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Ghost - Meliora (Album Review)

Thursday, 20 August 2015 Written by Alec Chillingworth

“It made you want to kick down walls and ascend the sky on steps of fire. It made you want to pull all the switches and throw all the levers and stick your fingers in the electric socket of the Universe to see what happened next. It made you want to paint your bedroom wall black and cover it with posters."

That's from Sir Terry Pratchett's Soul Music. He was describing Music With Rocks In, but he could have been talking about Ghost. Much like the denizens of Ankh-Morpork, Planet Earth has fallen under the spell of an evil music. A force.

'Meliora' is Ghost's third full-length and the satanic Swedes are on unstoppable form. The production is crisper than Gary Lineker making a snow angel in Lapland, the tunes are taut and the range of musical merriment on offer boggles the mind. Prepare your body, because you're not ready for this.

The '70s touches are ever-present. From The Pinnacle To The Pit's ethereal chorus and underlying hammer-on riff sounds as Emerson, Lake & Palmer might if they decided to dig up some bodies and interfere with them, while Majesty's pummelling guitars harmonise with rabid keyboards, bringing to mind Deep Purple and a dash of Iron Maiden – pumped full of methamphetamine.

Mummy Dust's absurd lyrics juxtapose with the haunting piano and vicious chugging, adding splashes of Cradle Of Filth organ to what is, on the surface, a militaristic thrash number in the throes of death. Neither the blatant hero worship of 'Opus Eponymous' nor the overblown icing on the invisible cake that was 'Infestissumam' rear their heads here. The way in which Absolution switches from bass-heavy dirge to fist-pumping anthem is something the band couldn't have pulled off a few years ago.

If Spirit had been on 'Infestissumam' it would have been consumed by orchestration, but riffs and monumental choruses take priority this time. The choirs and cheesy, schlocky elements make appearances but never becoming stale or overpowering.

Papa Emeritus' vocals seem more real. More convincing. The “Wooooah-OOOOOOAH!” towards Cirice's climax is a certified spine-tingler and, over the course of 'Meliora', Papa proves he's not just Skeletor going through an identity crisis but a genuine mouthpiece for the band, dripping with emotion and feeling.

Up until this point, the hype hasn't been completely justified. The celebrity fans, the high profile festival slots and lucrative album deals have failed to produce something worthy of such fanfare. That ends with 'Meliora'. Ghost have taken the glistening rock of yesteryear and sexed it up. This is the most cohesive, inspiring and god damn catchy album Papa and his Ghouls have released to date. Shit just got real.

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