From the opening theremin refrains of “Spirit,” Ghost immediately adorns itself in the familiar façade of religious reverie and Scooby-Doo spookiness. Ghost is a band that stretches both metal and religious conventions to cartoonish proportions, lovingly mocking each while producing music that transcends the shtick and satire. Behind all of the face paint and costumes lies some of this generation’s finest doom metal. The band’s third full-length release, Meliora, does little to change that trend.
Ghost gets its jollies by juxtaposing crushingly catchy metal riffs with church organs and Papa Emeritus III’s angelically melodic vocals. “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” is built on an indelibly funky groove, but it is unable to prevent itself from indulging in choral dalliances. “He Is” begins folksy, borderline corny, with acoustic guitars over lyrics like, “We’re standing here by the abyss and the world is in flames; Two star-crossed lovers reaching out to the beast with many names,” before slowly evolving into an epic, worshipful torch song…for the devil. But the real stand out is the album’s first single, “Cirice,” the music video for which (below) is the best to come out so far this year. It perfectly encapsulates the band’s sense of humor and incredible song writing.
“Meliora,” is Latin for “better,” but while Infestissumam remained solid and steady throughout, this album eventually runs out of gas. The album is top-loaded with its best tracks, leaving little to lean on in the home stretch. Song-to-song the album starts to blurs together into something decidedly Ghost-sounding, but generically so. This is doubly damning considering the meager track list (10 songs, two of which are brief instrumental interludes). The failure to better pace itself makes for a serviceable but sub-standard ordination for the band’s newest Papa (yes, it’s still really just Tobias Forge under the vestments). Meliora will still please the faithful, even if they find themselves nodding off by the end of the sermon.