Swedish heavy metal/doom band Ghost (who I adamantly refuse to call "Ghost B.C.", vague American "legal reasons" be damned) made quite a splash on the heavy metal scene with the well-received (and confusingly-titled) debut Opus Eponymous in 2010. Between the band's very obvious interest in subversive Christian themes, unexpectedly ostentatious stage presentation, and oddly dedicated insistence on their members' anonymity, it was actually hard not to notice them. A follow up to their well-received debut was inevitable, and hence the release of the excellent Infestissumam in 2013.
The best thing about Infesissumam is that Ghost are clearly upping the ante. While their music is still rooted in that classic heavy/doom metal combination that made their debut so much fun, Infestissumam continues to push their sound into new territory; it's clear that the band is more comfortable taking risks than they were before. Though their music is still far from inaccessible, the haunting back-and-forth of "Ghuleh/ Zombie Queen" and the sudden signature changes on their cover ofABBA's "I'm a Marionette" are definitely further flung from the more straightforward pieces on Opus Eponymous. It's not just relegated to one or two pieces, either; there's a sense of experimentation and engagement that permeates the whole album. And to make things even more confusing, there are even a few places on this album that sound like (I swear) Iron Maiden, which seems both out of place and oddly fitting for Ghost.
What hasn't changed is the band's devotion to the ludicrous (and I mean that in the most reverent way possible) rock opera that acts as their modus operandi. It can be aurally weird to hear such uplifting heavy metal tracks about the Anti-Christ and the Christian Devil, but it actually works very well, especially in listening to their albums back to back, where the development can be heard not just compositionally, but lyrically and thematically as well. The choral aspects definitely get kicked up about twenty-seven notches, with many tracks featuring some kind of eerily haunting vocal backing. ("Year Zero" sounds particularly sinister, but "Infestissumam" and "Monstrance Clock" do give it a run for its money.)
Basically, Ghost did exactly what any band should do with their sophomore album: they kept everything they did well on their debut while making a conscious effort to develop their sound in a meaningful way. Infestissumam doesn't just hold up well in comparison to their debut, it stands alone as a great work of heavy metal music. This is one of the most strangely alluring releases you will hear this year; definitely give it a listen.
Recommended if you like: heavy metal music in general, though particularly Black Sabbath
7.5 / 10
Posted June 9, 2015, 1:15 p.m.
Ghost will release their third album, Meliora, on August 21 on Loma Vista Recordings. The Swedish band, who released Infestissumam in 2013, have also unveiled a new video for the ...
Posted April 21, 2013, 12:21 p.m.
Ghost frontman Masaki Batoh will be releasing an experimental project using electronic pulses under the title Brain Pulse Music Machine on Drag City Records. The album was first planned to ...
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