Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ghost - Opus Eponymous

These days you gotta have a gimmick. And Ghost, a new band from Sweden, has a lot of them. They wear robes, pope hats and face paint (even the drummer when they play live). Their lyrics are Satanic but sound like they picked up most of their occult knowledge from King Diamond interviews. There are rumors that under the costumes there are well known musicians from other metal bands. They’ve also received negative attention because there’s already a long-running Japanese band with the same band name. All of this has resulted in strong opinions in the metal world about this band. Some say it’s all hype, others say Ghost are the best new band in years. Like most cases where opinions are so polarized there’s a bit of truth on both sides.

Whoever is in the band or not, Ghost’s debut album Opus Eponymous is a nice change of pace in the heavy music world. Most underground bands are either working the doom Black Sabbath angle or are part of the speed/thrash/grind brigade. Ghost’s sound is about 60% Blue Oyster Cult (especially Agents Of Fortune), 20% Mercyful Fate and 20% other ingredients (mainly 70’s Priest/Scorps/UFO and Angelwitch).

The funeral organ instrumental “Deus Culpa” starts the album off on a somber tone before being taken over by the fast “Con Clavi Con Dio.” The verses are fast and sinister but the chorus is very melodic and would probably get some commercial radio play if it wasn’t praising Lucifer. The single “Ritual” really sounds like if BOC time traveled from 1976 to 1984 to steal some riffs from Mercyful Fate’s “A Dangerous Meeting” to use in “Don’t Fear The Reaper.”

“Elizabeth” is full on Mercyful Fate “Melissa” worship, down to the Herman Rarebell/Les Binks metal oompah beat. The vocalist (no names credited in the liner notes) bears a resemblance to Buck Dharma and occasionally drifts into Queen Rhinestone territory but doesn’t resort to screeching for vengeance. The presence of keyboards add some nice texture and are rarely overbearing. The guitars sound like they might even be in standard tuning and have crunch but not full on metal distortion. “Stand By Him” is another strongly BOC influenced moody song with a Thin Lizzy-ish guitar solo (“Thunder and Lighning?”) in the middle.

“Prime Mover” has some nice bass fills and good Stained Class style chugga-chugga riffs. Album closing “Genesis” brings the keyboards to the front and sounds more like The Alan Parsons Project than Genesis and has an acoustic guitar interlude. Back in the 70’s rock radio stations used to love songs like these as background music while reading the local concert calendar. Get your local paper and try it out yourself.

Despite the hype I really like this album. The Satanic lyrics and costumes are a little corny but the music is solid.


Buy here: Opus Eponymous


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