Anonymous Swedish act Ghost, who have seemingly taken the metal world by storm these last few years, have unleashed their third platter of King Diamond/Blue Oyster Cult/Deep Purple influenced melodic mayhem, titled Meliora. As you are probably aware, lead singer Papa Emeritus II has passed on and younger brother III has taken on the throne (though it's more than likely that all three brothers I, II, and III are actually the same person), but with all the theatricality and gimmicks this band of unknown, masked, and costumed musicians throw at us, in the end it's all about the music, and Meliora might just be their best release yet.
Their debut Opus Eponymous was a sinister slab of Satanic yet melodic metal, owing as much to doom legends Black Sabbath as it did the early black metal of Mercyful Fate. The follow-up Infestissumam was seen as a disappointment to many, as it had way more pop hooks and certainly was less heavy than the debut, but the bands penchant for catchy melodies took on even great force, as did the addition of some progressive & symphonic elements. So, it's not surprising that Meliora combines the two and delivers a stunningly mature and potent statement, filled with ten instantly memorable tracks that hit hard but stick in your brain like true anthems should. Plenty of creepy Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer float about the mix on the sensational opener "Spirit", enveloped by tasty, weaving lead guitars, heavy riffs, and hook laden vocals. Listen to that fat, evil bass that leads in the crushing "From the Pinnacle to the Pit", a lethal, groove filled metal monster with some of the most sinister vocals on the album, while the band goes for more of a doom vibe on the dark, unsettling "Cirice", featuring some massive riffing as well as a memorable chorus. "He Is" is a surprisingly soaring pop/prog number driven by some alluring instrumentation led by beds of keyboards and immense vocal layers, but before you can catch your breath the crunchy dark metal number "Mummy Dust" comes crashing through your speakers to make sure you don't fall into a tranquil state. Both "Majesty" and "Devil Church" offer up those Blue Oyster Cult styled vocal harmonies, and "Absolution" revisits early '80s Mercyful Fate styled evil metal, with a plethora of huge riffs, lead guitar, and of course catchy vocals. The quirky, upbeat, and surprisingly charming "Deus in Absentia" tells the story of the world burning in a funeral pyre, with the chorus again sounding like vintage Blue Oyster Cult (hey, maybe it's really Buck Dharma under that mask?), closing out Meliora on a real high note.
Listening to Meliora over and over again, one thing comes to mind, and that's how infectious these songs are. Sure, it's all pretty heavy and sinister at times, but the way the band drops in those catchy pop hooks and prog rock styled keyboards within all the metal bombast is quite appealing. I think it's safe to say that Meliora is going to showing up in a lot of Best of 2015 lists come December time frame.
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2) From the Pinnacle to the Pit
5) He Is
6) Mummy Dust
8) Devil Church
10) Deus In Absentia