After months of hype, teases and previews the release of Ghost’s highly anticipated third LP is finally upon us. If you’ve been following the Nameless Ghouls’ trail of hints, you’ve already heard almost half the record. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but given the quality of the previewed songs is continued by the even more daring set yet to be revealed, and how well the record flows as a whole, I can’t complain. Of Meliora’s 10 tracks, 2 are instrumental interludes and 4 have already been revealed via bootlegged live performances and official streams.
We’ve already written in depth about the previewed tracks “From the Pinnacle to the Pit”, “Cirice”, “Majesty” and “Absolution”, so how do the deep cuts stack up? “Spirit” opens things up in grand Ghost fashion, a slow build to a stone faced death march on all the world’s capital cities. Short piano and acoustic guitar interlude “Spoksonat” sets the stage for “He Is”, an almost Simon and Garfunkel-esque folk anthem of satanic devotion. Kayfabe new vocalist Papa Emeritus III sings of “two star crossed lovers reaching out to the beast with many names” over beautiful acoustic guitar work that grows into Queen-style 70’s arena rock pomp and circumstance as the other band members join in. It’s definitely the strangest track on the record, almost right up there with Infestissumam’s necrophiliac torch song turned zombified surf rock freakout “Ghouleh/Zombie Queen”, but not quite.
“He Is” gives way to “Mummy Dust”, another risk taking first for the band, a driving rocker where Papa takes on an uncharacteristically fast paced low rasp, similar to Axl Rose, Corey Taylor or Ministry’s Al Jourgensen. The risk pays off for the band, as many do, as this was a standout track for me, and a great anchor to the record’s midpoint. “Majesty” and “Absolution” are bridged by second instrumental, “Devil Church”. The whole band contributes to this one, sounding like a more rocking outtake from Wendy Carlos’ soundtrack to Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”. You’ll wish that they worked this into a full song, and I still hope they do. The familiar ticking of a “Monstrance Clock” brings us to the truly epic album closer “Deus in Absentia”. Forging the apocalyptic feelings of both melancholy and triumph from Opus Eponymous’ instrumental closer “Genesis” into full vocalized song form, this is both the literal and figurative victory lap for Papa and the Ghouls. “The world is on fire, and you are here to stay and burn with me. A funeral pyre, and we are here to revel forever more…”
With this release Ghost proves that they are no fake, fly by night, flash in the pan. The cleverness, songwriting prowess and instrumental and vocal skill on display here is undeniable, and any heavy music fan scared of or put off by the so called “gimmickry” of the imagery needs to get over themselves and give this band another listen.
Meliora will be officially released on Vinyl, CD and Digital Download by Loma Vista Recordings on 8/21/15, but is currently streaming at Ghost’s official Youtube channel. Of course, Ghost will be at a sold out Union Transfer on 9/29, rescheduled from the original date of 9/26 due to the Papal visit. Apparently Philly wasn’t big enough for the two of them, and Papa III was gracious in his concession.