Genre: Heavy Metal/Gothic Rock
Let’s begin with the changes that we witness to the band shortly before “Meliora’s” official release. Firstly, Ghost, fulfilling its commitment, has for the third time in three records a different singer, Papa Emeritus III. For those who loved the last two of them, however, we bring some good news, for the vocals sound exactly the same (seems as if the same person is singing.!.!.!). Moreover, Papa as well as the Nameless Ghouls have changed their appearance, with the first bearing a new corpsepaint design and the others new masks.
The album’s cover is a painting by Polish artist Zbigniew Bielak, who had also worked on the cover of Infestissumam”. It demonstrates a gigantic, gothic temple, in the middle of a metropolis of the same design, a temple dedicated to Papa Emeritus III, whom it resembles twice (if I’m not missing some hidden image) and, in addition to Ghost itself. The title of the album can be translated to ‘for the pursuit of something better”.
So, Ghost, are pursuing with their new album -well, and who doesn’t after all- to release their best album to date. And, imo, that’s just what the band delivers. “Meliora” has minimized the ills one could find in “Infestissumam”. Which were those? The lack of emphasis on the guitar sound in the mix and the imbalance among the song’s quality. The album kicks off immediately with “Spirit”, no room for the “Per Aspera Ad Inferi” type of mistake here. In the upcoming album the sound is well-balanced and heavier than its predecessor, which flirted with pop/rock at some parts, while the songwriting level remains steadily high throughout the entire album. There is, also, a fair amount of heavy riffing, something missing from Ghost’s previous record.
All the things you either loved or hated on Ghost are evident in “Meliora”. For one, we have Papa’s unique vocals, which together with his leading role on stage and not only, make him the cornerstone of Ghost’s success. However, one would expect to hear more “catchy” refrains as, with the exception of “Absolution” and “He Is”, no other song did manage to reach the standards of instant effectiveness that “Monstrance Clock” and “Year Zero” had on the listener. We already said a few words regarding the guitars, still we need to point out the outstanding work at the lead ones, both on harmonies and solos. The keys, in times having a plain piano sound, in others organ or retro 70’s, but always performing well-crafted solos, play an essential part in the building of the album’s mystical atmosphere. The performance on the, always minimalistic, drum set and on the bass is unadorned and spotless – I believe that the worth of the band’s rhythm section has been constantly overlooked. Generally, the band’s technical skills have been overshadowed by the emphasis given on the theatrical aspects and the non-stop commercial tricks, as well as the constant catfight among metal fans over the band’s authenticity.
“Meliora’s” songs can be divided in two basic categories, in my ears. The first contains songs, which are based on riffs and vivid tempo and are put together in order to liven up their live performances (Spirit, Cirice, Absolution, Majesty, From the Pinnacle to the Pit). The second composes of more occult, atmospheric songs (He Is, Mommy Dust, Deus In Absentia), including here the two one-minute-long interludes as well (Spöksonat, Devil Church).
Ending, I’d like to write a few words about the lyrics, which seem to me to be some kind of hindrance for the band’s evolution. This incessant devil praise serves well the band’s concept, still, I don’t see why this should be non-negotiable. A bleak story, for instance, let’s say in the pattern of “Abigail” (without any hints of comparison here) would offer far more gravitas I believe.
In conclusion, after its debut, where the band was still in search of its own personality and the more personal, but uneven “Infestissumam”, Ghost has released its most solid album. It will most certainly be franchised and promoted a lot, it will be loved and hated. At the end one thing is certain, that this album will be a huge success.