Released: 2015, Loma Vista Recordings
Like most hugely popular bands, Ghost has become a machine, a complex organization that is unlikely to put out a turd. That being said, I found INFESTISSUMAM mildly disappointing. I was a creatively experimental direction that sometimes lost focus, but still led to a mostly positive result. MELIORA still indulges in some artistic exploration, but it is more direct and catchy than its predecessor, closer in feel to OPUS EPONYMOUS. Biggest change, if you choose to believe the tales peddled by the band, is in new singer Papa Emeritus III, brother of Papa Emeritus II. Not surprisingly, he sounds exactly like the previous two Papas.
The first three tracks are simply fantastic, leading with “Spirit” and finishing with the first single from the album, “Cirice.” It is the middle track that is the album’s apex, “From The Pinnacle To The Pit” ranking amongst the finest in Ghost’s growing catalog. The riff is sinister and the chorus insidiously weaves itself firmly into the brain. The heaviest track – heavy being relative here – is probably “Mummy Dust” with a chugging verse riff and low, almost whispered vocals.
Interwoven through most of the album are numerous guitar lines and melodies that confirm why so many people compare Ghost to Blue Öyster Cult. You can also hear unmistakable nods to Deep Purple during the opening of “Majesty”, which is another strong song that helps prop up the back end of the album. The weakest track, probably the only weak track, unless you want to include the two short instrumentals has to be “He Is.” I am sure there are probably throngs that like it, but it sounds like filler to me.
I question though if this is actually metal. Ghost gets a pass because of their image and lyrical themes. I enjoy the band as much as the next person, but if Ghost removed their masks and robe while singing about astronomy and Ayn Rand no one would call them metal, even if the music was the same. MELIORA is a great album though and quite enjoyable. Fans of the band (and they are legion) are going to love the album, but I doubt MELIORA will change Kerry King’s mind about the band.