Ghost - Opus Eponymous
Rise Above
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
9 songs (34:41)
Release year: 2010
Ghost, Rise Above
Reviewed by Charles
This was a blind buy for me, from my local independent metal store. I try and do this sort of thing at least a couple of times a month, so that when it eventually becomes yet another discount clothes shop selling the labours of Vietnamese children I can at least tut disapprovingly without looking like such a hypocrite. Keep metal on the high street, that's my motto! Anyway, I chose this from the 'New Releases' shelf because it has a cool cover which resonates very deeply with the retro-horror obsessive within me. I'm not sure if you'd count that as a good reason, but the gamble, on this occasion, paid off.

This is not an entirely straight-faced band, as you may be able to tell from the slightly goofy title. These Swedish musicians are Halloween-costumed and anonymous, raising the spectre of more Scandinavian novelty nonsense like Lordi. The sound is perpetually adorned with hammy horror trimmings- creepy narrations, church organs, and so forth- but these elements are actually subsumed into a slick and extremely well-constructed heavy metal album which it is much easier to take seriously.

Ghost invoke the spirit (ahem) of earlier hard rock and metal acts, injecting some gothic and stoner elements to that template, as well as what seems like a heavy dose of 1960s pop. The band that occurs to me most frequently as an inspiration is Angel Witch, because like the NWOBHM legends this has an intense and skilled focus on melody. It is the melodic hooks that drives all the tunes here and makes them memorable, and they are frequently illuminated by clever backing vocal harmonies. Still, this is much more polished and certainly more constrained. More calculated, in fact, and it has a sort of pop sheen to it. Lead guitars are tasteful and even subtle as opposed to exuberant and widdly. For an example see the mere six-bar construction in Ritual, a short-but-sweet tone-bending gem of a guitar solo, illuminating a tune packed with restrained and classy melodic vocal lines with its sonic glow. Songs are compact and often strikingly sculpted. Stand By Him features the kind of diminished-chord finger finger-tapping soloing and faux-menacing Hammond organ rumbling that makes it feel like it could be a pop-metal rendition of The Phantom of the Opera, all slotted neatly together into four minutes.

This is the drill, then. Clever and catchy vocal lines melded to polished hard rock riffs, with a gothic-horror sensibility accentuated by rich, sometimes even psychedelic keys. I am a sucker for synths when used effectively, and the very retro-sounding parping that overlays the tuneful closing refrain of Satan Prayer I find extremely effective. The most exaggerated synth statement is the closing instrumental, Genesis, which gallops through a radiant fusion of quirky electronica and haunting lead guitar wailing. This is not normally my sort of thing, but I have been enjoying Opus Eponymous immensely.

Killing Songs :
Ritual, Stand By Him, Satan Prayer, Genesis
Charles quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Ghost that we have reviewed:
Ghost - Meliora reviewed by Jared and quoted 90 / 100
Ghost - Infestissumam reviewed by Jared and quoted 80 / 100
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