'Prequelle' by Ghost album review by Adam Williams for Northern Transmissions

Loma Vista Recordings




If there’s a more metal topic than the black plague, the apocalypse and…errrr…saxophones, then I want to see it, because formidable metallers Ghost have conjured a record that’s absurdly outrageous; ‘Prequelle’ pivots on the bedrock of all things associated with the devil’s music but with some added twists and turns that seem poles apart from headbanging and cut-off denim. Whilst there are riffs aplenty – doses of widdily widdily solos are strewn across Ghost’s fourth opus – this is an album that embraces elements of disco, jazz, swooning strings and fleeting medieval nuances. All of these combined makes for a record to be filed in the prog-metal-pop-Robin Hood section of your local music shop.

Cinematic is the word, ‘Prequelle’ is the epitome of theatrical and grandiose, it’s scale is baffling and in some cases a bit silly, although it’s all good fun. Take the 80’s pop-metal of ‘Misama’, with its fret-frazzling solo, cheesy synth textures and a liberal dollop of sax. ‘Pro Memoria’ is bookended by a lavish orchestral arrangement that wouldn’t be out of place on a Jurassic Park soundtrack and an outro of choral disembodied voices. The track’s filling compromises of an over-wrought dash of prog metal that has more in common with Pink Floyd than it does Slayer. Recently unveiled band leader Tobias Forge (up until now Ghost held a mysterious anonymity) anthemically trills “don’t you forget about dying/don’t you forget about your friend death/don’t forget you will die” – a true hallmark of a metal album but played out to the sound of lush strings rather than chugging guitar carnage. “Someone’s flesh is rotting tonight” is the choice lyrical hook from ‘Witch Image’ where anthemics are cranked to the max – you can almost picture the pyro lighting up the stage when this one gets wheeled out as part of the band’s live shows. It wouldn’t be an album about the plague without mentioning those grubby critters that carried the disease, the aptly titled ‘Rats’ does the job just fine. “Them filthy rats are still coming for your souls” apparently. Danceability isn’t something you’d associate with a metal record but Ghost have found the room to squish in ‘Dance Macabre’, a fist-pumping, ramble rouser of grandiose magnitude. Another palm-clenching moment comes via ‘See The Light’s exaggerated stylings, as Forge declares “every day that you feed me with hate/I grow stronger” like the utterings of a colossal super- villain in a Lord of the Rings style cinematic blockbuster. The album’s other instrumental moment comes courtesy of ‘Helvetesfonster’, a sprawling, behemoth that begins like a medieval banquet before ramping up to an epic synth-laden finale.

Epic, anthemic, preposterous; all hail Ghost and their deranged histrionic ways!

Words and Thoughts by Adam Williams