"Sometimes good music is good music...." these words have adorned hundreds of reviews over the years from yours truly. Does it really matter whether something is "metal"? At some point, some juvenile notion came about that we all must adhere to the strict meaning of a nonexistent code written by a phantom counsel of four people who deems what is cool and what is not. Enter Ghost, which is the subject of so much debate to the point of nausea. Through it all, Tobias Forge has created a legendary band that continues to grow in popularity, some of which caused by the mystique, allure and even disgust.
If you are familiar with the schtick and are a disbeliever, then nothing offered on "Prequelle" will serve to finally sway you into fandom. For fans of the band, Ghost takes its quasi-pop infused doom fringed rock to another level. As the post-"Meloria" funeral laid to rest the iconic Papa Emeritus III, Forge's latest rebirth is through the hysterical transition to the creepy masked Cardinal Copia. If you haven't seen the videos, do check them out...they are as hysterical as they are brilliant.
In Copia, Forge continues the overt assault on organized religion with music that ironically draws in fans of so many different musical genres like a serpent in the Garden of Eden. Ghost is the living embodiment of the tall tales of either bands usurped by the devil to do his bidding for fortune and fame or the fact that the demon comes not as a red raging toned horned beast...but as a "god-fearing" wholesome and cute lamb.
"Rats" - the opening track - was issued some time ago via the "Thriller"-esque video - turns out to be one of the strongest tracks on the album, especially for fans of the metallic edge (the ending riff in the last 15 seconds is divine). Add to that the equally groovy occult doom laden "Faith" - a song with more hooks than a Kardashian closet. Other favorites include the up-charged "Dance Macabre" - a song that sounds gloriously straight out of the 1985 pop rock charts - and "Witch Image" - a song following the long line of others with tongue in cheek puns (a la Powerwolf).
I can do without the two instrumental tracks "Miasma" and "Helvetesfonster," if not for the guest appearance by Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt on acoustic guitar on the latter, and only for the fact that Forge's Cardinal Copia is such the center of attention for Ghost, it renders instrumentals useless. However, I will say the saxophone towards the conclusion of "Miasma" is oddly titillating.
Throughout the album, the prevalent juxtaposition of pop-oriented hooks matched with eerie foreboding lyrics makes "Prequelle" another highly enjoyable gem in the Ghost catalog (check out album favorite "Pro Memoria" and its chorus 'Don't you forget about dying...don't you forget about your friend death...don't you forget that you will die" all wrapped in a hilarious 70's classic rock nod to the Partridge Family).
Once again, Ghost presents an album of kitschy "unmetal" pop rock and once again I gleefully fall into the trap of boasting about the much maligned band (in the metal world). Its as if an irresistible force of evil compels me to adore the macabre like a sheep to slaughter and if hell is where I wind up for enjoying a good beat - assuming there is such a place - then I'm certain the soundtrack will be dazzling while enduring perpetual torture.
Label: Loma Vista Recordings (2018)
4. See the Light
6. Dance macabre
7. Pro Memoria
8. Witch Image
10. Life Eternal
11. Its A Sin (Bonus Track)
12. Avalanche (Bonus Track)