I dare say when Ghost first emerged in 2010 with their debut album ‘Opus Eponymous’ that many people wrote them off as a novelty act who wouldn’t make it to a second album. What a surprise it must have been then to see them become a massive arena conquering rock juggernaut who are about to unleash their fourth full-length album Prequelle on the expectant masses. It speaks volumes not only to the determination and vision of the bands several figureheads over the years, Papa Emeritus’ I-III, that they and their nameless ghouls were able to lay such a solid foundation for new band leader Cardinal Copia to pick up the baton and carry that vision forward in such a spectacular way.
Prequelle opens with the nightmarish ‘Ashes’ which puts a very Elm Street spin on the nursery rhyme Ring a ring of roses and delivers a foreboding sense of what’s to come before giving way to the album’s lead single Rats which is arguably the best song Ozzy Osbourne never wrote. Its enormous, anthemic and showcases the talent that Ghost have for writing massive stadium metal hits. Let’s put it this way death and decay have never sounded so majestic.
Faith is a stunning highlight of what Ghost have become. An absolutely huge track that comes across like an apocalyptic Queen. Full of stadium rock sensibilities undercut with bombastic occult brilliance. It has tons of atmosphere and a delicious chorus that is impossible to resist before building to a suitably demonic crescendo. From the moment I first heard Ghost I said I thought they sound like Black Sabbath playing Abba songs and no more is this evident than on Dance Macabre which really takes the Abba vibes and dials them up to 11. This is a devilish disco jam with an outrageous goth glam stomp to it that Satan himself would get onto the dancefloor for after a few cheeky vimtos. This is by far the most out and out fun song on the album and is sure to be a favourite for years to come.
See the light slows the pace down with it’s 80’s classic rock balladry. It’s one of the best songs that Ghost has ever written. It has a huge widescreen sound to it. It takes a more stripped down approach and goes for the heart and it really pulls the listener in with its more subtle approach. The lyrical refrain of ‘But of all of the demons I’ve known, none could compare to you’ is particularly poignant. It’s a tender song that still retains all of the trademarks Ghost are known for.
There are two instrumental tracks on here that break up the album’s pacing somewhat. The first is Miasma, a synth-fuelled instrumental that sounds like the mutant hybrid of a Dream Theater jam session and an 80’s sci-fi theme that completely switches gears towards the end heralding the arrival of a 70’s porn sax solo. And yes, it is as glorious as it sounds. The second of these, Helvestefonster, has a more traditional earthy appeal to it. There are still synths in there, but this is more a folk-inspired track that comes in nicely towards the end of the album.
Witch Image is one of the more thematic songs on the album. Like an ode or possibly cautionary tale, that on the surface seems inspired by Salem and the witches trials or at least uses that as a metaphor to talk about the plague (which also inspired much of the album’s themes) with lyrics like ‘While you sleep in earthly delight, someone’s flesh is burning tonight’ which conjures up a whole mass of mental images for the listener to ponder over.
Prequelle is a bold album from a bold band. It delivers on every promise they have made over the last 8 years and while there are definitely moments where you can almost picture Cardinal Copia riding through a cemetery on a unicorn sprinkling pixie dust over all the graves, because of how deliriously over the top this album is in places. There also seems to be a real emphasis on making everything bigger this time around and even though the run time is a lot shorter, there seems to be a focus on making every single second count, not a moment is wasted here at all.
Ghost have written the album of their careers, one that will see them reach the lofty heights of arena rock dominance and it won’t be too long until they are a permanent fixture on the festival headlining circuit. This is everything that you could possibly want to love about rock music all wrapped up in one perfectly written and deftly executed package. If you were one of those people who wrote Ghost off before, then now is the time to reconsider your seat among the congregation.
Prequelle is released on the 1st of June through Spinefarm Records.