Reviewing an album on one listen is rarely wise, but Ghost can do that to you. Their fourth, Prequelle, pushes the Ghost sound further into the 80s, while retaining their heavy roots. Many songs could have been plucked from the year 1986, with that kind of melodic sensibility. Remember how bands like Accept, Loudness and Kiss sounded around 1986? Lush backing vocals sound as if assembled with care by Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Guitar solos are cut from the stone of Mount Kulick. Ghost leader Tobias Forge has never hid his pop roots, and they are clearly coming further to the fore.
With a bold image and faux-Satanic lyrics, Ghost have established themselves in the upper echelons of metal today. That will only be cemented further by Prequelle. In a year that has seen brilliant returns from Judas Priest and Stryper, Ghost complete a trinity of great recent records. With a deft touch, tracks such as “Rats”, “Faith” and “Miasma” deliver hook after hook after hook. Ghost never really wimp out, although their melodic skills are sharper than ever. These songs are written straight out of the textbook, combining heavy and pop influences together in a witch’s brew of addictive audio. The limits are pushed, with an unexpected sax solo being an album highlight. They go epic and progressive too, especially on closer “Life Eternal”.
Two instrumentals do not (at all) slow down the love affair. Two covers at the end of the deluxe edition (Pet Shop Boys and Leonard Cohen) are an interesting coda. You can make good arguments for only buying the basic 10 song album, because it has a clear beginning, middle and end. If you’re the kind of person who likes staying for the end credit scenes, or enjoys having dessert, then you should check out the bonus tracks. “It’s a Sin” has the detectable Pet Shop Boys disco beats and posh swagger. Tobias Forge’s evil Leonard Cohen impression twists “Avalanche” into something darker and sinister.
However you go for it, make sure you get Prequelle this summer. The deluxe has a neat 3D cover, if that strikes your fancy.