The Metal Examiner: Ghost’s Opus Eponymous

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Ghost - Opus EponymousGhost: Opus Eponymous (Metal Blade, 1/18/11)

Ghost: “Con Clavi Con Dio”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Ghost_Con_Clavi_Con_Dio.mp3|titles=Ghost: “Con Clavi Con Dio”]

Sweden’s Ghost is a purposefully mysterious sextet propagating an overtly Satanic message. With a tongue-in-cheek press release making bold claims about subverting the minds of adolescents who have a “void in their life,” it’s tempting to dismiss Opus Eponymous as ironic kitsch. However, the songs themselves are wildly catchy and full of melodic twists in the school of King Diamond‘s 1980s compositions.

Themes of ritualistic Satanism and Elizabeth Bathory are metal clich├ęs at this point. It’s difficult to take claims of “evil” seriously, especially as social-networking websites and documentary films reveal more and more about bands that used to be mysterious. Ghost, however, shrouds itself in mystery; no identifying information for any of the band members has been revealed. Though it might come across as a marketing technique, it’s a wise one.

The choruses on Opus Eponymous are gloriously catchy, as Ghost uses all of the compositional tricks that hard rock developed throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Although this release is certainly metal, it also has an undeniable pop sensibility. There are pentatonic riffs and Steppenwolf-esque organs. The ritualistic Satanic shtick recalls artists like Black Widow and Coven, and passages of wobbly synth share timbres with Goblin.

However, Ghost alternates its bluesy riffs with melodies that are simultaneously epic and eerie. There is a sense of longing in the choruses, and resolution does not come quite as quickly as expected. This blending of heavy blues riffs with passages of contrapuntal melody is the trademark of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM), and was later used by King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. Though Ghost’s lead vocalist does not have King Diamond’s chops, nor his penchant for drama, he does have a similar intuition for melodic phrasing. Both favor short bursts of syllables followed by legato melodies over guitar chords playing resolving intervals. Pop song structures rife with palm-muting and memorable choruses also recall Megadeth‘s Countdown to Extinction album.

Though the line between self-awareness, irony, and authenticity makes for an interesting discussion, Ghost’s music stands on its own. If it does intend to corrupt the minds of vulnerable adolescents, it may have found the perfect blend of art and marketing to do so.

2 thoughts on “The Metal Examiner: Ghost’s <em>Opus Eponymous</em>”

  1. Vincente, this isn’t about King Diamond, you turd burglar.

    GHOST – “OPUS EPONYMOUS” – An original and true gem in a music world full of trends, cliques, and unoriginality. Let the Ritual begin!!!!

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