It takes some serious chutzpah to call your album Meliora, but Swedish occult rock act Ghost has the chops to pull it off with style.
Table of Contents
- Detailed Review
- Further Listening
Meliora, the third album by Ghost, takes its name from the Latin adjective for “better”. There’s a reason for this; according to an interview with a Nameless Ghoul by Metal Injection, they weren’t satisfied with how their previous album Infestissumam worked out.
That’s fair enough, but I think Meliora is not a mere improvement on their eponymous debut and Infestissumam. Instead, what happened in the studio was almost a Hegelian synthesis, or perhaps a chemical wedding. They took the heavy vibe from their first album and combined it with the catchy melodies and lyrics of Infestissumam to create an album showcasing both.
So, what does Meliora sound like? You should listen to it and decide for yourself, but the crooning of Papa Emeritus III supported by the instrumental work by the Nameless Ghouls creates a sound that makes Meliora a suitable companion to Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare, the Blue Öyster Cult’s Spectres, and classic Judas Priest albums from the 1970s like Sad Wings of Destiny and Sin After Sin.
Furthermore, Ghost backs off a little from their Satanic Church concept; the lyrics aren’t all Satan all the time (though to be fair, Infestissumam also had departures like the excellent “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen”).
For example, “Spirit” is a paean to the green fairy, absinthe. “Mummy Dust” is just sinister rock ‘n roll that for some reason reminds me of “I’m the Slime” by Frank Zappa. And one of Meliora’s standout tracks, “Absolution”, reads like a direct attack on the American culture of overachievement in service to capital we shove down our children’s throats:
Ever since you were born you've been dying Every day a little more you've been dying Dying to reach the setting sun As a child, with your mind on the horizon Over corpses, to the prize you kept your eyes on Trying to be the chosen one
Never mind the lyrics; “Absolution” deserves attention just for the double keyboards. I can’t think of any other songs that layer piano atop organ, and it really works well here.
If you’re here for the Devil’s sake, however, Ghost doesn’t disappoint. “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” starts off with a fat, dirty, thumping bass reminiscent of Les Claypool and Primus, and is catchy enough to be dangerous to play while driving. “Cirice” is almost a demonic love song, right up there with “N.I.B.” by Black Sabbath, and contains a direct stab at Christianity’s doctrine of original sin. “He Is” is the sort of hymn to Lucifer one might join in singing after a Black Mass. “Majesty” has an intro straight out of classic Deep Purple, and doesn’t let up.
And then there’s “Deus in Absentia”. The lyrics are kinda Satanic, but I’m pretty sure that with the right partner you could dance a tango to this song.
All told, Ghost’s Meliora is an improvement over their previous work in every respect. The production is clean, none of the instruments get lost in the mix, and Papa Emeritus III’s clean, melodic vocals work really well with the lyrics if you aren’t caught up in expectations of how this sort of heavy metal “should” sound.
Not only does Ghost do excellent music, and give great interviews (By Arioch, I want one of those devil masks), but they bring a subtle, sardonic sense of humor to their music videos for “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” and “Cirice”.
“From the Pinnacle to the Pit”
It is a long way down…
I can see through the scars inside you…
Deezer Sessions: Ghost
This video contains live performances of…
- “From The Pinnacle to The Pit”
If you liked Meliora by Ghost, you might also want to check out Part 1 by Phantom’s Divine Comedy. They also obscured the identities of their members, with the vocalist named Phantom and other members named X, Y, and Z.
Their lyrics have a similar esoticism to Ghost’s, but without the Satanism, and they didn’t get nearly as much attention as the Blue Öyster Cult even though some people have reputedly mistaken the vocalist for Jim Morrison of The Doors. Standout tracks include “Merlin” and “Welcome to Hell”.