Ghost_MelioraThe ghouls behind the masks and papal garb are back from Bizarro Vatican City (aka Linköping, Sweden) for the third installment of the Ghost story. And what a strange story it’s been, what with the tragic and untimely passing of both Papa Emeritus I and II and the ascension of II’s “younger brother,” III to vocal prominence on Meliora (Latin for “better”). I made no secret of my throbbing love for their Opus Eponymous debut, and made even fewer bones about my disappointment with follow-up Infestissumam. With the band tied one and one and the writing apparently now being handled by producer to the stars Klas Åhlund, I looked to Meliora to determine if Ghost was a flash in the pan or a serious act worthy of the buzz their enigmatic antics earned them. Well, it looks like the Roulette Wheel of Fate landed on “buzzworthy,” as the third time is definitely the charm. The haunting and devil fornicating can now begin anew.

In a nutshell, Meliora is a return to the style of their debut, which means Blue Öyster Cult with extra Satanism for her pleasure. Sometimes the Satanic component comes by way of a recycled Mercyful Fate riff, other times from church organs and the Book of Aleister Crowley lyrics (and for the last time, no you can’t ride the man’s white horse). But what makes this collection of songs shine is how insanely catchy and entertaining they are. This is a vastly more immediate and addictive spin than Infestissumam, where it seemed the band got bogged down trying to distance themselves from their slick debut. By contrast, these tunes feel much more off-the-cuff, effortless and in line with their strengths, and that makes a big difference.

Opener “Spirit” is an easily digestible, saccharine sweet and rocking slice of Blue Oyster pie, not as gobsmacking as classics like “Ritual” or “Elizabeth,” but still enjoyable in that Beach Blanket Beelzebub style Ghost invented. Pappa I, II, III’s vocals are as smooth and stuck in the 60s as always and the trusty organs provide just the right amount of creepy religious zealotry. “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” is one of the best tunes these weirdos have crafted yet, with a laid back coolness and a chorus you’ll be singing before the end of your first listen. There’s a faint whiff of Witchfinder General in the air and the song will stick to your ribs like a prison shiv.

Ghost_2015

And the beauty of Meliora is that all the songs have a similar charm and appeal. “Cirice” is a great song with another chorus you can’t ignore, and “He Is” has an excellently trippy vibe, sounding like The Mamas and Papas backed by Blue Oyster Cult with traces of the Eagles. This one could be the sister song to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear a Flower in Your Hair)” and that’s quite an offbeat accomplishment to hang from your vestments. “Mummy Dust” is a wonderful title and a lovingly eccentric tune, and “Absolution” is the token Mercyful Fate tribute you can almost hear King Diamond singing. Closer “Deus in Absentia” introduces slight touches of Thin Lizzy guitar-work and there will never be another song about burning in a pyre that sounds this joyous.

There isn’t a weak song to be found on Meliora, and it’s like Infestissumam never happened, with that album’s attempts at trippy psychedelica and lava lamp fetishism banished to the void as the band returns to their rocking core.

Blue Oyster Cult Plus Satan!Pappa III’s silky smooth, hippie-dippie vocals weave all sorts of hooks and traps, ensnaring all but the most jaded of listeners. His performance gives Ghost a unique sound even as they gleefully rob the vaults of their ancestors for inspiration. To aid Pappa in his unholy crusade, the album features an abundance of wicked guitar work dripping like black candle wax off the coven’s entertainment center/altar of sacrifice. The style and approach may be borrowed from a more established Cult, but it’s wildly effective nonetheless. Performances aside, it’s the high-quality writing that makes Meliora so intoxicating, and horns and hails to this Klas Åhlund character if his involvement resulted in this fine return to form [lol. Hard to imagine.AMG]!

As for weak points, I suppose the extremely accessible, almost poppy nature of the songs may hurt the album’s staying power after the newness wears off, but I’ve been spinning the bejeezus out of it and still find it richly entertaining. It helps that it’s a short album (just over 42 minutes), as it flies by quickly leaving you wanting more.

I didn’t know what to expect from Meliora, but Ghost got under my skin again and I’m sorry for doubting their otherworldly powers. It’s rare a mega-hyped band lives up to their press, and that’s what happened here, so I officially declare the House of Steel to be haunted once again. Boo-urns!


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: N/A | Format Reviewed: Album Stream
Label: Loma Vista Recordings
Websites: ghost-official.com | facebook.com/thebandghost
Releases Worldwide: August 21, 2015

Share →
  • André Snyde Lopes

    “D-R-U-H-M under speeeeeEEEEEeeeeeeell,
    of the death kneeeeeeeeell, death kneeeell.”

  • Luciano

    Except for a text published in the Quietus, I have not read so far any review which does not consider Meliora a masterpiece. I think there may be a problem with me then, because I consider this album a bit disappointing with its excessive use of progressive keyboards and the lack of a certain gloominess more present in Infestissumam, for example. Even though I like “Cirice” now, it took me some time to dig it, whereas “Year Zwero” grabbed me as THE Ghost anthem since de beginning. In fact, I like Meliora, but “Majesty” and “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” simply cannot excite me. The last track, though, is one of the few very good songs of the album, to me.

    • I dunno if I’d’ve gone 4. I think it’s a 3 or 3.5. Really enjoying it, but I don’t think it’s a masterpiece.

      • Luciano

        Yeah, 3 would be a better choice, IMO. I ‘m also enjoying it, but I think this record is… inconsistent. Take “From the Pinnacle…”, for example. Its chorus is really well built and catchy, but the song’s “body” is sort of monotonous. The opposite happens with “Majesty”, which starts as if Blackmore/ Lord decided to worship Satan with the help of Dave Murray but, for the chorus, everything turns a bit too proggy.
        I do like the other songs a lot, specially “Spirit” and “Deus in Absentia” (“Cirice” and “Mummy Dust” are easy choices), but “Majesty” and “From the Pinnacle…” can really affect the overall experience for me. Also, as I said, I cannot easily feel the sonorous satanicity of Infestissumam here (again, “Spirit”, “Deus in Absentia” and the two instrumental interludes are exceptions).

    • Stuart Blessman

      Ditto. Year Zero is just perfect.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Yes!!!!!

    • This.

      • HippieOfDeath

        That.

        • 517H

          And the other.

          • Dr. Scorpion

            And the one other than the other other.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I quit.

          • Dr. Scorpion

            :P

  • KingKuranes

    I actually liked Infestissumam more than the debut (maybe I’m in the minority). What I’ve heard of this sounds very promising too.

    • JW(E)G

      I don’t know about ‘more’, but I think it’s fair to say I found them equally worth replays.

    • Karmazov

      I agree in full. It was a wonderful album, HP Lovecraft.

    • El_Cuervo

      I’m with you on this one, despite the bully circle the rest of the staff will undoubtedly enclose me with. Infestissumam is great.

      • BOO!

        • I too have no idea what was in your coffee the day you wrote that review. I’m with EC on this one. Fight me?

          • Same thing that’s in my coffee every day: vodka and whisky!

            I’ll fight ya, but I’m using tomahawks because I’m olde school..

          • That’s nice. You see that girl in the video? She’s with me. Good luck with those tomahawks.

          • Steel Druhm cares not for her cheap psi-tricks.

          • Buddy, your face paint is on fire now. Yeah, she’s that good.

    • Luciano

      I already like Infestissumam more than Meliora…

    • Stuart Blessman

      Ditto. Year Zero is what grabbed me, the opening track brought me back for more, and Monstrance Clock cemented me as a fan. Almost skipped a wedding I was in to go see them…

    • Chris Timbó

      Count me in the minority too. I liked Infestissumam well enough to buy it, but only liked Ritual from the debut.
      Well, to each his own.
      From what I heard, it seems that this will be pretty good too. Hope it gets released in Brazil.

    • Wilhelm

      I agree the second album is way better and more interesting than the first. I have no idea why people think otherwise.

    • unsound

      I fully agree. I read the AMG review of Infestissumam and I have time and again listened to the album to try to see the negative things that they saw… but no, It’s just sheer pleasure listening to this record. Some songs are somewhat weak and the production is a bit bombastic in the low frequencies but the musical high points are so frequent that the album just doesn’t get boring to me.

      And to be clear about this, I listened to Opus Eponymous like crazy before Infestissumam came out, and I do think that the style of song writing changed somewhat from Opus to Infestissumam, but the quality didn’t.

  • Francesco Bordoni

    Cirice. Best. Video. Ever.

    • It really, really is.

    • Metal music videos are usually pretty redundant but first time viewing I barely paid attention to the music. It’s so fun.

    • PFC

      Although I liked this one too, Year Zero was one of the best videos I’ve seen in recent memory.

      • De2013

        Agree, I was thinking the same thing. It came out around the same time of Behemoth’s “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” (or at least I discovered them both) and I watched both of them quite a lot.

    • I would agree, but Iron Reagan’s “Miserable Failure” video exists.

    • Kinda Queen – “The Miracle” + Carrie. :P Sorry for the hipsterism though!

  • Pimpolho

    YES!!!!! YEEEES!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH <3
    (dumb fanboyism apart, great review, master steel)

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    I’m admittedly not too fond of Ghost’s music, but the embedded track sounds quite good.
    Maybe I should revisit the previous 2 albums as well.

  • Danny Becker

    i never understood the hate for infestissuman on here. Can anyone elaborate why it was a disappointment? How do yo guys not like that album? How do you guys not like how frickin catchy every chorus of every song is? How do you hate monstrance clock? The production is a little over the top, but that’s it. Ghost remains one of the most consistent and refreshing bands to this date!

    All of their albums to me have been 4.5 or greater cuz i’m a fanboy :)

    • I won’t comment on the first set of questions because people have different opinions and as a fanboy you need to deal with that. It’s a process.

      However, YES, the production on the last record was a little silly if you ask me. I pray the vinyl master on this one doesn’t suffer the same fate.

    • It was an enormous snooze fest and I didn’t even get a free t-shirt!

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Agreed. Pure boredom. I was so mad when I bought that album and gave it a first listen. Just nothing there compared to this and their debut.

    • I liked the songs very much, though the mastering was heinous. But definitely another rebel against Steel Druhm here!

    • Luciano

      100% agreed! Infestissumam fucking rocks!

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I’m a big fan, but sadly I found Infestissumam a bit boring. I still play eponymous regularly, where as I stopped feeling any compulsion to listen to Infestissumam after a few weeks.
      That said, if someone put it on I wouldn’t complain or tear my ears off and I’d probably vaguely enjoy it, but to my ears it was disappointing, not bad but disappointing.
      It’s quite a nebulous thing to define why it’s disappointing because it largely comes down to preference, taste and speculation. For me, the impression I have is that the band’s songwriting was in someway unconsciously or consciously affected by the success of eponymous. I wouldn’t be surprised if the process in which the songs where written changed after their initial success. Or if the conceptual switch from the creatively casual experience of writing that first batch of songs, to writing the follow up to a surprise hit album, didn’t take a toll in the quality of the output.
      All ancient history now, as It really seems to me they’re back in a big way with this one!

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Except year zero is an awesome song

    • I love Infestissumam. Production may not be the best (those songs sound so HEAVY live) and some choruses have too much repetition (“Zombie Queen” is an example). But the melodies are great and choirs in general make me drool.

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      I really like Infestiss. It’s different than Opus certainly, but so is Meloria. I think there are a number of songs on there that are great, especially Ghuleh/Zombie Queen.

      Infestiss has the worst cover art by a large margin. But I love the per song drawings in the book, something I’m really happy they carried over to this release.

    • MrEvilNES

      I don’t know, it wasn’t as powerwolf as the first one and ended sounding a bit boring. I wasn’t bad, for sure, but it wasn’t as catchy as the first one (or Meliora, which is by far their best)

  • Fun fact, contrary to what I thought, “Meloria” really does mean ‘better’ in Latin. Which makes me like this band even more.

    • Alberto Moriconi

      “Meliora” is plural neuter nominative, so I guess a more fitting translation would be “the better things”.
      Hard to say if this is intentional or if just “better” (i.e. melior) was meant.

      Ah, I’ll take the chance to thank you and the staff for the great reviews and articles… just to avoid being remembered only as the Latin nerd of the blog’s comments ;)

  • sssgadget

    Just cannot get into Ghost. Without the makeup and antics, this is just generic rock. Having said that with this being so popular, I expect it to be record of the month for August?!

    • Not kvlt enough!

    • But that’s why we like it: makeup; antics. What’s the problem?

      • sssgadget

        No problem at all. :)

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I guess you don´t like KISS either…

      • sssgadget

        No. Never heard.

    • A.j. Vasta

      more like record of the year for 2015

  • groverXIII

    I’m in full agreement. Meliora feels like a return to the style that got my attention in the first place, and there really isn’t a weak song. Even ‘Absolution’, which initially seemed underwhelming, has proven to be impossible to get out of my head. The truest way for me to judge this album is the fact that when I’m not listening to it, I really wish I was. I can’t stop!

    • 517H

      Man I agree. After a few spins, Absolution is starting to stand out quite a bit. Cool catchy riffs

  • Lasse Momme

    What in the world of FUCK did i just watch.

  • Kronos

    Great album, and it has really cool cover art to boot! That implied skull is quite the image.

    • You catching them October 3rd? Not that there aren’t five other worthy shows that day, with Russian Circles, Nocturnus AD, and now Bongripper/Oozing Wound.

      • Kronos

        Yeah I think I might.

      • Between The Buried & Smee

        I’m also going to Ghost that night, because Bongripper just played that same venue a few weeks ago. It’s gonna hurt missing Nocturnus though.

        • Yeah, I caught them in February, but I missed them twice this summer by being in San Diego, and missed their San Diego date by being too young. Plus, it’s hard to miss Oozing Wound.

          • Between The Buried & Smee

            I was able to make both their summer Chicago shows. I wish they could make their next show start at 12 and make it a Ghost afterparty.

          • I’d be SO down.

      • I’m catching them in NYC for sure.

  • HippieOfDeath

    Man, I loved Opus and Infestiummam but this one I found just disappointing.

    Between the more modern approach and the songwriting being kinda generic (to me at least), Ghost seem to have lost their personality on Meliora…

  • Siege Bantayan

    When Cirice was first released as a single it didn’t really hit me, but upon revisiting the song I can’t get it out of my head now. Hearing Lord Druhm’s verdict of it as a return to Opus Eponymous’ style I think I’m going to enjoy this a lot.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Pretty catchy song up there. Looking at the rating, I should probably check out the rest of this thing. Great review, Steel.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great video great song, love i. The guitar solo at the end is so classic and classy I’m compelled to keep repeating the track :)

    Is it just me or is there a hint of “Trick or Treat” magic in this clip?

    Im expecting (hoping) a southern hemisphere spring to be dominated by this and the new Maiden album.

  • sava636

    Per Aspera Ad Inferi
    Monstrance Clock
    are still more catchy than Anything on Meliora.
    What the beautiful new album is missing, is The Ghostly Haunting LATIN WORD Choruses . They have this new album, and yet, what do they end their shows with…MONSTRANCE CLOCK.
    INFESTISSUMUM…was contagious.
    Meliora is a masterpiece of writing, and layed out like a VINYL RECORD. I think this album is a slow grower, and first 2 albums will always be the pinnacle.
    #MUMMYDUST

  • 517H

    Drinking game: take a shot every time Blue Oyster Kvlt is referenced. Great review though, Steel. “Enigmatic antics” is a doozy

  • OzanCan

    I love the keyboard solo, they should do it more \m///

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Before the video: Didn’t know what to expect.
    After the video: Didn’t know why I didn’t know what to expect!
    This is their second kvming!

  • brutal_sushi

    Mummy Dust… this song is like a great B side from Opus Eponymous… and I LOVE IT!!! This album is fucking great.

  • Dennis Thomsen

    I didn’t realize the singer was establishing himself as a new pope every album. Isn’t there some manner of the Catholic church’s fairy tale that suggests when they reach a certain pope number it will be the last one cause that is when the end times are upon us etc etc?
    I wonder if this suggests an end to the Ghost lineage as well.

    • Wilhelm

      They are all different singers (just play along =))

  • sir_c

    If Mercyful Fate would be an espresso, Ghost would be a latte macchiato with sugar.

    I just listened to the embedded track, and based upon that I prefer Year Of The Goat over this.

  • Wilhelm

    Great review, I’m just so unapologetically in love with this band. The last album was one of my favorites and this is coming really close. The 70’s pop sensibilities and the satanic rock elements shine through on this one (“He Is” could pass for Abba covering a christian hymn, perverted by the Adversary, of course)

    I think the DR is 7 or 8, which is plenty good, but the drums sound too compressed (plus the bass drum seems mixed louder in spots) but it doesn’t really affect my enjoyment. It’s just a solid album.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    This band is ok, is not bad, is not great, is just fun and entertaining, certainly is not the most amazing thing to ever happen to music like most fans of this band think it is, is like a band that would be on a fictional world in a comedy show, i dont think is metal either, is like a hard rock pop satanism for children, i just dont get all the hype, again, i am not saying is bad

    • madhare

      I am among the non-believers as well. It’s the basic metal recipe – “let’s make horror movie music because it sells”, but the whole thing seems too commercial and too deliberate to be interesting.

      Purely musically it’s kind okay, but wouldn’t really pay much attention to it if I head it from the radio without any context. As stated, it’s nice and not bad, but nothing more.

      I see this in a similar light to humour bands. Gives you a slight grin first time you hear it, but gets old soon.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    This is awesome! Amazon says it will come out on Aug, 21st but no indication they’ll get anything other than a downloadable version. If so, this will be the fifth CD I’ll be ordering directly from a bands website this past year (joining Alustrium, Dreamgrave, Trials, and Wilderun) that I would never have put the extra clicks into finding if not for this site! Either way, I’m all over this CD when it’s released.

  • Rob

    “He Is” is the most uplifting song about the devil ever written. I liked the first two albums, the gimmick was interesting…but this album blows the fucking doors off. So good.

  • I will buy anything that has a faint whiff of Witchfinder General on it.

  • Shangsean

    Just bought the album today. Only listened to it twice so far. It’s not as catchy as I’d hoped, but maybe that will come. However, He Is gets my vote for song of the year so far. It gives me goosebumps. For the record, I prefer the debut to the followup, which I thought had a very bland first half. The second half was much better. Year Zero, Zombie Queen and Monstrance Clock were the highlights for me.

  • Hammersmith

    I noticed this is “Mastered for iTunes”.. is this a good thing or a bad thing?

  • Danny Becker

    i bought my copy today at best buy. They made an error in their price tag so I bought four copies at 1.99 each! EBAY TIME!

  • Angel R. Suarez

    This is, to be honest, probably my favorite release from this band so far. I’ve been spinning this album over and over.

  • MrEvilNES

    Oh God. Now From The Pinnacle To The Pit is stuck in my head again.
    “You are cast out from the heavens to the ground
    Blackened feathers falling doooooooown…”
    Album of the year. DEFINITELY.

  • Richard Jarvis

    Seeing them live in portland oregon tonight!

  • Stephen Paden

    Cirice is the Anti-Life In Technicolor II video, which I welcome.

  • Requiem

    I’m in LOVE with one of their latest, Square Hammer. Also, I’m apparently in the minority that agree with the verdict on Infestissumam. So there’s that. :P