GHOST ALBUM'S REVIEW : PART I
First off, let me start this one with a disclaimer. This particular entry will post on MetalMadTV and FB where rumors about the focus band are currently running wild. Yes. I'm talking to all of you on FB, friend or not. Let me make it abundantly clear to all of you that this entry is about the music and my associated experiences and opinions.
I could give a rat's ass what goes on in the current and past band members personal lives. I have a great respect for what they do, but I don't know them. I don't care who hates who, who may have fired who, who is sweet and innocent, and who is a beer swilling bad boy. It's their business, not ours, and any public outcry you make over a person's behavior basically makes you the hypocritical embodiment of all you purport to hate. If you hate drama. Stop creating it. If you are a native English speaker and post a rant with the grammar and spelling of a drunken hobo, maybe pause and rethink your actions. Pick your battles more carefully or simply do not engage at all. You make yourself a sad comedy routine to those of us content to not care and focus on the music.
Ok. Rant done.
Per our lovely admin here at MetalMadTV I was asked to do a throw back review of sorts for Ghost. This is a fun one for me because I had no idea who they were for a long time. I was running in different musical circles when Opus was released. I didn't become a fan until shortly after Meliora was released, so basically I'm treating it like a new album review. That works. Right?
Good. Glad we agree.....
I'm a devout Ghost fan now. They make the type of music that is genuine sensory bliss for a person with my wiring. I can't just be a listener because there's too much sensory feedback going on. I have to experience it. The visuals are on par with what I already naturally see so if anything, it's an organic experience. Rather than list each song on each album, I'm looking at each album as a whole. Maybe I'll change that. I don't know. That works, yes? Good. We still agree..... Let's start recent and work our way backward into my wide world of weird and my perspectives on Ghost.
Popestar--Released September 16, 2016 by Loma Vista Recordings
Think of an oscilloscope. I don't mean a phone app or anything cushy and updated like that. I mean a big boxy oscilloscope with all the buttons and dials and white lines on a black screen where the waves appear. I mean one of those that looks like the early 80's idea of a portable television. That wave form in a lime(ish) shade of green hit me like a brick when I first heard track one "Square Hammer". I recall Special Ghoul (hereafter referred to as SG if I mention him again), making reference to "straight to the jugular" during an interview about the new EP. It's an apt description. There's no stepping into the shallow side of the pool with this one. You get pushed into the deep. I like jumping in feet first..... With the rest of the Popestar EP being covers, I was curious if Ghost's version of each song would affect me like the originals. It was a fun experiment to say the least. Think of it like this, if the original songs were muted colors, Popestar was like turning up the saturation to the top of the scale.
I found myself affected in similar ways by the slower paced tracks, all gorgeous in their own right, with instrumentation that I really didn't expect to hear on a Ghost album, but the composition still made it uniquely Ghost. "Missionary Man" stood out to me. That one was drastically different. That one was full of angles and shapes. It felt like a flashback to a technical drawing chapter in my high school art class. Everything was outlined in flashes of bright colored lines with lots of reds and yellows. Imagine looking at your bookshelf but add occasional bursts of red and yellow lines around the edges.
Now, let us go back to "Nocturnal Me", "I Believe", and "Bible"............
I love overcast days. Different shades of translucent and deep greys interspersed with bright white from the sun trying to force it's way through the rain. Days like that are a source of inner peace for me, and that is precisely how each of the three tracks appeared to me. I find that songs which are more graceful to the ear tend to appear like this. Each was a rhythmic float through a rain shower. Each one surrounded me with amorphous clouds of translucent grey. If my zen space is lying in bed listening to a thunderstorm, then this is the next best thing.
Meliora--Released August 21, 2015 by Loma Vista Recordings
This one was a head first glide of the mind's eye into a gloriously synchronized black, gold, and silver machine. If it's not obvious yet, I'm a riff addict. The first track I heard off Meliora was "From the Pinnacle to the Pit". That, ladies and gents, is the perfect introduction for a lover of great guitar work such as myself. It was a rhythmic pulse through the gears of that machine and I loved it. For the sake of continuity, though, let me back track to "Spirit"....track one. In other words, let's take it from the top.
Drum accents tend to show up on the right side of my visual field. They start as a disturbance in movement and then take on some sort of color. I haven't figured out yet why some show up more than others. Don't really care...... What I tend to end up with is a smooth distribution of color for the song itself with synchronized color movement accents as the drum beat progresses. Think of it like this. If every part of the song except for the drums is a smooth transition of a belt between gears, the drumbeat is the part of the belt that is currently contacting the gears. With "Spirit", as with the rest of the tracks, especially "Pinnacle, Cirice, and Absolution", everything was a cadence of black with drum accents to the right looking silvery. Vocals were gold. Always the most beautiful accent of gold....
As an aside to all this, if you've never experienced Papa's vocals a cappella, find the video on Youtube that is a portion of the song "Secular Haze" with the instrumentals removed. It's fucking amazing.
Meliora is their best work so far, in my opinion. A masterpiece of an album. It's riff driven. The previous album, Infesstissumam wasn't. Time constraints in production prevented that. Many of you will disagree with me and say Opus Eponymous is their best. You're entitled to your opinion as am I. Just remember, every band evolves, and this is my article to write, so let us agree to disagree.
If You Have Ghost--Released November 19, 2013 by Loma Vista Recordings
Classical music is usually the only style that tends to appear to me in great swaths of rainbow colors. Not anymore apparently. IYHG is the first non classical album (well, EP) to do this to me in a long time. It was heavy on the orange, but mostly rainbow. I love the covers on this album, more than the originals (and yes, I'm old enough to remember the originals). I'm usually a hard sell when it comes to covers. What is it that this band has that others don't? Well, if you ever want my opinions on that, it would take a whole other article, so let us not go there right now.
"If You Have Ghost". That one is in a world of its own isn't it? I actually prefer the acoustic version to the one on the album. Both sound great, but the acoustic, at least to my ear is a more natural fit for the dynamics of the song. Lyrically.....well, lets just say the first time I heard the original, I knew from the beginning that something was....askew....with the songwriter. I found out about Roky Erickson's psychiatric history after Ghost remade it. Nonetheless, still a great song. Nonetheless, still makes me see wavy mixes of color flowing like a slow moving river.
"I'm a Marionette" I knew immediately that it wasn't Earth Ghoul playing drums on this one. Dave Grohl has a distinct playing style. He's easy for me to recognize. This song made me see A. Lot. Of. Orange. There were hints of a color mix in places but, they were few and far between. Apparently ABBA covers make me see orange. Good thing I like the color. I don't have much more to say except that it's a really really good cover.
"Crucified" and "Waiting for the Night". These were like sailing across earth and heaven respectively. Think of a multicolored magic carpet ride, with vocals triggering a golden orange haze, and drum accents in their requisite place to the right of my visual field. Both blossom with soaring vocals. The only difference in the visual experience was that "Crucified" was a bumpier ride than "Waiting for the Night".
"Secular Haze". The live version is on IYHG. I prefer that one. You know the keyboard intro. The one that makes you think you've been teleported to a circus tent in hell? That one strikes a dissonant chord that makes my brain want to respond in stranger ways than it already does, yet it's so addictive, you can't turn away. Have you ever ridden a carousel? You know how the music is loud and all around you? That's how this song affects me. The sounds surround me and so does the color. This time around there's no real form to it. Think of it as a colorized version of how the clouds appeared in my Popestar description above. The vocals and especially the harmony really grabs you. That is mostly orange in my mind's eye.
Now I want to binge listen my collection.
Infesstisumam and Opus Eponymous in the next entry.