Ghost - Opus Eponymous

12-Aug-2011 Label: Rise Above/Riot!
Produced by Gene Walker
Playing time: 34.41
Rating: 98%
Reviewed by Brian Fischer-Giffin

Ghost - Opus EponymousI’ve been listening to this album for a couple of months now, and I still can’t decide if the people behind it are serious, or if this is an extremely well-done parody. From the album title to the cartoonishly Satanic lyrics sung in a style you totally wouldn’t expect to the hidden identities of the musicians involved, Ghost’s Opus Eponymous sounds like it could be a bunch of people poking fun. But it matters not, because whatever the case -- po-faced Luciferians or practical joke-pulling Swedish death metal musicians – this is one of the brightest, catchiest and most entertaining metal releases of 2011.

Lyrically, this is reminiscent of Mercyful Fate during King Diamond’s full-on Satanic phase. Virtually every song is an invocation or some kind of Satanic hymn, evoking the King of Hell or espousing the power of evil, sung so earnestly it’s difficult to take them completely seriously. Wrapped around them is retro/psychedelic /doom metal/rock like a cross between Candlemass and Blue Öyster Cult, a match made in Hell if ever there was one. The surging, trippy organ, the simplistic, rock-style riffs, clean guitar tone and neat melodies are all throwbacks to mid-70s classics like Tyranny and Mutation and Secret Treaties, mixed with the doom edge of, say, Ancient Dreams. “Con Clavi con Dio” and “Death Knell” have some excellent retro organ work throughout and every song is just dripping with hook-ridden old school riffs.

What makes this album such a clear winner however are the ridiculously infectious, soaring choruses that virtually force the listener to sing along within moments of hearing them, exactly like the ones Albert Bouchard and Sandy Pearlman were writing at their creative zenith 35 or so years ago. “Stand By Him” is without doubt one of the catchiest songs of this year. The pure pop sensibility that Ghost has worked into their music is astonishing, and even the instrumental tracks have an almost early-90s video game feel to them. The over-the-top Satanic lyrics are a lot of fun too. Quite simply, this is a fantastic album.

1. Deus Culpa
2. Con Clavi con Dio
3. Ritual
4. Elizabeth
5. Stand by Him
6. Satan Prayer
7. Death Knell
8. Prime Mover
9. Genesis

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