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Ghost – Meliora Review

ghost-meliora-cover

Released by: Loma Vista Recordings

Release Date: August 21st, 2015

Genre: Metal

Links: http://ghost-official.com

 

Tracklist:

1. Spirit
2. From the Pinnacle to the Pit
3. Cirice
4. Spoksonat
5. He Is
6. Mummy Dust
7. Majesty MP3
8. Devil Church
9. Absolution
10. Deus in Absentia

 

As a long time follower of the band since their 2010 demo, I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of Meliora for reviewing earlier this week.  I can say that it has lived up to the hype factor that constantly follows them.  I put on the CD for my first listen and here are my thoughts as I took notes track by track.

Spirit

This track begins with a Deep Purple style hammond organ and a therimen being overlayed!  It reminded me of an old 1950s Sci-Fi film opening like The Day The Earth Stood Still.  The guitars and drums begin building up the tension with a repetitive rhythm before jumping into the main verse riff.  At this point I thought of King Diamond even though the band has been increasingly compared to them by other critics, I thought the riff and drumming had that nice 80s thrash feel.  The guitars and drums play perfectly in sync in a jolting but simple arrangement, which suits Papas vocals best.  Papa opens the album with a hauntingly sung line, “Throw yourself into the vessel of possibilities”.

As the chorus, “Spirit, Absent” begins, the fans will hear a familiar sounding keyboard effect that sounds like a choir.  It reminded me of the ending structure of Year Zero as it faded out, there was a similar tone.

The music flows back into the second verse, where the track becomes more of a journey into the new Ghost sound.  It is futuristic; more guitars driven with have a touch of classic progressive influences.  The rest of the track really opens up the listener to all that lies ahead in terms of how far the band have come as musicians and they are inviting fans to join them on this journey just by listening.  The guitars play a dual solo along with the keyboard, which is more technical and lasts a much longer length of time than heard previously.

The track has become more progressive. by the advanced structures and chord timings.  I thought of classic bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow and Emerson, Lake and Palmer when hearing the instrumental sections as they are very neoclassical but with a rock feel.  The guitars, keyboard and bass each get their own solo section and shine their dark light onto the track.

It closes with Papa singing and holding the last note of, “This vision of my spirit”.  The guitars and drums fade out the track.

From The Pinnacle To The Pit

The track begins with the bass guitar setting up the main the riff for the song.  It’s nice and heavy. .  There is a brief lead riff which re-occurs adding a more guitar driven sound over the hypnotising bass line.  The drumming on this track is particularly remarkable as some fans have noticed a change in the Ghoul behind the kit since their live shows in Sweden for unveiling Papa III on June 3, 2015.  The drummer gets to make his mark here and sign his life over for eternity with some heavy fills with a harder playing style than we’ve heard before.

We are met with a tapping section which is executed cleanly with a delay effect by the lead guitar Ghoul.  Papa rejoices, “You are cast out from the heavens to the ground.  Blackened feathers falling down, you will wear your independence like a crown”.  Perhaps referring to humanity without a god, therefore gaining their own independence and free will.

There is a quick solo in this track but the bass Ghoul again, keeps up with the tempo by leading the backing riffs.  As the solo ends, the band go straight back into the final section of the verse.

At almost the 3 minute mark, the song comes to a standstill, where the band ceases playing apart from the drummer and lead guitar.  The lead Ghoul plays the delayed tapping riff for the second time while the drummer thumps a clap along beat that will go down great live.  The rest of the band join in and Papa sings his final chorus.

Ghost-20
© David Turcotte

Cirice

This is a very interesting composition from the band, that really highlights their song writing capabilities.  It was the first single released as a preview of what was in store to fans.  The beginning is again, very cinematic and draws the listeners into their web of what is about to happen.  When the main verse kicks in, I thought of Sad But True by Metallica with the drum structure.  The hooks are strong in this one and there are plenty of sing along moments.

The guitar solo is very smooth and both guitarists get their own lead part to show off.  What surprised me at first listen was the keyboard player adding a solo at the end.

Spoksonet

This is the first instrumental of the album, which features a classical sounding acoustic guitar being plucked as the keyboards create an eerie background presence.  It sets up transcendence for He Is which is to follow.  Spoksonet reminded me of the outro from Genesis the last track on the band’s debut album Opus Eponymous.  It creates a nice follow for the album to progress deeper into the spiritual voyage.

He Is

This track begins with acoustic guitars playing a scale gently until Papa comes in with, “We’re standing here by the abyss and the world is in flames, two starcrossed lovers reaching out to the beast with many names”.  The keyboard builds up the story as it holds notes with a very spectacular cinematic effect.  Papas voice then transcends into a multilayered doubled up vocals that come across as more powerful.  I got a wintery feel from the track as it’s very isolated as if no one else is left on earth until the rest of the band kick in.

By this point it’s also very clear to worshippers of the band, that he is Satan.  The band does this with style. Satan is shown as majestic and truly glorified by Papas words, “The guidance of the morning star, will lead the way into the void”.  However, as Satan is only referenced, listeners don’t have to take it as that, if they don’t want to.  There is an open portal where one can choose whether to jump in or imagine the lyrics are about someone or something else.  The track is very aesthetically pleasing in breaking up the heavy songs from the lighter tracks but still maintaining the listeners attention.

There is a David Gilmour styled electric guitar outro with a nice spacious tone that plays over the acoustic guitar and accompanying band.  As the distortion fades out, it sets the silence for the bomb that is about to be dropped in Mummy Dust.

Mummy Dust

I have a few ideas of what it’s trying to reference but overall a very strong track and one that will get all the fans headbanging live.

It begins with a military style drum beat and the guitars building up the tension.  When they break, the music goes into this really cool 80s thrash metal chugging riff, something like you would hear on an early Megadeth record.  For me it was the lyrics that set this song apart from the rest.  When Papa makes his entrance his voice is filtered in an older sounding speaker effect.  He begins with, “I was carried on a wolfs back to corrupt humanity”.  It’s a great statement, but it gets even better or should I say “Meliora”.

“In God you trust, my Mummy Dust!” – This line is repeated as the chorus and throughout the track.  From what I gathered Papa sings, “I’ll murder you in trenches, just to feed your incapacity”.  The song is clearly about the corruption of humanity.  On a political perspective people are murdered in trenches and sent out to war with these false beliefs that there is a god watching over them.  When they are lying dead in the ground, who is there to save them?  The military styled snare added to this idea that they track could be referencing war.  However I could be completely wrong.

The track features a keyboard solo with pitch shifter and I like how they have taken a lot of different sounds and combined them.  The ending makes perfect room for the live setting that I know will go down well with fans.  The chorus is repeated over and over with a backing choir.

© David Turcotte
© David Turcotte

Majesty                                                                                                                                 

It’s got that arena crowd anthem sound where you can imagine this huge show taking place.  The opening rhythm guitar reminded me of a Tony Iommi styled riff while the verse has a Holy Diver galloping feel to it that is very 80s sounding.  Papas vocals are entrancing as they double up in sections as he sings, “Old one, master!  All beauty lies within”. This is a guitar driven track with a lot of focus on the riffing between the Ghouls, particularly in the longer solo that features both guitarists playing lead parts.

Devil Church

This track features an isolated repetitive organ at the beginning playing a series of notes.  It is similar to how an organ player at a funeral will sit down and play over a scale to fill the gap between the mourners taking their seats and preparing for the mass.

The organ is then accompanied by the full band that plays another prog influenced section that reminded me of King Crimson.  It’s got that retro feel to it through the music but at the same time the production quality makes it sound modern.

Absolution

This is another one of the heavier tracks on the album.  The main riff is pounding with a shuffling style drum beat that reminded me of Stand By Him.  The keyboard has great emphasis in striking quick chords over the guitar riff of the verse and then making the melody of the chorus more dominant.  Papas vocals are strong ranging through diverse vocal patterns of highs and lows.

The main riff also reminded me of Witches Dance by Mercyful Fate but with the added Ghost touch.  It sounds like one of the more challenging riffs to play out of the other tracks on Meliora. There is experimentation of various new techniques and song writing structures throughout.

One great factor was the keyboard playing, where at the 3 minute mark it controls the track.  A bridge happens where the piano is playing backing chords and what sounds like a Moog synth playing arpeggio scales over the top.  It begins to sound like The Who and It really sets the track apart from the rest, in terms of heaviness and diversity.

© David Turcotte
© David Turcotte

Deus in Absentia

This track reminded me of a cross between House of Fun by Madness and Look at Yourself by Uriah Heep.  It begins with the sound of a clock ticking which could be paying homage to Monstrance Clock, the final track on Infestissumam.  It features sharp keyboard chords being struck in time with the clock, like a metronome.  Papa’s voice is doubled, where he sings over the keyboard with a echo effect.  One voice sings in a higher tone and the other, octaves lower.  It flows very nicely and then the full band kicks in with the chorus, “The world is on fire and you are here to stay and burn with me.  A funeral pyre and we are here to revel forevermore.” 

This is a powerful track with lots of changes in the structure and tone which is very different to what fans have heard previously.  It has a progressive feel where a simple riff is repeated in harmony over the bass line while the keyboard creates a nice space-like atmosphere.  The guitars then close the bridge to the sound of the clock ticking again.

The track then fades out into a mixed male and female choir singing a hymn.  It is much more haunting than the “Come Together..” verse at the end of Monstrance Clock.  It reminded me of The Omen soundtrack as the distorted voices blend together in reverb with a hall like effect where you can imagine that this is inside a church.

 

Written by David Bell

Ratings    David   10/10

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