Republic Records/Universal Music Australia
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Round two and more diverse than before
I have to admit that Ghost’s 2011 debut Opus Eponymous slipped under my radar until sometime in 2012. I know, I know. Better late than never, right? When I did give it a good listen, whilst the influences from which they’ve drawn upon cannot be avoided, it was still a breath of fresh air in the somewhat stale and very overcrowded metal scene that exists these days. It was refreshing and to a point original when you consider the scenes and styles that have dominated metal lately.
These masked and cloaked Swedes, lead by the charismatic and mysterious Papa Emeritus, delivered a rocking debut summoning the likes of Mercyful Fate, Blue Oyster Cult and even Black Sabbath to a lesser extent. It’s an album that is still garnering them new fans all the time and one that has already landed high profile fans such as Metallica’s James Hetfield, Down’s Phil Anselmo and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. Momentum has built significantly since the release of their debut to the point of their sophomore effort, dubbed Infestissumam, has become one of the most widely anticipated releases for 2013.
At a hometown show (Linköping, Sweden) in December 2012, the sextet introduced the leader’s successor Papa Emeritus II and the first taste of the forthcoming material, the carnival like Secular Haze. But it was the disco flavoured Year Zero that appeared a couple of months later that really started the ball rolling. The first striking element of the track was the inclusion of choral chants. For those who thought this duo of tracks signified a more diverse, and possibly challenging release this time around, you were right.
Infestissumam is not as rock oriented as the band’s debut. Sure, tracks like Per Aspera Ad Inferi, the swinging Jigolo Har Megiddo and Depth Of Satan’s Eyes are more in line with the band’s earlier material. But there are plenty of surprises in store. The predominantly pedestrian yet engaging Ghuleh/Zombie Queen is amazing. Clocking in at seven and a half minutes, the haunting and sombre first half switches pace into an up tempo finale lead by a huge chorus that is brilliantly backed by the stunning sounds of the St. Trident’s Tenors Of Tinseltown choir. The real treasure though is the epic masterpiece, Monstrance Clock. It meanders with a sinister tone driven home by Papa Emeritus’s outstanding performance and the infectious chant, “Come together, together as one. Come together, for Lucifer’s son.”
I think it’s fair to say that Infestissumam was not the album that fans might have expected from Papa Emeritus II and his horde of Nameless Ghouls. It is more than anyone could have imagined. It’s a collection of flowing odes to all things evil that will surprise you at every twist and turn – and believe me there are plenty of them along the way. But over the course of a few listens, you will absorb this and realise just as I did that Infestissumam will be hailed as one of the best albums of 2013 without question. Amazing!