Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ghost - Prequelle (2018)

It has certainly been a bunch of eventful years for Ghost since their last full length release. Besides releasing an EP (which contained the magnificent track "Square Hammer") and a live album, the mask behind the band was finally pulled off after several former members took the leader, Tobias Forge, to court for not getting enough compensation for playing. This probably would have hurt the reputation of any band out there, but the shining star of Ghost is as high as ever, with the band now seen as the future main act for arenas alla across the globe, so the legal mumbo jumbo just seems like a small speed bump for a band that has turned into a monster truck. No, the bigger concern lies instead in the mystery behind the band, because even if most rumours already pointed towards Tobias Forge being the leader of this entity, we still enjoyed the spectacle that the band presented, so would we now see this band with different eyes once that we got confirmation on who was all of the Papa's (and the new front man for this record, Cardinal Copia) up on that stage?

Obviously, it does give you some other perspective on things, but Ghost is still mainly about the image of the band, not necessarily the music. It is a band that lures you in with its albums, but offers the live shows as its main course, so I do not think it will make that much of a difference, because in the end, you will still enjoy the spectacle around it, with each show serving as a satanic mass that is yet another stepping stone towards world domination.

But to get people to the shows, you need good music, and Ghost has certainly delivered so far in their career, and their fourth album "Prequelle" opens up promising. After the small intro "Ashes", we get treated with the lead single "Rats", a classic Ghost tune with great riffing, some brilliant drum beats, and a catchy as hell chorus that will go down really well in a live setting. It is a song that sticks with you instantly from first listen. "Faith" follows it up with what could have been a guest appearance from Yngwie Malmsteen, but much slower. It is still the heaviest track on the record, and it has a very nice flow to it, a flow only the first instrumental track "Miasma" can match, a song that fluently moves to different styles and tempos, even throwing in a sexy saxophone solo at the end.

The first half of "Prequelle" is fantastic, definitely matching what the band has done previously, but it all turns sour once the second single "Dance Macabre" enters. From here on out, the band goes a little too much ABBA, emphasizing the pop aspect of their sound way too much, which will certainly make a lot of trve metal fans cringe. Ghost has shown that they can incorporate pop into their music in a good way before, so the problem is that they become too cheesy for their own good, especially in the lyrics, like being with someone in the moonlight, or how about this horrid chorus line from "Pro Memoria".

Don't you forget about dying
Don't you forget about your friend death
Don't you forget that you will die

It continues on with "Witch Image", which is a nice little tune in it self, not taking too much attention, but enough to be enjoyable. Another instrumental kicks in after that, "Helvetesfönster" (Swedish for "Hell Window"), and I find it to be quite dull, but serviceable for a ending track... if it had been that. Nope, the band crammed in another song after it called "Life Eternal", and it is an okay song with some religious emotion behind it, but why is this the last song of the record? It feels misplaced here, probably would have worked better a little earlier in the album, or maybe just as a bonus track.

I get that Ghost is in this state where their fan base is extremely big, and it consists of almost any type of music fans, from metal lovers to casual radio listeners, so they feel like they have to please everyone, which is why we get an album that is basically schizophrenic. The first half is classic Ghost stuff, great, groovy, and spooky doom rock that you can put on anytime and enjoy the hell out of it. The second half is more for those who enjoyed "He Is" and "Cirice" from "Meliora", in other words, the more poppier side of the band. I am afraid that this album will not really speak to anyone without them finding a part that they will not like, and most fans will probably label "Prequelle" as the worst Ghost album thus far, which only confirms how damn good those first three albums are. However, it is not likely that it will affect the popularity of the band negatively, their place as the metal juggernauts of the 2010's is still secure, and will be so for some time to come.

Songs worthy of recognition: Faith, Rats, Miasma

Rating: 7/10 Helvetesfönster


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