It took me a while before I checked out Ghost. Whether it was because of the name complications (they had to go by Ghost BC for a while because there are other acts named Ghost), or whether the costumed, anonymous musicians (all called Nameless Ghoul) fronted by a zombie pope singer (newcomer Papa Emeritus III although there is a lot of speculation that all three incarnations are actually the same guy) conjured images of growling death metal, I don’t know. But I gave their 3rd album “Meliora” a spin, and I’m so glad I did.
Ghost’s music is a peculiar hybrid of Sabbath-like metal, and progressive rock (without the complexity). Hints of film music creep in at times, as well as an undeniable influence from the sounds of 80’s rock (Even pop. Admit it: the chorus to “Absolution” sounds like Duran Duran!). But their music finds a comfortable place in the middle of these different influences, and carves a unique sound that’s never terribly heavy, never really prog, but always a lot of fun.
The songwriting on this album is much stronger than it was on their first two albums, and the production is improved too, although they still sound a little thin. There’s a great sense of melody throughout the songs, especially on “From the Pinnacle to the Pit”, “Mummy Dust” and “Absolution”.
They’ve also toned down the Satanic lyrics even though their whole image still sends up the Catholic church. Still, they’re not singing about flowers and birds. Ghost is a peculiar hybrid of genres, but in an industry that’s obsessed with labeling every act in a tiny sub-genre box, they’re a breath of fresh air. Trying to put a label on what they do is an exercise in futility. Just crank it up and enjoy it.
He's also a regular contributor at the very rad site Montreal Rampage