Release Date: June 1st 2018
Cardinal Copia | vocals
A Nameless Ghoul | bass
A Nameless Ghoul | drums
A Nameless Ghoul | lead guitar
A Nameless Ghoul | guitar
A Nameless Ghoul | guitar / backing vocals
A Nameless Ghoul | keyboard / backing vocals
A Nameless Ghoul | keyboard / percussion
4. See The Light
6. Dance Macabre
7. Pro Memoria
8. Witch Image
10. Life Eternal
Tobias Forge returns from the studio with his new offering from his solo project GHOST. The latest 10 track album titled PREQUELLE released by Spinefarm / Loma Vista takes old and new fans down a new path for the project. A controversial release amongst fans of the band as the singer performs with his new backing band of session musicians including Ludvig Kennberg on drums following legal disputes with the original members. Tobias has explained in interviews following up to the release that this latest offering will be about the plague but in a more up-lifting and positive setting rather than the typical black metal approach.
The album opens with an instrumental track Ashes which features the well known nursery rhyme “Ring a Ring o’ Roses” sung by a group of children. In olden times, a rosy rash was a symptom of the plague and posies of herbs were carried as protection to ward off the smell of the disease. Sneezing or coughing was the final fatal symptom, and “all fall down” was exactly what happened.
A few open chords later and the keyboards are introduced playing a riff from Spokesonat from the Meliora album.
The opening song is Rats which was the first single released so far from Ghost. The track is an 80’s inspired song full of hooks and lyrics fuelling the plague that is to come as the album progresses.
Faith is the heaviest song on the album with chugging riffs from the beginning and a fast solo early in the track, make it stand out as something that would have fitted in well as a Meliora bonus track. It has been said in previous interviews with Tobias, that each album is carefully planned in advance so this release was written around the same time as Meliora. Faith stands out as what some could describe as a typical Ghost sounding track in comparison to the rest of the album which is to follow.
See The Light begins with a piano intro and vocals with maraca percussion lightly in the background. The spoken beginning introduces Cardinal Copia singing “Many a rat I’ve befriended and so many a thorn stood between. . but of all of the demons I’ve known, no one could compare to you.”
The song then progresses to the chorus, “Everyday that you feed me with hate, I grow stronger”.
Upon the first couple of listens we could hear the plague reference in See The Light but also wondered if there was more behind the lyrics to this track, such as personal misgivings regarding the old band. The track is mainly vocal and the Cardinal repeats the lyrics. There is a synth solo to add to the 80’s vibe and regarding the guitars they only feature to add a heavy American breakdown chug for the chorus.
Miasma is another instrumental track which lets the rest of the session musicians play a heavy prog rock piece. It reminded us of the support band from Ghost’s Popestar tour called Zombi. The track is just over 5 minutes of synth and guitar riff progression in the style of Uriah Heep and a lot of emphasis on the keyboard playing.
Dance Macabre is an 80’s song about Cardinal Copia wanting to bewitch his lover and fans will be surprised to hear that it isn’t the only love song on the album. The track is open to criticism as it doesn’t sound like any Ghost song before and could fit in as something from bands like Blondie with the similar vibrating guitar tone in the verse. The keyboard is very Van Halen sounding which also adds to the vision of where the project is going, with ambitious growth plans to tour arenas and become a massive arena band. A fun and different track where Blondie sings Alice Cooper style lyrics.
Pro Memoria was first previewed in an unveiling video released by Ghost showing the previous Papa’s dead in their coffins and later getting prepared to go on tour for VIP fans to meet.
The track has a vocal beginning and piano which follows the track narrative as the rest of the musicians join in with heavy power chords. Cardinal Copia sings the chorus, “Don’t you forget about dying, don’t you forget about your friend, don’t you forget that you die.”
A memorable moment in the track was guitar solo which is a simple harmonized progression which leads to a build up from the piano and chorus with added female backing vocals. The violins towards the end of the song make it more cinematic and theatre like as the female vocals chant, bringing it to a close.
Witch Image is another song which sounds nothing like a Ghost track from before. It has a lot going on lyrically and musically there is a lot of experimentation and transition from heavy to clean tones. The chorus goes along the lines of “While you sleep in earthly delight, someone’s flesh is rotting tonight. Like no other to you, what you’ve done you cannot undo.”
The track features another harmonized guitar solo which reminded us of guitar work in The Devil’s Blood track “The Anti-Kosmik Magick”. The main guitar riff is very catchy and Alice Cooper-esque.
Helvetesfonster is the final instrumental track on the album which lasts nearly 6 minutes. The track sounds like it could be part of the soundtrack to Rosemary’s Baby with a haunting old synth and backing piano. The musical piece adds a theatrical layer to the album with its prog referencing and added electric guitar chords to compliment the piano playing. As the track progresses the playing gets heavier and more experimental as it is full of tempo changes and synth solos. The track ends with the ringing of bells for the final track which is to follow.
“Can you hear me say your name forever, can you see me longing for you forever, would you let me touch your soul forever, can you feel me longing for you forever, forever.”
Life Eternal opens with piano and Cardinal Copia singing isolated, as we have heard in previous tracks on the album with a similar opening. The lyrics repeat over and over in this track with a mixed male and female choir singing “FOREVER” until the end. Cardinal Copia closes the album with the words, “If you had Life Eternal”. Perhaps not the strongest of album closings as fans have heard in the past and hard to top Infestisumam’s “Monstrance Clock” used at the end of every show.
GHOST Prequelle is out on June 1st through Spinefarm Records. I think that fans will enjoy picking up this album and attending the bands upcoming shows.
Reviewed by: David Bell