Since releasing their debut album “Opus Eponymous” in 2010 there has been no bigger hype band than Ghost. Maybe it was because they were on a tour with Mastodon and Opeth (who, for some reason, are two of the biggest metal bands today), because they never revealed their identities, or because of their strange brand of occult rock. Regardless of how they got popular, the good news is that their debut was an enjoyable record. It definitely had quite a few metal leanings, and could probably best be described as Mercyful Fate meets Blue Oyster Cult. With “Infestissumam”, Ghostcontinues that trend, but definitely sound like a band that has bought into their own hype.
The second the record opens, you are hit with the sound of huge, ancient choirs. This is nothing new for Ghost, and it actually builds into something quite atmospheric in the intro; however, it would later be used again on other tracks to the record’s detriment. The choirs definitely fit Ghost’s image, but they really aren’t necessary beyond the great intro. Luckily, the first full song opens with one of Ghost’s hardest hitting riffs, before the guitars give way to Papa Emeritus’ ghastly vocals. In general, the songs on “Infestissumam” aren’t that different from the debut; there are hard rocking songs (“Per Aspera Ad Inferi”), as well as more simplistic tunes (“Body and Blood”). Where this record sometimes gets off track is in its use of strange melodies. For example, the single, “Secular Haze”, has a carnival feel to it, which is unnecessary and takes away from the rest of the song (it does however, have some great bass guitar work). Likewise, “Year Zero” has some moments that make you think that this band could really be doing something better. This is what I mean when I say they’ve bought into their own hype; they are emphasizing new and weird elements to the band in order to push their image into more mainstream territory. Granted, it seems to have worked, but the average metal fan is likely to be able to handle the strange combination of Ghost’s music and their aesthetic. Getting back to the music, the highlight is definitely “Jigolo Har Megiddo”, which has a stomping rhythm to it. The interplay of drums and guitars almost sounds like disco meets swing. It’s got a four-on-the-floor feel, but still has a jumpy, unrestrained character. The more experimental “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” has its moments as well, but is more likely to be a grower. The remainder of the songs don’t stand out, but that works to Ghost’s favour as they’re simply enjoyable occult rock tunes.
“Infestissumam” is likely to be a conflicting record. Had the band stayed a bit more consistent and less experimental, I would certainly enjoy it more. With that said, they didn’t simply rehash their previous record. While I’m afraid of their likely future downfall, Ghost have created an enjoyable, albeit flawed follow-up.
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“Per Aspera Ad Inferi”
“Jigolo Har Megiddo”
“Body and Blood”
3.9/5 or 78%.