Sweden’s Ghost is back with their highly anticipated 3rd album, Meliora. Steeped in subversive themes of humanism, counterculture and anti-establishmentarianism, the album was produced by Klas Ahlund, mixed by Andy Wallace, and is their heaviest and most melodic project to date. Lead singer Papa Emeritus II has been ‘let go’ and will be replaced by the younger, more powerful Papa Emeritus III, who expertly leads his Ghouls through 10 scorching tracks, including ‘Cirice’, which means church in Old English and is an ode to institutions inventing the problem so that they can offer the solution.
Time really flies when you’re having fun nowadays. Since Ghost’s debut Opus Eponymous released back in 2011 – the band has now produced a total of FOUR albums in about four years. Their last releases consisted of 2013’s Infestissumam and If You Have Ghosts… EP. With the subsequent sacking of both Papa Emeritus’ the clergy had to regroup and find a new replacement. Enter: Papa Emeritus III, the 3-month younger brother of Papa Emeritus II. It seemed the band needed a more “youthful” point man, so the more “down with the times” Papa would now have to do.
As I mentioned before, the band has now released its fourth album entitled: Meliora, which is actually Latin for “better.” The band does not dwell on the past and continues forward. The “new” line-up premiered this summer overseas and saw them hit many festivals and a few smaller club shows. They have now released, in various formats and through different avenues, at least 3 singles in a very short amount of time. The leadoff single from Meliora is Cirice. From my perspective it’s a seductive song about a higher power seducing a beautiful woman. The track really lays down the doom and gloom before hitting those driving chords quite nicely and showcasing Papa III’s epic vocals. I’ve been saying it since the first album: they may have an awesome gimmick but the band is technically accomplished and Papa, no matter the roman numeral, can freakin’ sing! The newer singles are Majesty and Absolution and they really rock!
Singles aside – after I spun my digital and vinyl copies of Meliora I noticed, contrary to popular opinion, and other reviews of the album, that it’s really not their heaviest album per se, and I’ll explain. Opus Eponymous had the themes of a dark and satanic power brewing and coming to Earth. It was about a prophecy that was in full swing. Infestissumam let you know that the dark power was here and If You Have Ghosts… does not count, because it’s a covers album and does not adhere to the band’s established mythology. Now with Meliora – the darkness and power have now been here for a while and everyone on the planet have now meshed with it and abide by the new rules set forth by this darkness. Just by looking at the cover art and insert artwork you get this really cool Metropolis vibe. It’s very “sci-fi-tanic?” The world is not in a perpetual wasteland. There’s a sleekness and futuristic overtone to the new concept. The songs can exist independently of themselves within this world. I dug that concept. The artwork and illustrations included are absolutely gorgeous, too.
I try not to read reviews before I publish my own but I couldn’t help myself with this release. Some of the reviews mentioned that Meliora was the band’s “heaviest” album to date but I’m going to have to totally disagree on that. If anything: Mummy Dust would be the heaviest track on Meliora. It does pummel the listener but that’s where the pummeling stops. The majority of the album showcases the musicianship, writing, and epic vocals. Yes, it does keep the sense of doom in place and adds a hint of romanticism to the whole affair. My two absolute favorite tracks on the album are He Is and Deus In Absentia. Structurally, lyrically, and musically, these tracks are CLASSIC and I do hope that they can be fit into future live shows.
In closing I should also point out that if you were to give Ghost a chance then Meliora would be the band’s most accessible record. It’s a bit more abstract and it drops the mention of Satan directly in certain spots for a more abstract composite like: “he” or “him” and that sort of thing. It’s less blunt than the previous albums in mentioning you know who. It doesn’t bother me in the least and it shouldn’t bother you either. Meliora is a top-shelf album and one of the best albums of the year. I have no doubt that when I compile my Top-5 music list at the end of the year that this album will be a contender for the top spot.
|2. From The Pinnacle To The Pit|
|5. He Is|
|6. Mummy Dust|
|8. Devil Church|
|10. Deus In Absentia|