Released: 2013, Universal Music
Most metal fans have heard of Ghost at this point (Ghost B.C. in the U.S. due to legal issues with the name). 2010’s OPUS EPONYMOUS won critical accolades world-wide and made the list of impressive recent discoveries for a few Metal Rules staffers and album of the year in lots of metal webzines. Considering the shroud of mystery cloaking the band’s identities (proving KISS was on to something back in the day), and the hilariously over the top Satanic/occult image and lyrics, the band already have enough elements to pique peoples’ interests. On top of all that, the music and song craft on OPUS was quite accomplished. Even the new album became embroiled in controversy leading up to INFESTISSUMAM’s release being delayed (several manufacturers refused to release some of the supposedly disturbing artwork depicting an orgy). Others have pointed out the obvious parody of the album cover to the movie poster for the 1984 film AMADEUS. Everything adds up to what has been one of the most widely anticipated metal albums in recent memory.
The second album was picked up by heavy weight label Universal, who reportedly threw financial largesse into the band and album, with some citing figures approaching the million dollar range. Considering the hype and the big label contract, there is every reason to suspect that the album could not possibly live up to expectations. I think the answer to that question will ultimately depend on each fan. For starters, INFESTISSUMAM is exactly the album that somebody wanted to make. Whether it is the label or the band is anybody’s guess. Strip away the mystery, the ghoulish, macabre lyrics and the imagery, and you have the distilled essence of what Ghost was and still is; a hard rock band. Despite this fact, OPUS EPONYMOUS married a sense of discomfort and danger in many of the songs coupled with the melodic pop. On INFESTISSUMAM, Ghost proves that actually they can be quite tame. “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen” is a shining example of the tremendous 70s rock influence on the band with even some surf guitar tones. “Jigolo Har Meggido” is a downright happy song musically; bouncy and full of cheer save for the lyrics. It is definitely a cool tune, but not a heavy one.
Lots of people have compared Ghost to Mercyful Fate and Blue Oyster Cult, but they definitely lean more towards the latter on INFESTISSUMAM. The lyrics are much more Satanic, and certainly there are cool driving riffs and heavier tunes, like “Year Zero” or “Per Aspera Ad Inferi”, which hearken back to “Elizabetha” on OPUS. Overwhelmingly though, it is the softer more melodic songs that populate INFESTISSUMAM. The album sounds fantastic though, a well-produced album, with Papa Emeritus’II vocals fairly high in the mix. The first single, “Secular Haze” contains all of the elements that represent the new album; clownish organs, droning guitars, and Papa’s unique vocals.
Closing the album is “Monstrance Clock”, another sinister but light tune, dominated by a keyboard/organ riff and an infectious chorus that plants itself in the brain and will have you singing about Lucifer’s son in no time. In sum, Ghost keeps it pretty safe, not straying far from the formula established on OPUS, while incorporating more blatantly melodic pop, sometimes at the expense of that original sense of foreboding and freshness happening on OPUS. Perhaps the initial shine has worn off a bit, Ghost unable to sneak up on an unsuspecting public this time. I happen to really dig INFESTISSUMAM, but I cannot help but feel that somehow along the way we now have a much safer Ghost, despite the more overt lyrical pledges by the band to the contrary.