ALBUM REVIEW: Ghost – Prequelle
What a ride it has been for Ghost. At this point the band are up there with the biggest exports from Sweden along with the famous Gothenburg metal scene, Saab Motors and the homeware titans IKEA.
The band’s new album, Prequelle, follows on from the tremendous success of winning the 2016 Grammy award for ‘Best Metal Performance’ for their wonderful single Cirice. The flip side of this is that the band went through some turmoil towards the end of 2017 with a number of previous band members (also referred to as Nameless Ghouls) filing a lawsuit against frontman/main songwriter Tobias Forge (who had been only been known as the mysterious Papa Emertius throughout a number of different incarnations of the character).
The album opens with an eerie introduction entitled Ashes, consisting of children singing the classic nursery rhyme Ring A Ring o’ Roses which famously describes the horrific plague or Black Death that wiped out millions of lives across the world from 1347 to 1351. Now, normally an introduction like this would seem like a chore (often these introduction tracks offer nothing to an album and seem to just be used as a time filler) but when it comes to a band like Ghost who rely heavily on the theatrics and atmosphere of it all, it seems more worthwhile.
The first proper track of the album is named Rats, and what a way to start! The high tempo drum beat paves the way for the stringed instruments with their upbeat almost punk riff, before the newly reimaged ring leader of the band, Cardinal Copia, brings his clear, superior vocals to the forefront. Despite the gargantuan chorus hook and sweeter than honey vocal melodies that run throughout this song, you cannot help but notice the stark contrast in everything else. The guitars have that heavily distorted edge (this is no more present than in the crushing riff that sees out the song) and the lyrical theme that the song is based around is grim to say the least, once again referring to the spreading of disease and destruction like wildfire.
As the album moves on tracks such as Faith and See The Light continue the theme of darkness and death whilst keeping an upbeat and progressive pace and delivery. The former contains some of the finest guitar work that Ghost have produced in their career to date, the style of which is not too far removed from the NWOBHM titans Iron Maiden. However the latter leans more heavily on the band’s pop influences and progressive rock musicianship to create a melodic double edged sword of a track. The other side of this particular blade being the dark twist on Christian terminology with the lines in the chorus “Drink me, eat me, then you’ll see the light”.
As the album continues we come to the second single from the album, Dance Macabre, which was brought to the public in an ingenious manor. The band decided to use the social media format of Instagram to stream the track through a number of clips of celebrities enjoying the track, with cameos from Chris Jericho, Kirk Hammett and Phil Anselmo. The single itself is a fantastic, pop-soaked rock effort that wouldn’t be out of place on a Blue Oyster Cult album; with it’s sweeter than honey vocal melodies and seismic hooks this song see the band virtually cast off the eerie and dark elements of their sound and replaces them with sparkly clean production and radio friendly sensibilities. This one is sure to set the metal community’s internet trolls over the edge, but frankly if you cannot look past the ‘it’s not metal’ argument to see the fact that this is an instant classic, then we are happy for you to stay under your bridge and on your forums.
Ghost have taken this album on a step from where they left off with Meloria. The guitars have stepped up a gear and link up better than ever, the drums are just as upbeat and driving as ever before and the vocals have taken that extra step forward to creating radio-friendly, yet dark and eerie story telling. This album is Ghost sharpening their skills and producing the best album they are capable of in 2018, and we are fully on board.
Long live Ghost.
Standout Tracks: Rats, See The Light, Dance Macabre
For Fans Of: Blue Oyster Cult, Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats, Danzig
Written by: Richard Webb