Album Review: Ghost – “Meliora”
Ghost must surely be one of the oddest bands to break on the scene for quite some time. With their Satanic lyrics, druid cowls and Papa Lazarou lookalike lead singer, you’d expect death metal bludgeoning and ultra-heaviosity. Yet musically, they’re almost the ultimate sheep in wolf’s clothing, peddling an ultra-melodic line of goth rock, similar to Type O Negative circa their October Rust magnum opus.
While their sophomore album Infestissimum saw Ghost pushing the keyboards even more to the fore than they’d previously been and almost crossing over into being pure pop music (albeit pop music with a Satanic bent but hey, that’s the best kind right?), Meliora sees the guitars moved into the sound a bit more. The stomping riffs of From The Pinnacle To The Pit and Cirice actually see Ghost almost sounding like a proper metal band for the first time ever, although obviously they can’t help but break the latter up with a classical piano interlude halfway through.
The downside of this new heavier edge to their sound though is that Ghost have lost a lot of what made them unique in the first place. On Infestissimum, half of the band’s appeal was that they sounded so utterly uncategorisable, but surprisingly listenable as well. While there’s still some decent tunes here, songs like Majesty and Absolution are a lot more identifiable as being metal songs with the guitars tuned up and, maybe this is just me but, part of this band’s appeal was always that they were more than just another rock band.
It feels as though their sound has been dumbed down a bit on this album, and it’s especially noticeable when they actually go outside the box with songs like the almost folk-rock He Is and the haunted house synths on closer Deus In Absentia, both of which making the rest of the album sound a bit ordinary by comparison.
If it seems like I'm being a bit negative about this album, let me reassure you that it's still decent enough and there's plenty of stomping riffs and decent tunes to keep you interested. But like I've said before, part of Ghost's appeal was that they didn't sound like just another goth metal band. Meliora may well prove to be a commercial breakthrough for them and good for them if it does. But somehow in going for that feature in Metal Hammer or whatever, it seems as though they've taken away a good chunk of what it was that made them special in the first place.