Monday, April 22, 2013

Ghost: Infestissumam (2013)

The Second Coming

Ghost dominated the metal world in 2010. With their anonymous image, ecclesiastical parody costumes, and stated intent of making Satan palatable to the masses, they were so enigmatic and divisive that people couldn't stop talking about them. But without the tunes to back it up, of course, it doesn't matter how interesting your image is. Of course they had the tunes to back it up: Opus Eponymous made countless end-of-year lists. And it had many detractors.

With their sophomore album, Ghost* have not gone the safe route. Instead of continuing in their Blue Öyster Cult upgrade, they've crafted one of the most eclectic albums of the year. What misguided comparisons there were to Mercyful Fate are sure to be put to rest by this one.

The record begins on an extremely dramatic note, with a lot of choir, before jumping into the most metal track they've recorded to date. After that, all bets are off. While there are still some BÖC moments, they've gone further into the 80’s (“Jigolo Har Megiddo”), taken on balladry and surf rock (“Guleh / Zombie Queen”), incorporated hand claps (“Body and Blood”), and embraced pure bouncy pop (“Idolatrine”). The end of “Monstrance Clock” takes the church parody one step further by way of gospel choir. Yet with all these various styles seeping through, it still manages to sound like the same band.

As you might expect, the result is rather hit-and-miss. The circus music of “Secular Haze” is not good, at all, and overall the record just doesn't have that beginning-to-end excellence of Opus. But the experimentation does pay off, big time, with “Year Zero.” From the chanting of demons’ names, to the disco beat of the verse, to the fantastically overwrought chorus, the song is obscenely ambitious and fully lives up to its bizarre concept.

I’m not nearly as happy with Infestissumam as I was with its predecessor. But I’m still glad Ghost didn't stagnate. I’m sure they’ll capture our imaginations for years to come.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

* Yes, I'm still going to call them Ghost.


  1. Just put this in the CD player today. We'll see how it plays out.

  2. I've had some time to listen and your review is pretty much spot on. Year Zero is amazing. Infestissumum is amazing. And Monstrous Clock is amazing. Everything else is not so amazing. Notwithstanding, I'd give it 4 stars simply because when it's good, it's infectiously good. Almost dangerously so . . .

  3. Yeah, "Year Zero" is ridiculous. A few other times, the songs are pure gold. But I'm an album guy, and I hate skipping songs.

  4. Weirdly, Secular Haze is probably my favorite track. It sounds like The Doors/Amorphis hybrid. Pretty darn cool.