There are many names one could call good ole Grier. Some are four-letter words, others are adolescent guesses at my initials, and the last is whatever insult gets administered by the gorilla at the AMG wheel. All are hurtful and unnecessary (you sonsabitches). So much so that I continue to contemplate the installation of a safe place at the AMG Southwest offices. But, not one of you rat bastards would dare say Grier was afraid of a challenge—no matter how fucking weird an album may be. I desire boundary-pushing outfits (errrr… unless it’s prog), I desire something unique and entertaining, and I crave something good, bad, and ugly. I rate low and hate high, I’m always unpleased and unsatisfied, and I have the tendency to review shit that no one wants. You know, like Fozzy and Wintersun. And you know the worst part about it? No matter how bad or ugly it gets, I hate to admit I kinda enjoy it. But, who in their right mind would grab the debut record from Priest—a band consisting of ex-Ghosts and as far back in leftfield as one can get? But, like that other Swedish band, they’re about as retro ’80s as it gets. It’s just that they play… ummm… synth-pop…
OK, I know what you’re thinking, but all the wtf’s in the world ain’t gettin’ you out of this one. You have to hear it. Combining Britain’s New Romantics era with synthy-pop elements (Eurythmics and Depeche Mode) and brooding darkwave influences (The Sisters of Mercy), Priest delivers something between a ’80s chick flick soundtrack and a black-leather sex dream. Now, take that wet dream and coat it in the band members’ deep-seated hate (well, as far as I can tell) for their previous band. “The Pit” and “History in Black,” in particular, seem to hint at some discontent and revel in the freedom attained from their escape. As you contemplate these insider tidbits, this retro-styled record will suck you in and remind you why you hate your parents for conceiving you in the ’80s. And, if you were fortunate enough to avoid that period of pop-music history, let New Flesh be your crash course in the shit that made the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Also… fuck you for being so lucky1.
But for all the jibes, opener “The Pit” is one synthy, high-energy piece, with an addictive chorus. Sure, that one sentence may be the coffin nail Steel drives through my metal testicles, but that doesn’t make “The Pit” any less fun. Well, that’s if you can find any “fun” in this musical genre. If the catchy verse-chorus-verse-chorus, followed by building a transition-to-massive chorus, doesn’t do anything for you (even a little bit), then you might as well give up on New Flesh. And, if you didn’t like “The Pit,” then the moody (and possibly anti-Ghost) “History of Black,” the Kraftwerk-meets-Eurythmics “The Cross,” and the sweet-and-calm “Virus” will most likely piss you off even more. But, for those that have that ’80s blood soaring through your veins (even if you deny it), will find something “fun” in these four tracks.
Other than these four songs, there’s not much else here that really grabs me. “Vaudeville” and “Private Eye” are next-tier material (if there was ever a top tier), but they’re just a notch above unforgettable. While songs like “Populist” and “Nightmare Hotel” go nowhere. But the worst tracks on the album have to be the two closing pieces. Though there’s nothing perfect about this album, it’s stronger in the front than the back. And it’s mostly these two back-to-back ditties (“Call My Name” and “Reloader”) that cause this problem. They are both brooding pieces that try to be another “History in Black,” but are only memorable for their whiny vocals and absurd video game effects. For the most part, the album has a fun, upbeat, ’80s retro vibe, but these two pieces kill it at the end.
That said, I suspect 95% of our readers are gonna hate the shit out of this thing. And we all know there isn’t a stronger word than “hate.” But, for those of you that aren’t the biggest fans of Ghost and want to see what their ex-bandmates are up to, this is one helluva coin-flip to Sweden’s beloved Scooby Doo sound. Love it or hate it, New Flesh is a game designed to fuck with you. And, boy, has it fucked with me. While it’s definitely not my favorite album, by any means, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little “fun.”