Ghost is one of those band’s that you come across and just go…”wtf.” If you don’t believe me, wait till you see the picture of the Swedish group at the bottom. I came across Prequelle back in July and immediately knew that it would be my Halloween review. This band is creepy, their music is weirdly haunting, and their lyrical subjects are downright weird. This is the same band that has caused controversy in the US for having strong Satanic themes so you can imagine they have a very strange vibe to them. Their latest record is no different and takes you back to the middle ages.
Nailing down who exactly is the singer of this band is more confusing than religion itself. Technically they have always had one lead singer, that being Tobias Forge, however, he is now onto his fourth persona and has “killed and embalmed” his predecessors. When I say this band is weird, I am not joking. Cardinal Copia is his latest character and it doesn’t feel much different than some of his earlier work and the vocals just doesn’t feel like it fits with the instrumentals. He doesn’t have a major range and at times, almost feels whiney. On the final track, “Life Eternal,” he has a much more emo vibe than a metal sound. Yet while the singing aspects aren’t fantastic, the lyrics are…different? I question it due to the fact that my knowledge of metal isn’t deep however, I don’t think it is common to create a whole album around the bubonic plague. Just look at the chorus on “Witch Image”:
“Someone’s flesh is rotting tonight
Like no other to you…
What you’ve done you cannot undo
While you sleep in earthly delight
Still, your soul will suffer this plight
Like your father in hell…
What you’ve sold you cannot unsell”
Like, come on! Tell me that is not even the slightest bit strange to be singing about rotting flesh. Even the most violent of gangster rappers aren’t discussing soul suffering and bodies rotting in their choruses. That isn’t even the darkest song on the record. “Pro Memoria has the feel of a Queen ballad but keeps reminding you that you and all your friends will die. Just strange.
Between solid guitar riffs and some really good drumming, you would expect me to like this aspect of the project. However, once I reached the end, I felt like something was lacking. It has every instrumental aspect that you would hope to hear, with pieces that could fit in with the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, or even some Ozzy records. Although, many of the tracks had similar chords and vibes that, while flowing into each other, didn’t show a lot of range from an already mysterious band. Now, I would love to point out certain members who do better than others (I love the fills the drummer uses throughout) but of course, none of them have names. They are all referred to as “Nameless Ghouls”…to my frustration. The only member they do separate out is Gavin Fitzjohn, who goes by the name Papa Nihil while working with Ghost. His addition of the saxophone towards the end of “Miasma” is certainly interesting which I feel in the end works. Saxophones are rarely used in metal but they seem to incorporate it well here.
This was pretty much the only area of Prequelle that I appreciated. As someone without a huge background in metal, they don’t overpower your ears with crazy loud instrumentals or vocals (you still should listen to the album full blast for the complete effect). It all feels smooth and the transitions flow very well. The theme of the record was the middle ages during the bubonic plague and they hit it on the nose. The vibe of the project is haunting and weird, which in the end seems to work for a band that is described as a “Satanic cult band.”
“Miasma” and “Dance Macabre”
I had no idea what I was getting into when I started listening to Ghost’s recent release. It wasn’t until I looked up a picture of them that I had a better sense of the people behind the music. It’s weird, creepy, and twisted…perfect for listening to on Halloween or if you want to learn more about the bubonic plague. Prequelle was not my favorite and only gets a:
Sometimes albums don’t hit my ears right and this was one of them. Maybe you will love hearing about rotting flesh and people dying but that’s not my groove! Happy Halloween!