There are only two albums that I’ve listened back to back five times (possibly more) and where I could not wait until I woke up the next morning so I could listen to it again and again. First one is Ark’s masterful “Burn the Sun”; the second one is Ghost’s hauntingly beautiful “Opus Eponymous”. Highly praised from bands and critics alike, newly formed Swedish metalers Ghost really capture everything we love about not just metal but music itself. Faceless (they play with hoods and masks on) and shrouded in mystery each member truly drives their instrument to the brink of emotional exhaustion on this opus.
What you have to know before we begin is that each song on here is either dedicated to Satan or mentions the Satan in some form or other. First lyric ever sung on this album is LUCIFER. And to add more to confusion, each member of the band is shrouded in mystery by strictly keeping their identities secret. Each member performs live in dark hooded robes, except for the singer who performs in a skull mask and cardinal outfit (see album cover). Rumors are that each member of Ghost is well seasoned musician from well respected and already established bands (that would certainly explain their masterful use of instruments and songwriting), so they use their eccentric and secretive status to avoid problems that they might face from the fans or press (or church maybe?) in their current bands. While some bands like Gorgoroth, Bathory or Mayhem are very serious about their satanic messages, other bands are plainly making a satire or a parody of the whole thing. Honestly, I am really not sure where Ghost would fit in. My suspicion is more of a latter than former. Personally, I could care less. In my opinion existence of biblical Satan is as likely as the existence of Poseidon or Zeus. Regardless of your thoughts on subject, you will miss dearly on some of the best metal put out there if you take lyrics as your only deterrent. As matter of fact, this album would not sounds as good if they were talking about anything OTHER than Satan. Subject itself gives this album very different feel regardless of your position on it.
Now onto to the music. Each song is bound to leave listener mentally drained of every emotion buried deep in the allies of their minds. It is really impossible to categorize this band in any kind of metal category. This certainly is not death or black metal. From hearing just the first track “Con Clavi Con Dio”, you know that you are about to hear something special and original. Ghost really bring fresh air of eerie sonic brilliance to the stale market of power metal and alternative.
Lets start with vocals. Super clean, haunting, and crisp. Haven’t heard one scream, growl or even a shout through out the whole thing. And despite the cleanness, this is one of the heaviest vocals we’ve heard in the past two decades. Added cathedral reverb ads that proto 70′s early 80′s metal feel to the vocal mix that in my opinion makes it extremely haunting and heavy despite being clean (if that makes any sense).
Guitar riffs are onward marching and while may not be the most original, they certainly are brilliantly integrated into the whole thing. Reminiscent of 70′s Priest, Megadeth, Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, early Sentenced or even newer Cult, riffs are really to the point and tight. Riffs are never really doomy or down-tuned, but straight forward with added mid sizzle and just enough fuzziness to fill out those mid frequencies so many bands miss use, or don’t use at all (Metallica take note).
But the chord progressions and tasty guitar leads take the cake in my opinion. Cuts like “Ritual” at 3:25 (until the end) and “Satan Prayer” from 3:04 to 3:19 are great examples of catchy and original chord progression layered with some really emotional guitar playing. It is as if both guitar players have a window into your soul so every time they fire up their axes, they reach deep down and take the small piece of it with them.
The whole thing is conjoined and held together by a truly sinister church organ played in the background in pretty much every song. It constantly pokes your every auditory sense looking for the place to finally lay down its Satan’s bride …(evil laughter here)…
Think of Blue Oyster Cult crossed with early Mercyful Fate, Whichfinder General, early Sentenced and maybe some early Sabbath and you might only begin to describe tapestry of sounds interwoven into about 35 minutes of pure brilliance.
Favorites are: instrumental “Genesis” (brilliant acoustic outro), “Elizabeth” a disturbing tribute to medieval serial killer Elizabeth Bathory, “Satan Prayer” and Ritual. But really it is like picking few gems from pile of diamonds.
And finally, if you don’t believe me, ask James Hetfield of Metallica or Phil Anselmo of Pantera if you should get this album. Both men highly praised Ghost by wearing the bands t-shirt on their own tours, or even performing with the bend on the stage. Now quit wining on how you will become Satan’s servant if you start with this band and get this damn (no pun intended) album.
All songwriting credited to “A Ghoul Writer”.
1. “Deus Culpa” – 1:34
2. “Con Clavi Con Dio” – 3:33
3. “Ritual” – 4:28
4. “Elizabeth” – 4:01
5. “Stand by Him” – 3:56
6. “Satan Prayer” – 4:38
7. “Death Knell” – 4:36
8. “Prime Mover” – 3:53
9. “Genesis” 4:03
10. “Here Comes the Sun” (The Beatles cover, Japanese bonus track) 3:24