“Ghost” Album Reviews

Amara Whited, Print Copy Editor

Many bands have attempted to make a breakthrough into the rock and metal scene. None have had an effect like Ghost, formerly known as Ghost B.C. Ghost are an occult rock band from Sweden whose lyrics often speak of the sacrilegious and evil. They have garnered worldwide attention for their often controversial lyrics, ear catching riffs, and arena rock-esque choruses. To date, Ghost has 4 studio albums, each of which introducing a “new” frontman, Papa Emeritus I – IV for their respective albums. Each of these albums has a unique feel and general topic, and deserve individual attention and discussion.


Starting with Opus Eponymous (latin for “Self titled Work”), this is the first album to be released. Hitting the scene in 2009, this album is gloomy, dark, and evil. The album is said to be about the coming of the Antichrist. Many songs such as “Prime Mover” and “Satan Prayer” explicitly mention Satan and other evil beings in the Christian religion. Some songs like “Elizabeth” don’t speak of an evil being, but rather an evil person. “Elizabeth” is about Elizabeth Bathory, a serial murderer and countess of 1500s Hungary. The song uses catchy choruses and solos to describe the woman’s acts. The guitar work on Opus Eponymous is often slow, deliberate, and reminiscent of doom metal music. Being their first album, it isn’t the most popular, but many regard it as Ghost at their most dark. This album was fronted by Papa Emeritus I, an old and Satan devoted man.


Second in line is 2012’s Infestissumam. This album is considered to be about the presence of the Antichrist. Some topics usually considered taboo are explored in songs like “Monstrance Clock” and “Jigolo Har Megiddo”. There were studio issues with this album, as the band had moved from their home of Sweden to the United States. They had also originally planned to record the album in Nashville, Tennessee, but the controversial nature of the album and its related artwork forced the band to relocate to Hollywood. This album is often seen as their weakest. Their sound had changed a lot from Opus Eponymous. In many songs, the “satanic” or evil factor was weak or completely absent. What had drawn many people to listen to Ghost in the first place was harder to find. In “Year Zero”, the element is still there, perhaps even stronger than Opus, but “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” lacked it almost altogether. Infestissumam is largely the most unpopular Ghost album, but not by much. This album was fronted by Papa Emeritus II, a serious but younger brother of Papa I.


2015’s Meliora (latin for “the pursuit of something better”) broke through to the mainstream. This album is said to be about the absence of God, what happens when there’s a void with nobody to help you. The band in their theatrical sense, is stepping in to offer you guidance. This album is also very distant from the original feeling of darkness and evil, even more so than Infestissumam. Most notably, the song “Cirice” won a Grammy for “Best Metal Performance” in 2016, as well as “Best Hard Rock/Metal Album” at the Swedish Grammis in 2015. The arena rock sound of songs like “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” and “Square Hammer” skyrocketed Ghost into the stage of rock music. The thumping, driving guitars on “Square Hammer” reverberate perfectly in arena venues, which is exactly what the band wanted. The powerful bass line in “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” is catchy and sets the tone for the song. “Cirice” is the perfect mix of slow, haunting acoustic guitar into overdriven, distorted guitar and goosebump inducing drumlines. The whole album has a feeling akin to neon signs and shiny, cheap jewelry, in the best way possible. It feels like fame; it feels like a band has started to take over the world. This album was fronted by Papa Emeritus III, an even younger and very flamboyant brother.


The release of Prequelle in 2018 brought a whirlwind of change in the story of Ghost. Along with the release of the music, a new character outside of the Emeritus bloodline was introduced. Cardinal Copia, a fresh faced, awkward young man was brought in to give the band life and youth. As time passed after the release of Prequelle, he has risen to Papal status and for the first time in Ghost history, a frontman may be doing two albums, one as Cardinal, and soon, one as Papa Copia. This album took the arena rock feeling of Meliora and ran with it. The catchy, loud guitar riffs and spunky background instruments like tambourines and semi-hollow guitars give Prequelle a feeling like no other Ghost album. This album can be interpreted as the spreading of ideas or surviving times when you feel threatened. Songs like “Rats” seem to explicitly be about the literal spread of disease, but have underlying themes that the listener could uncover. Ballads like “Life Eternal” and “Dance Macabre” balance out the pure rocking feel of “Faith”. Many faithful fans dismiss Prequelle as an album against everything Ghost is. This album was fronted by Cardinal Copia, whom later rose to Papa Emeritus IV.


With these four current albums out, Ghost has created a strong foundation for the rest of their career. Speculations among fans for a new album are growing by the day, but a formal announcement is to be seen.