Ghost – Opus Eponymous


When Ghost’s Opus Eponymous came out, the reaction from the metal blogs and the forums seemed to be variations on: “This isn’t very heavy, is it?” That the image the band projects (a very specifically Satanic, devil-worshiping, self-consciously EVIL image) is at odds with the music, which would be quite at home on a NWOBHM album from the early 80s. No growly vocals, no machine-gun drumming. It was heavy metal like they made a long time ago. All melodic and stuff, with a closing track that had more synths than guitars.

The lead singer goes by the nom d’ghul of Papa Emeritus, while the rest of the band are Nameless Ghouls (though apparently there is a new Papa Emeritus…Papa Emeritus II…who is the same guy as the first one. They’re Swedish). They have all the trappings of a band that is exxxtreme…but the music is good old-fashioned heavy metal. The sort of stuff normal people can listen to.*

*I know there are many defenders of growly, screamy vocals out there. I like Opeth (thought that’s about it for black metal, which means, I suppose, I’m not a real black metal fan). But invariably, when I introduce people new to something with the cookie monster singing, their reaction is to laugh. Many find it silly. I find it silly. 


And that is the overall impression of Ghost’s album – they are normal heavy metal rockers who really, really like Satan. The lyrics are completely on the nose. My two favorite verses are from “Elizabeth” (“Her pact with Satan, her despisal of mankind, her acts of cruelty make her one of us”), and the subtly named “Satan Prayer” (“Believe in one god do we, Satan almighty”). If one were inclined (and had a sense of humor) one might find it kind of funny. “Death Knel”l even inverts the joke – the first two words of that song, “Say, can.” What does that rhyme with?

Do Ghost believe in what they’re pushing? Is it all for show? Does it matter? The album is fun, it’s short, it’s the kind of metal I wish there were more of.

Rating: B+

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