. (I admit the first couple of spins of Opus didn’t wow me.) But the songs were catchy in a way that most bands can’t quite muster.

    Then comes this album. I gave it the “multiple spin” treatment, based on my opinion of the first album, but it just isn’t sticking with me. Either the songs are too much like Opus to stand on their own, or they lost the spark. I can’t really tell which.

    It’s like Opeth’s “Heritage”, I loved some of the songs, but it took several listens for me to get into all the intricacies and subtleties of that album. Now I love it. “Opus Eponymous” was the same, though there wasn’t so much a group of intertwined layers as there was the wall of initial skepticism after hearing the vocals. Here’s to hoping Ghost get enough of a swing to go for a third album to move beyond this one.

  • Sub-par releases from Ghost AND Sodom? Color me disappointed.

  • OzanCan

    I like this album very much, although I must agree it is totally NOT metal. It is really hip and even ridiculously funny :)

  • Bob Bridges

    This review is spot on and this record is no more fun than a Sunday afternoon party at the local retirement home. Boring, and long gone are the elements that made Opus so damn good. Hopefully they’ll rebound on the next one. Don’t get me wrong, I like some of this record well enough, but it doesn’t have lasting, staying power for me. Meh…

  • Your loss. This album is great, albeit different from Opus.

    • I agree it’s our loss. It’s a real shame. I want to love Ghost, but the record isn’t very good.

      It’s funny ’cause I dont’ know a single reviewer who likes the thing. Lots of loud people in blog comments, but every reviewer I know thought it was subpar.

      • KaPOWitsCHRIS

        I’ve seen it get loads of outstanding reviews. It’s a bigger record than their first, they put the money they got from that new record deal to good use. In fact this is the first review I’ve seen that is negative. But as always it is subjective so no use arguing about it :)

  • unsound

    I can’t get over you calling ‘Monstrance clock’ tired and forced. I’ll rate it as one of the best songs on this album along with ‘Ghuleh’, ‘Year zero’ and the opener ‘Infestissumam’ (which is a great intro imo). However it only makes sense to have as the last song/outro.

    I had pretty low expectations when listening to this album the first time because the first single released for this album, ‘Secular haze’, wasn’t too good in my opinion but I was positively surprised after listening to the album. I’ve listened to the entire album about 10 times now and all the songs have definitely grown on me. Even ‘Body and blood’ which I initially thought sounded too poppy for my taste.

    If you had high expectations you might have a different view, but I think if you give the album some time you’ll also grow to appreciate it. Whether it is better than ‘Opus’… I don’t know. It’s different and more atmospheric, but less dark and mysterious. The choruses are generally more catchy on this album, but the rest of the songs are sometimes not as engaging.

    Anyway, I listen to it all the time so that must mean it’s good. If picking a favourite I would choose ‘Ghuleh’.

  • The album is awesome. It’s great to hear them bring these cool elements into the music. There’s heavy parts, mellow parts, prog parts… really a great journey listening to this album.

    • Where were the heavy parts? I must have missed them.

  • oh look another 2/5 review from this site for a great album. i guess if i believed in conspiracies id say your doing it so you get more comments. as you know fans of bands like this will come on and say your an idiot. from reading this review that’s what you are, clueless! they have obviously tried to do something different from Opus instead of releasing the same album and its worked. this album is more progressive , maybe not as catchy or riff orientated but still a great second album which is always difficult. 2 out of 5 is a joke for something as well crafted as this.

    • So I’m a clueless idiot because I don’t share your taste? Fascinating.

      • no not at all, but when you said monstrance is forced and tired i knew you were talking crap. that song is brilliant even better live.

        • Opinion. Not fact. Opinion. Can’t “talk crap” about an opinion unless you give that ALL opinions are crap talking.

      • You weren’t nearly hard enough in response, Druhm.

    • Dude, fuck this noise. We calls ’em like we sees ’em. If I had a thing against commercial metal would I really have given the last Nightwish record a 4.0/5.0? http://www.angrymetalguy.com/nightwish-imaginaerum-review/ How about fucking Sabaton which I gave a 4.5? Or Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody? Or Anathema’s Weather Systems? Or Borknagar’s last record–a big deal from a band much maligned in their later years that I gave a 4.5? Absu. The Black Dahlia Murder.

      That big bands release shitty albums is not our problem. This record? It sucks. That’s not our fault. We all _want_ to like Ghost. They’re shocking and fun, but the record stunk.

      Quit being butthurt when you don’t agree with us and quit accusing us of being biased when you don’t like what we write or quit reading the fucking site.

      • calm down mate , no need to swear like that. i actually like a lot of the reviews here for cnoc an tursa and shade empire etc were spot on. ive also discovered bands from this site so that’s why i come back, but im entitled to call bullshit on something if you are talking out your arse. don’t take it so serious.

        ghost went out and created a different album from the first, i bet if this album sounded exactly like an Opus retread they would be getting abuse also. can’t win. i like progressive rock so i really enjoyed this album and i can go back to Opus for more riff orientated stuff. good start for a relatively new band. i even liked meggido with the monkees influence, and the reviewer was so wrong about monstrance clock. that song is awesome.

        so stop saying im butthurt because im not , its a childish thing to say. your entitled to call me a dick or whatever but if i really disagree with you im gonna say it.

        as someone said below its both your loss as this is a really enjoyable ride of a record. not as good as Opus obviously, but still 2? no fucking way :P

        • A 2.0 is a disappointing. By any standards, you could actually rate literally anything you don’t think is as good as the previous thing with a two and be correct. It’s a disappointment.

          The point is that _your opinion is_ that this record is good, just like _our opinion_ is that this record isn’t good. You’re allowed to call bullshit when the thing being said is factually incorrect, but since these are opinions, you can’t call bullshit on anything.

          My point—and something I hope you really take to heart—is that we call it like we hear it and it has nothing to do with a band’s perceived success. I have a theory as to why big bands start to suck when they get signed to big labels—because the pressure increases, the hobby becomes a job and they’re trying to walk a fine line of doing something they love and having a job of it. Weird incentives and it makes things hard. Also, by the time a band is usually big enough to get signed to major labels, a lot of their ideas have been used up.

          But I love bands that have produced really great records on major labels. I have no problem with bands getting successful and i wish Ghost all the success in the world. It’s too bad they wrote an album with a number of duds and two real stinkers. I’m very disappointed—that’s my opinion. Just like your opinion is that Monstrance is a great song. There is no _fact_ in what you’re saying. Only subjective experience.

          • ghost are one album into this deal how can they possibly be out of ideas already?

            you also say your reviews for popular bands have nothing to do with a bands perceived success then go on to say they suck when signed to major labels. if you don’t like the album then fine but how can you not like year zero and monstrance clock i don’t get that. then again i don’t get how anyone can say they are into metal but not like slayer. that’s like being into classical music and not liking mozart. i don’t trust people like that . that’s why i called bullshit on both of your opinions.

            opinions are like assholes everyone has one, doesn’t mean you cant sprout crap from it :P

          • I love Slayer (the first 6 albums anyway) but this Ghost album is dull and sleepy IMHO. I still love the debut, but I won’t ever be going back to hear this one, so that means it gets a 2.0.

          • your loss with ghost but regarding slayer , been listening to slayer so much last few days. i guess you take things for granted until they are taking away from you. apart from a couple of missteps they stuck to their guns and never went the way of a metallica/megadeth/anthrax. Respect for slayer and RIP Jeff.

          • I’m responding to a critique and then you say that my responding to the critique with an explanation for why things might be the way that they appear is me tacitly admitting that I have said the thing that I haven’t actually said. Well done, dude. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a feat of intellectual dishonesty.

          • oh well, least you thought it was intellectual. as i said both your losses. to get away from this i will also say that being from scotland it was nice to see cnoc an tursa being album of the month. good to see them and falloch on candlelight. not sure if you have covered them before.

  • KingKuranes

    I have to agree with the dissenters, this album is ridiculously good, I think better than the debut. SO CATCHY. “Guleh/Zombie Queen” has been in my head for days, and before that it was “Year Zero.” But hey, I guess we can’t all be Sabaton.

    • How does it feel to be wrong? I wouldn’t know…
      :P

      There are plenty of other bands that I like that aren’t Sabaton, by the way. I don’t even like the band very much, just that one record hit the spot.

  • The Hutch 23

    I would have given this album a 3 after my first listen, but only ever going back and listening to “Secular Haze” or “Year Zero” if the mood strikes me definitely warrants a 2.

  • Raven

    stupid band.. stupid album….