Ghost
Opus Eponymous

Satan has risen – and he’s got a Hell of an ear for melody.

The mysterious Ghost come from Sweden, but not much else is known about them aside from a few promo shots, which feature shadowy figures led by a skull-masked Satanic priest. Rumor has it that this is actually a side project from members of Watain and Repugnant (and, depending on who you believe, Fenriz on drums), but the music is nothing like those bands. Instead, we’re treated to a groovy, retro blend of ‘70s heavy psychedelic rock, NWOBHM and organ-drenched doom. Think Blue Öyster Cult, Mercyful Fate and Black Sabbath, but all done up with a catchy, cheeky pop sensibility and paired with cult Satanic lyrics.

If that sounds like a gimmick, well yeah, it is, but it’s also really freakin’ cool. First off, that cover art is just badass. If I were a teenager in the late ‘70s, that would be hanging right above my bed, along with some Star Wars, Master of Reality and blacklight posters. And I’d have “Ritual” – the most addictive thing I’ve heard all year – blaring over and over (on vinyl of course). Just wait until you hear Ghost’s honey-throated frontman crooning the chorus: “This chapel of ritual smells of dead human sacrifices from the altar.” You can’t help but laugh – and then you’ll play it over and over again as well.

Ghost isn’t all pop, of course – they’ve got just enough ballsy swagger and doom atmosphere to offset those syrupy choruses. Plus there’s not a single growl or shriek on the entire thing, proving that you don’t have to be extreme to be evil. (I say that with a wink; this is about as scary as a Hammer horror film festival). “Con Clavi Con Dio” kicks off with lurid keyboards and a lurching, downtuned guitar before the vocals spiral into a cellar-ritual chant. “Satan Prayer” wraps slithery melodies, a tell-tale-heartbeat bassline and eerie organs around its blasphemous refrain. And “Death Knell’s” creeping, minimalist doom leads into a soaring chorus, like Candlemass murdering The Beach Boys in some lonely California inlet.

“Ritual” is still the best track on here – the perfect blend of hooks, attitude and smirking glee – while others like witch-anthem “Stand By Him” or King Diamond-lite “Elizabeth” trade a little too much of their menace for mirth. However, Opus Eponymous is still all very listenable and entertaining, which is why I instantly put it on my top ten for 2010.

The kvlt among you may already be vomiting into your pewter D&D skull goblets, but anyone else with an appreciation for high-concept ear-candy should dig this like an exhumed corpse. No matter who these guys really are, it’s clear they have a love for cult-trash nostalgia, fog-shrouded showmanship and just great, catchy songwriting. Can’t wait to see them live if they ever tour, and can’t wait for their next collection of sinister, sugary Satanic hymns. Hail Ghost! Ghost lives!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
January 11th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: appollyonx

    this album has become a minor obsession for me.i really, really enjoy it. Very good review.


  2. Commented by: mccumberv

    Excellent album, been listening to it non-stop for the last month in my car, great review!


  3. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    band’s cool.


  4. Commented by: Wayne

    I love this album. Hopefully, they’ll go on the road with Electric Wizard, seeing as they’re label mates.


  5. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    i must be the only one that isnt “getting” this album.


  6. Commented by: Travis
  7. Commented by: Stiffy

    ^ Oh for the love of…


  8. Commented by: gabaghoul

    that was a joke…


  9. Commented by: shaden

    blame the devils blood for starting the newest trend…i’ll stick with my coven lp’s.


  10. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    a friend hooked me up with a copy of this. initially, I was a skosh put off by the less-than-muscular vocals. by wow, this record just kills. it’s got some nice punk rock elements in there with all the Blue Oyster Cult and Pentagram references. I love it. absolutely love it.


  11. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    and also, I’m just amped that someone is dressing like a combination of Arthur Brown and the pope. that’s cool as hell.


  12. Commented by: gabaghoul
  13. Commented by: gabaghoul

    also I didn’t mention it in the review but Ghost’s kitschy Satanic angle reminded me a lot of the Johnny Alucard character in Dracula AD 1972 and its amazing orchestral doom-funk soundtrack.

    check out some samples: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2NZEu0TE5A


  14. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    I was surprised, upon listening to this album, to discover that, while it may be gimmicky, it’s also awesome. This album is brilliant.


  15. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    a fairly early contender for album of the year. we’ll see.


  16. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    Did you guys hear? A little while back Ghost played a festival with Down, and Phil Anselmo was SO impressed by Ghost that he asked them to play “Bury Me In Smoke” with Down…and they did. He renamed it “Bury Me In Ghost.” Troo story. I think it’s cool.


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