Ghost – Prequelle
The fact that the world around Ghost has been quiet turbulent lately has probably not eluded anyone with an interest in hard rock, or perhaps an interest in music in general, since Ghost is more likely to be seen as a global phenomenon than solely an interest concerning the hard rock-sphere.
The time when Ghost still was a “band” is gone, yes maybe even long gone by now, but now the secret is out and the cards are on the table , this is now Tobias Forges ship, who he along with a hired crew, navigates the hard and unforgiving sea of making hit music. Since all forms of enigma and anonymity, even officially, have disappeared along with the court proceedings, Ghost also lost the last bit of mystery surrounding the band and without the help gained by keeping Ghost in secrecy, the new album, “Prequelle”, is an album where the music certainly must be able to speak for itself.
It reminds me a bit of when Kiss dropped the make-up in 1983, and just like with Ghost and their new album, Kiss couldn’t afford to let “Lick it Up” to be just “another day on the job” but instead it was a must to show the world that the music was strong enough to carry the band on its own. Kiss managed to pull that through and in my opinion, so does Ghost.
Me myself, as the Mercyful Fate-fan I am, was blown away by the satanic verses on the debut “Opus Eponymous” as they were very “Danish-sounding” to say the least. Sadly, that part of the Ghost-sound disappeared quite quick, and instead of focusing on odd and evil riffs, Ghost went all in on writing catchy melodies, becoming a bit of a cross over between Abba and Blue Öyster Cult, even though keeping a certain occult mood in the melodies and occasionally spicing it up with an avid hook here and a diabolic riff there.
Of course there is no sign of a return to the debut’s wonderful Mercyful Fate-pastiche, when Ghost of 2018 releases their new album, but instead there is a walk further down the road of more accessible and poppy songs. A road which, thanks to Forge’s obvious sense for writing catchy songs, have given the band so much success, even outside the more stiff-necked hard rock audience.
With “Prequelle” the last remains of the earlier occult framing has been washed away, even though it makes a short return in the lyrics of the great song “Pro Memoria”. Instead, it ‘s full focus on catchy choruses and easy listened verses and apart from the total Scorpions-worship (Scorpions early nineties, that is) in “Dance Macabre”, where I’m almost fooled to believe that the legendary Klaus Meine actually participates in the verses, the album offers very few surprises.
The album is at its best in the bitter-sweet song “See the Light”, where I guess Tobias really put his feelings about the past years struggling with old band colleagues in plain sight and although I’m not a giant fan of Forge’s slightly nasal voice, I shiver in delight every time I hear the part where the clean singing cracks, albeit only a tiny bit, at the end of the song’s first verse.
The other songs also hold a constant high standard, except maybe for the second(!) instrumental song of the record (not including the intro “Ashes”, as it actually contains some small parts of children’s choir), “Helvetesfönster” which feels like it runs a bit low on fuel.
Any yawns due to that song are however quickly forgotten when the delicate “Life Eternal”, after the toll of a sole church bell, continues and finishes the album, leaving you, craving for more!
Although I personally long for the more guitar based sound of “Opus Eponymous” I have no doubt that Ghost, with “Prequelle”, once again have managed to write an album that will charm the already convinced and even lure more souls to the already large fan base! There is surely great hit potential in the songs and if you like the albums before this, you probably will like this. For me though, I would have loved some of those unexpected melody changes and odd riffing of yore, with that, “Prequelle” would have really reached for the skies!
Label: Loma Vista Recordings/Universal Music
Date of release: 1/6-18
Playing time: 41,43
Stand out track: See the Light