Ghost - _Opus Eponymous_
(Rise Above, 2010)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (8 out of 10)
Who said Satan can't be radio friendly? Ghost's debut album _Opus Eponymous_ begins with the lines "Lucifer / We Are Here / For Your Praise / Evil One". From there, it continues into a 40 minute long exposition into topics concerning human sacrifice, dark magic and servitude for the devil. Satan has never been that far from the arena of heavy metal, but Ghost's debut teaches us that a penchant for evil can be melodic and downright catchy. _Opus Eponymous_ culls the highlights of heavy metal, classic rock and Satanic pop into a mysterious darkhorse vying for a spot in this year's top 10.

It is difficult to grasp Ghost. Their recent and loud entrance into the metal world has been met with as many questions as praises. Part of the fact is that there seems to be little information attached to this merry band of ghouls. The style of blending harmony and dark lyrics is nothing new, as Ghost has been compared to previous artists such as Mercyful Fate and Arthur Brown. Furthermore, some people are under the impression that behind Ghost 's cloak of mystery lies one or all of the members of the Dutch band, The Devils Blood. This mystery is exacerbated with the outlandish costumes worn by the members and the fact they feel no need to break character.

Despite reservations surrounding the band, Ghost's music is nothing less than a spectacular debut. Each song has a memorable chorus and set of lyrics professing undying service to darkness. One of the highlights of the album is "Ritual", which boasts the chorus "This chapel of ritual / it smells like dead human sacrifice / from the altar...". It is a chorus which could possibly be a forgotten Hall and Oates single if left in a coffin to rot. This disconnect between the commercial nature of the music and the hilariously dark lyrics is one of Ghost's strongest attributes. The nature of dark music has progressed to the point that the torture of the voice is no longer effective. In its place lies consonance, melody and infectious pop sensibilities.

_Opus Eponymous_ shares, in many respects, similarities to Coven's 1969 _Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls_. Both debut records presented dark evil wrapped in unmistakable commercial pop. _Opus Eponymous_, however, feels more devoted to Robert E Howard than Anton LaVey. Witches, demons and sacrifice are presented with more horror shock than sincere devotion. The idea and image of worshiping Satan feels more important. I could be wrong however, and Ghost could be hiding in my closet, waiting to do malicious harm for my insolence.   It is odd to put so much support into a new band. A spectacular debut could lead to a disastrous or unmemorable follow up. I also write this review with trepidation, as one of my first reviews on this site comes with a glowing recommendation. I fear less for my professional credibility and more for the fact that Ghost will reach a smaller audience. For now, I will trust in the power of red robes, an undead pope and the haunting melodies of arena rock; played from the ninth circle of Hell.


(article published 8/12/2010)

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