Monday, June 3, 2013

Ghost B.C. Infestissumam

Ghost B.C. - Infestissumam

When listening to an album, what makes it better than others?  What makes it good at all?  Is it musicianship that is far superior to others?  Complete virtuosos of their craft?  Soaring vocals that rival that of some of the worlds most renowned and accomplished vocalists?  One could say that these things could be taken to mind when trying to identify a good album, but if this were the only criteria, there would be very few albums that would qualify. 

To me, creativity, musicianship and playability play a huge part of rather an album is good.  Is it an album that can be played all the way through with no filler or is it a singles collection stuffed to the gills with fluff enough to make a full length album? 

Today, I am speaking to a small group of people and after you have read this, you can decide if you are one of these people.  Today’s album is Infestissumam by Ghost B.C.  The band hails from Sweden, home of black metal, though this is no black metal band.  For those who know and love their hard rock and heavy metal, take Danish metal band Mercyful Fate, the vocals qualities of Blue Oyster Cult and the doomy riffing of Black Sabbath.  Add an organist and give them a creative angle and you have Ghost.  Worldwide Ghost is know as Ghost, and only in the US are they Ghost B.C. because of the existence of another band already named Ghost. For the convenience of typing, I will refer to them as Ghost as that is how they are known world wide.  

Infestissumam translates to ‘hostile‘ for you language buffs and trivia addicts.  The album is the sophomore effort by this band.  Their first album Opus Eponymous was released in Europe to critical acclaim.  It took the dark and doomy sounds of Black Sabbath and added vocals that were on par with Blue Oyster Cult’s in their classic Don’t Fear the Reaper, meaning clear clean lyrics sang rather than growled or screamed.

Infestissumam has divided the bands following.  This release is arguably less heavy than the first record, however the things that made Opus Eponymous so great are still here along with some new surprises.  

I mentioned that I am speaking to a select group of people who can appreciate this release.  Before reading further, ask yourself, can you separate from reality?  Can you listen to an album, enjoy it for it’s sound and put aside the band’s message?  For fans of bands such as Slayer and Marilyn Manson I still have your attention.  If you are unable to do this, Please put this away and read no hard feelings....I mean’re staying?  Ok, thanks for hanging on my every word, Ha!

Let’s talk first about the music of this album.  Hailing from Sweden people expect this band to be a black metal band.  They are a very theatrical band, choosing to let their music speak for them rather than their personalities.  The band collectively refers to themselves as “The Clergy”.  They play as faceless ghouls.  Six masked performers take the audience through their shows.  Five of the members play in black cloaks with black masks on their faces.  The leader of the band is a man known only as Papa Emeritus.  He dresses in a Cardinal’s outfit and a skull mask hiding his features as well.  

The album opens with the track Infestissumam which is completely in Latin and sounds very much like beginning of a heavy metal mass.  The song fades directly into drums, bass and guitar riffing of “Per Aspera Ad Infiri” translating to “the hard road to hell”.  Each song on this album is catchier than the one before it.  A rather vaudevillian organ glosses over the top of the album giving it a dark and sinister feeling.  The album then goes to the first single titled secular haze.  If you have not hear this band before, this is a good starting point.  Beginning with a circus-like organ that is then combined with the rest of the band, you will find yourself singing along rather you know the words or not.  The vocals are thin but they are richly complemented with harmonies.  

Ok, let me say that while this album was rated as one of the top 10 albums to hear of 2013 by Spin magazine, let me tell you the only questionable thing about this album is the lyrics.  This is why I made mention of being able to separate the overall sound of an album from their message.  The lyrics all revolve around Satan and Satanism, not in the LaVeyan sense but rather in the horror movie sense of the coming of Lucifer’s son to destroy the earth and reward his followers.  I might mention here that the band’s ultimate goal is to make a horror movie in the form of an album.  I doubt they are any more serious about this than the actors in Roman Polanski’s brilliant film Rosemary’s Baby.

The entire record follows a theme which is a continuation of the previous album, but a completely different style.  This album is rich in creativity and catchy as can be.  You will find yourself humming the choruses of each song all the time rather you want to or not. 

I do not in any way condone the lyrical content of this band, however, I find them no different in content than Marilyn Manson, Slayer,, Black Sabbath or any other band that is a common name today.  This band is resurrecting the classic sound of heavy metal from the 1970’s rather than the galloping guitars, blast beats and RAWRGROWLHOWLGRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWLLLL!! that has become common in many bands today.  These bands are sort of dime a dozen to me and sadly when you have heard one, you’ve heard them all.  This is just my opinion, however.  I am sure that others would disagree.  What I do know however is that this band has a retro sound that also sounds completely modern.  The playability and creativity is there rather they focus their talents on a message that you agree with or not.  This may just very well be the album of the year for me, although there are several months to go before my final list will be complete.  

Lets talk tech specs of this album.  There are several versions available.  There is a 10 song cd, a deluxe edition containing two additional songs, one of those being a cover of I’m A Marionette by fellow Swedes ABBA (who knew that when the disco was removed, there was a good song in there?!!?!?!?!).  There is also a vinyl version available too.  
For those familiar with the loudness wars, the cd versions as well as the MP3 are bricked and hard limited with no dynamics.  The vinyl is cut from a different master and is dynamic and clear.  In the US, is pressed on standard weight red vinyl with one of the album labels being the uncensored art that many disc makers would not press.  

Overall, this is a solid release showing growth and change from their debut album.  This is not a sophomore slump by any means.  It’s theatrical metal.  This could stand on it’s own as a very good horror movie, but decide for yourself.  Pick this one up and give it a listen.