Ghost, as stated in many reviews, are a divisive force. Their image alone is enough to spark a debate as to whether or not they are a cheap gimmick or whether it’s an integral part of the experience. One cannot totally listen to the music away from the image though, Ghost are more than just a musical act, and are, in effect, a multi-media art platform. “Meliora” saw a new Papa Emeritus emerge, the 3rd, as well as a stylist totally reinvigorate the band’s image. With this physical evolution also comes the music evolution.
‘Spirit’, the album’s opener, begins similar to “Infestissumam”, a darker and twisted vision of Blue Oyster Cult yet ‘From Pinnacle to the Pit’ follows up with an echoed to “Opus Eponymous”, incorporated more of the heavy, classic metal, guitar. This is the vein the album travels, more focus on the guitar riffs, yet it doesn’t forget the strides made in their sophomore album, and the keyboard still retains an important place in the album.
The albums first single ‘Cirice’ is enough to see the retention of the classic heavy metal sound, and it was a great choice for single. It contains the ‘summary’ of the albums evolution (“more guitar, but let’s keep the keyboards“) and manages to remain a significant song with plenty of enjoyable passages to chew on. ‘He Is’ shows a totally different aspect to Ghost that has never really been fully exploited. An acoustic, folk-hymn that demonstrates the band’s talents to write a “ballad”, the word being used tentatively. The near, music more basic, Dream Theater moment in ‘Mummy Dust’ is one of the most enjoyable part of the album.
‘Absolution’ and ‘Majesty’ appear to battle it out as to which is the most significant and important song on the album, both demonstrate the most important aspects, and incorporate some of the most enjoyable sections, of the album. The former also has the best, not only, example of a catchy chorus on the album and its chirpier instrumental sections scattered amidst it make for a wholly entertaining song, its middle section is absolutely extraordinary. ‘Deus in Absentia’ then comes in however, and lays down its benchmark.
Papa‘s calm, and curiously serene vocals are on of the greatest parts of Ghost‘s identity. Whilst some may criticise a ‘lack of range’, it does not require anything different, at least not yet. He is disturbing live, but on the record alone is a gentle, almost comforting voice that is a near counterpoint to the lyrical content. This sometimes is reflected with the music which can be charming and spriteful, yet underneath it is haunting, brooding.
Verdict – 8/ 10 – Meliora is another proud addition to Ghost‘s catalogue and their clever progression between each release is helping them to establish themselves as an incredible force in the world of music