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Album Reviews : Ghost – Prequelle

By on May 25, 2018

For the anointed, whatever is written hence force will not make a damn difference to the affirmative decision to stream/ purchase the new album from Ghost, Prequelle. For the naysayer, the same applies but in reverse. For everyone else, this review will help if you are yet to decide if Ghost is for you.

Calling Prequelle a metal album is well and truly justified. Pundits from the well-respected Eddie Trunk to Kerry King have alluded to questioning if Ghost is a metal band… well if Ghost isn’t metal then either is Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Savatage and a slew of melodically inclined artists. I raise those similarities because Ghost performs metal of the decidedly listenable variety, much like the godfathers.

Ashes” introduces the sermon, using a kid’s nursery rhyme sung in a demented fashion common to horror film social media previews. “Rats” is the opening ‘song’, it contains the best elements of the above-mentioned godfather’s music. What you have is a serious statement of intent aimed at setting the musical narrative for the rest of the album.

Readers can go to YouTube and watch the dramatic initiation of Cardinal Copia, the band’s new vocalist. The esteemed Cardinal offers a spirited vocal performance, although what long-time fans will make of the transition is up to them… as a passive observer to the Ghost phenomenon, Copia sounds a lot like Papa Emeritus so the actual quality of the vocal hasn’t diminished.

As a bassist, I tune into the stringed performance with laser focus. It sounds as if a four-string bass guitar has been used on the album. The low ‘b’ of a 5-string bass would have made a significant difference to the bass prominent cuts, and there are a few… actually, most of the non-theatrical cuts have strong bass guitar qualities. The tenor of Copia’s voice would have suited the balance the low ‘c’ and ‘b’ offer. A middling point to the unfamiliar, but as a musician, you notice these things.

The album almost passes by too quickly. It’s an expertly produced, mixed and mastered affair. The highlights are spread across the cuts rather than isolated to a singular track, however, the Foreigner on steroids of “Dance Macabre” offers a most distinct stylistic change from prior albums, thus fuelling detractor’s comments that Ghost lean heavily into mainstream FM rock, even with the quasi-satanic lyrical themes present.

Whatever. Seriously, this is an album that as soon as the cut after “Dance Macabre” commences (“Pro Memoria”), with its highly articulate luciferin lyrical theme and Celine Dion knack for melody, the prudish will wonder WTF is happening. God bless Ghost for that.

In my lifetime as a heavy metal fan, wearers of Cradle of Filth t-shirts have been issued a court summons and merely being a visibly supportive fan of black metal could have led to serious consequences in the wrong part of town 20 years ago, so it is gratifying to watch Ghost’s melodic metal anthems achieve popularity.

If you are a fan of Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark at The Moon (’83), enjoy the dramatic Trans-Siberian Orchestra material, or just want a metal album that can be played at a social occasion or in the car due to its sterling sound quality, Prequelle is the business.

Band: Ghost
Album: Prequelle
Year: 2018
Genre: Metal
Label: Loma Vista / Spinefarm / Caroline Australia
Origin: Sweden

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith