GHOST – Infestissumam

Ghost - InfestissumamTo follow up a successful album, especially a debut, can be a really hard task. To follow up the biggest hype of the decade really should make even the best musician somewhat sweaty. When Ghost released their debut album Opus Eponymous in 2010, they created quite a stir. Not only for their very melodic Blue Öyster Cult meets Mercyful Fate brand of 70’s rock to shove their satanic messages into people’s minds, but also for their image and the way they expressed themselves. Their main character and lead singer, Papa Emeritus appeared as an evil pope with inverted crosses and who he might be for real was held in secrecy and when interviews was being made, the interviewer was blindfolded and then taken to an unknown area and when the interview was over, the same thing on their way back. The rest of the band, two guitarists, a bassist, drummer and a keyboard player are only known as nameless Ghouls who perform wearing masked hoods. A very smart move as they created a mystique around themselves that echoed all around the world. And it worked like a charm. When people like James Hetfield wear your t-shirt while raving about you on national tv and guys like Duff McKagan and Phil Anselmo hold you as one of their favourites, there’s a big chance that you won’t fail. Of course, holding their identities a secret in these days of internet is almost impossible and it didn’t take long for people to find out who was hiding behind the Papa figure. So what to do? Change of character, of course. During a gig before the release of their new album, a new pope was presented as Papa Emeritus II and the mike was handed over by the old Papa.

But how about the music, then – are they any good? Well, many people believe that they are nothing but one big hype that can’t hold up musically. I beg to differ. There is no way in Hell that you become as big as Ghost are without the songs. Image alone doesn’t make a band. Even though their debut wasn’t without flaws, the great songs were in majority which makes for huge expectations from fans all over the world, so this follow up is a real trial by fire. And I must say they have succeed with this one. What strikes me most after one listen is that all the Mercyful Fate influences are gone, but not the BÖC ones. Also, this album leans more towards 60’s and 70’s hard rock music and the small thrash metal references that appeared on the debut are nowhere to be found here – and I believe all this is a good thing. This album shows Ghost getting their own sound and identity across. The opening title track is an instrumental and it sounds like we’re about to participate in a black mass or something and that one is followed by “Per Aspera Ad Inferi”, a very effective rock song with its hypnotic chanting. First single “Secular Haze” is next, a brilliant rocker that mixes BÖC and Uriah Heep with a pop feel and a creepy groove and keyboards that makes me think of a carnival, “Jigilo Har Megiddo” is more of a pop song although on the darker side and goes almost into psychedelic territory.

“Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” is easily one the album’s finest moments. It starts out as 70’s prog but transfers into a very catchy rock song with a cool arrangement and a killer chorus that has a 60’s feel over it, “Year Zero” is another highlight that has a catchy satanic chanting that feels like a hit and will probably be a killer live, “Idolatrine” is brilliant, very 60’s flower power influenced, “Body And Blood” is a great 70’s rocker and “Monstrance Clock” is another one of those mind-blowing, almost hypnotic songs that just won’t leave your brain. To be honest, I am impressed. The only song that doesn’t go all the way, without being actually bad, is “Depths Of Satan’s Eyes”, a song I just can’t grasp for some reason, but the rest of the album is damn brilliant. Even though I can’t find the direct hits like “Ritual” or “Elizabeth” from debut, this album is more even and somehow more accessible. How long Papa and his Ghouls can keep this up is impossible to say, but with or without their image, the music sure stands up well on its own and even if this whole satanic stunt is revealed, I’m sure the music will be enough to keep their career going.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

01. Infestissumam
02. Per Aspera Ad Inferi
03. Secular Haze
04. Jigolo Har Megiddo
05. Ghuleh / Zombie Queen
06. Year Zero
07. Idolatrine
08. Body And Blood
09. Depth Of Satans Eyes
10. Monstrance Clock

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5 comments on “GHOST – Infestissumam

  1. For the record this is the first review I have read of this album!

    You’re dead on right that this band is NOT just an image. They obviously have very cool record collections, because you can hear all these great influences in the songs. The musicianship is great, the vocals are unique, and they know how to write songs. There’s three critical ingredients there, to a band who has potential to last the ages.

    Can’t wait to get this one! Hurry up, next paycheck…

  2. I’ve only had one quick listen to this online so far… I didn’t find it as immediately enjoyable as the debut so your positive review is encouraging. I’m looking forward to getting this on CD and giving it the chance it deserves!

  3. Some people say it might take a couple of spins before it sticks, but I grasped it by first listen. But watch out for the loudness war, specially on track #2. Could be a bit annoying.

    • It certainly didn’t grab me like the first album but then they were totally new to me at that point. That’s a shame about the loudness. Seems to be par for the course on a lot of major label releases these days? Don’t think that’ll put me off too much, I liked Death Magnetic! If I can put up with that I can put up with anything! Haha

  4. Oh, don’t get me started on Death Magnetic. That album is horrible even without the loudness… 😉

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