Archive for Progressive

Ghost – Meliora

Posted in Classic Metal, Doom, Hard Rock, Prog, Psychedelic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2015 by Badass and Grim


If you’re not familiar with the nameless ghouls by now, Ghost are an act who’s members perform in complete anonymity with the exception of their anti-papal frontman Papa Emeritus. Drawing musical inspiration from the diverse strands of rock and metal’s history and delivering the result through enigmatic and theatrical stage performances:

To put my cards firmly on the table: I’ve always found Ghost a difficult act to get on-board with. A synthesis of Classic Rock, Doom and Satanism looks on paper like something I couldn’t help but love, but I always found exposure to the reality wanting and overly cheesy. With the exception of “Elizabeth” and “Secular Haze” the first two albums amounted to so much “meh”. So with low expectations I hit play, and to my surprise was completely blown away by the following 42 minutes of perfectly executed rock heaven.

The album opens with “Spirit”, queue classic horror choir and theremin, before the guitars drop in and we’re away. In a lot of ways “Spirit” is a microcosm of the album as a whole, moving seamlessly between its psychedelic, proggy, and hard rock elements. We’re treated to a synchronised solo in the best of the classic rock tradition and firmly within Thin Lizzy territory.

“From the Pinnacle To the Pit” lays down the filthiest bass riff before the rest of the crew join in, with much more emphasis on the heavy metal hue of Ghost’s music. The songs middle eight demonstrates the band’s seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of catchy vocal hooks.

“Cirice” is the point where I went from surprised interest to hero worship. The verse is heavy as hell, the chorus is solid gold 80’s rock , and the solo is going to melt your face and pull your heart-strings at the same time.

After the transition of “Spoksonat”, “He Is” opens like a something from the Amelie soundtrack, before morphing into a hymn to Satan. A frankly beautiful hymn to Satan; had it been composed by Simon and Garfunkel. The chorus rings out: “He is, he’s the shining and the light without whom I cannot see; he is insurrection, he is spite, he’s the force that made me be.” These are irresistible vocal harmonies, and feels like flower-power just got svart-dyed. Again, slamming guitar solos that wouldn’t be out of place from Gary Moore.

Of all the tracks on the album “Mummy Dust” is the only one where I found my old objections rise again, with the title and chorus a little over-baked for my taste. That said, I’m a miserable bastard and don’t understand fun, so I’m sure most of you won’t be able to gobble down enough “mummy dust” if you know what I mean…on reflection maybe that was an instruction for it’s successful enjoyment rather than a title track.


“Majesty” chugs away like a Sabbath or Maiden track, but you can tell we’re building to something here, and sure enough we hit a chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on Headspace’s “Anonymous”. This is all progressive melody and uplifting guitar/organ duty.

“Devil Church” is a lengthier abridging track continuing into prog territory, very much in the vein of Focus or Rush. After this the album opens out into “Absolution”, all brooding vocals until the 3 min point when Ghost awaken the synth-lords of old, descending from on-high riding stellar space arpeggiation.

“Deus In Absentia”, the album’s closing track, is a suitable anthem to close with which I’m sure will become a staple of Ghost’s live show and a favourite sing along for the crowd.

This is the perfect execution of what Ghost seems to have been striving towards since their inception, bringing together the best elements of the root genres they draw from and presenting a synthesis which is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Meliora is a hugely positive step change in the quality of Ghost’s song writing, and it’s hard to find anything to fault with this superb album.

I can’t believe I’m about to do this:




Enslaved: RIITIIR

Posted in Black Metal, Prog with tags , , , , on October 12, 2012 by Badass and Grim

Black Metal is often seen as a style of music which is introverted and hostile to innovation, with little tolerance for those who stray too far from the accepted archetype. While this is not altogether untrue, there is another side to the genre, one which stands on the borders of Krieghelm, surveys the ripe territory of neighbouring artists, and thinks “Domination”. This side unleashes its unholy hordes on the unsuspecting plains of Prog, Post-Rock, Industrial et al, and remakes them in its own sinister image in a cruel and mighty mockery of these imperiums’ former masters. Sort of like Lord of the Rings. Ok, ok, I’m getting to Enslaved.

Ever since 2001‘s Monumension Enslaved have steadily expanded the progressive element in their music, and have forged a truly unique sound, not just distinct from other bands but with each successive album possessing a character all of its own. I have always found these to be growers, requiring my patience and perseverance, but also as having a massive pay-off for that. My first encounter with the band was 2008’s Vertebrae, which I got completely sucked into for the next two months, always finding something new with each successive listen. RIITIIR is no different in this regard.

The tracks on this album are huge (the shortest song is 5:26) without becoming stale or boring, with a practised timing, moving on from each musical idea before it becomes repetitive. The band give themselves plenty of space to explore new territory with some melodic passages which won’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with their previous two releases, while retaining an extreme undercurrent (if at points you are lulled into dropping your guard and forget who you’re listening to you’ll be rewarded with an obsidian mace to the face as Grutle screams razor-blades at you).

High points include “Thoughts Like Hammers”, “Roots of the Mountain” and “Riitiir”, although with most progressive music this album is all of one piece, and is best enjoyed as the sum of it’s parts. Although I wouldn’t recommend this to those into more orthodox manifestations of BM, this is well worth exploring if you enjoy something you can get your teeth into. Enslaved still sit high on the black throne they have built over progressive music.