When Ghost first materialized on the scene in 2010 with their debut album Opus Eponymous, they made quite an impression. First there was the image: five "nameless ghouls" performing the music in hooded robes (now silver, horned masks) and vocalist Papa Emeritus, dressed as a sort of anti-pope with a penchant for fog machines and blacklight paint.
These aspects of the band, Long with the satanic imagery in their lyrics, worked. Others, like the electing of a new "Papa" with each release, is just plain silly. It would be more interesting if each singer was a different person, but each Papa has, in fact, been the exact same vocalist (spoiler alert).
The vocals on Ghost albums have always been the point of contention for many - this reviewer included. While it's always refreshing to not have the typical growling frontman, the vocals in Ghost have always had an edge too soft - contradicting the heavy, atmospheric music they attempted to create.
Meliora, the band's latest release takes a good band, and finally manages to make them great. This, finally is the Ghost we've all been waiting for.
It looks like with "new" vocalist Papa Emeritus III, the band has finally found their groove. A wider range of vocals more suited to the proceedings along with a heavier, riffier style that brings it all together.
Which brings us to Dave Grohl. Officially, he has long been a fan and supporter of the band eventually taking his veneration to the next level and producing the 2013 e.p. If You Have Ghost.
Unofficially, Grohl has been long rumored to be one of the nameless ghouls, both in the studio and on stage. I never really subscribed to that theory - it always had that air of wishful thinking or that human nature sense of desperation - the need to put a face and a name to that we can't identify.
Well, after a few spins, Meliora has me thinking that the conspiracy theorists may actually be onto something. There's a swing in Ghost's sound that wasn't there before. A swing most definitely driven by the rhythm section. The way the toms come in on opening track "Spirit", a certain flam on the snare...
One could speculate on band rosters all day long, but what really does appear evident is the positive effect Grohl seems to have had on the band. Tracks like "Mummy Dust" and "From The Pinnacle To The Pit" have a gravitas that wasn't present on the band's previous releases.
There's no real evolution here, but Ghost have managed to tighten up their sound enough that Meliora should take them to the next level. Hell, we might even eventually find out who's in the band.