Company: Loma Vista Release: 2015 Genre: Progressive, hard rock Reviewer: T. Ray Verteramo
The songs stay with you
I have a serious "love/hate" thing with Ghost. I am in love with this damn album and I hate them for it.
What is this circus, formerly known as Ghost B.C.? They're all about the show and never denied it. They do this "ministry" thing and their "message" and their whatever. Their music structure of choice is usually a patchwork quilt of riffs and queer tempo changes, hooks, and chord progressions soldered together. Their singer sounds like a "Michael Stipe-semi-sound-alike" in a hat. Essentially, on the surface, they're pretty much just a joke without a punch-line, a hipster salad, and a novelty.
Except they're not.
All of these tracks, very much like Ghost and Ghost BC of the past five years, have a very loose sense of continuity. There are limited aspects that tie one phrase from the next; you get into one groove, then another will slip the rug out from under it. It is typically very difficult to grasp anything in genuine chaos, because as human beings, we thrive in patterns and rhythm. Repetition triggers our survival mechanism that something is working, whether it be a machine, a schedule, a heartbeat, or a piece of art. So, when we are presented with organized noises that give the impression that they have been cut and pasted, the first instinct is to repel. But, there's something salacious about their presence that triggers an impulse to instruct you otherwise.
With this particular project, "Meliora," it's apparent that they were aiming for a more metropolitan avant garde angle, while driving the guitars a little harder. This would seem very much like trying to pair socks with sandals and make it look good, if anyone else dared. "What the hell is this?" but then you listen…really listen and start to hear the staples that hold the patches together and begin see the whole picture. So, what first strikes you as ridiculous becomes brilliant.
Those who are always screaming, "There's nothing new! There's nothing good anymore!" are usually the ones still keeping the same 10 cd's in the changer from grade school. Well, prog isn't meant to be pretty or easily understood. It's the stuff that makes the new stuff new, propels the medium forward, and provides the sparks for others to ignite from.
Somewhere under the paint and the masks are no clowns, but skilled craftsmen. A layman may not be able to understand the consistency, but they do. They get it and they don't compromise and that's what makes them Metal. Perhaps they really are scary to some, but at the very least, curious. I suspect that's what initially signs their checks…
But, then, you listen to that bass intro to "Pinnacle to the Pit," and it sticks like good pasta in the ribs. Over the deep, watery tones, the lulling alto voice of Papa Emeritus III hypnotically surfs upon the surface before the notes skillfully stumbles upon themselves in the chorus. It's awkward and mesmerizing. Further listening, "Cirice" emotes haunting words like, "I can hear the thunder that's breaking in your heart / I can see through the scars inside you," tap into something divinely human, unnervingly personal, and almost invasive. You find yourself listening to "He Is," without that usual gag reflex from hearing that modern Evangelical pop hymn rock because of its sinister mockery perfection. The power of "Mummy Dust" compels you, in spite of its weirdness. And though they make double-sided claims to where their ideologies lie (or don't), "Majesty" and "Deus in Absentia" are both very convincing.
Gimmick or not, as artists and musicians, they are effective. The songs stay with you. Your ego may hate it, but your id can't get enough.
I want to hate this band so much. I want to chuck the very memory of them into the oubliette of bad gimmicks to be forgotten…as soon as I listen to this damn album one more, twice, twenty more times. Resistance is futile. Then again, who's to say that the resistance isn't part of the fun? After all, couldn't the prick of the needle be just as addictive as the shot? Hate ‘em or love ‘em, "Meliora" gives you wings…those bastards.
About this Writer: T. Ray Verteramo // T. Ray is a product of New York Mediterranean upbringing, discovering Alice Cooper before puberty, and Iron Maiden after. Taken underwing by the former managing editor of Hit Parader magazine in 1985, she took to freelancing, writing up the local and national circuit for 7 years. A new millennium, a published dystopic thriller, and a CNN article on life in metal in the 80's later, she's been thrown back to the wolves, into a much darker and deeper part of the forest.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details