On June 1st, Sweden’s occult rock hero’s Ghost released their 4th album entitled Prequelle to mostly favorable reviews and fan approval. As of this writing Prequelle is hitting the Top 10 in album charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
As an avid Ghost fan who has followed the band since 2010, I have eagerly awaited this album’s release to see if it lives up to the hype. And yes, yes it does! Come along as we dissect Ghost’s latest outing track by track.
Ashes kicks off the album in typical Ghost style. A chorus of children singing Ring around the Rosie fades to a hard rocking instrumental to get you in the right headspace before Cardinal Copia and The Nameless Ghouls take you on a hell bound journey through history.
Released as the first single and music video, Rats weaves a twisted tail about the outbreak of the Black Death which claimed the lives of around 50 million people in Europe. While catchy and definitely made for rock radio, Rats lyrics run counter to the bright shiny pop sounds it elicits. If you have not yet seen the video I implore you to check it out below.
Faith is heavy and unsettling. With churning guitars and disjointed vocals, Faith proves Ghost can do heavy music when they want. And when they want, they do it well. The chorus of “I am all eyes, I am all ears, I am the wall, and I’m watching you fall “elicits images of a malevolent figure watching all of the madness and anarchy unfold.
- “See the Light”
This is by far my favorite track on the album and may replace Here Comes the Sun as my favorite Ghost song. See the Light slows everything down before ripping into the heavy guitar laden chorus. References to Holy Communion are obvious in the chorus of “Drink me, eat me, then you’ll see the light”. See the Light is a testament to the evolution of Ghost’s songwriting ability and their capability to keep it interesting. It also highlights Tobias Forge’s vocal abilities.
Ripped straight from the 1980’s, Miasma is an instrumental delight. Miasma lets Cardinal Copia take a backseat and really lets The Nameless Ghoul’s and their musicianship shine through. Listen for a Michael Jackson riff which Ghost have carefully hidden within the song. I also never thought I would see the day that Ghost included a saxophone solo on their album, but it works. Miasma is a treat to see performed live complete with the sax solo being performed by Papa Nihil.
- “Dance Macabre”
Ghost goes glam! This catchy ode to debauchery tells the story of those who partied like there was no tomorrow, because they didn’t know if tomorrow was ever going to come. But what is interesting is this particular song is steeped in European mythology. The danse macabre also known as The Dance of Death, says that Death or Death in disguise would round up various people and literally dance with them on their way to their grave.
- “Pro Memoria”
Pro Memoria is a slower track in the vein of He Is. Cardinal Copia sings about the specter of Lucifer haunting one’s mind and the reality that death comes for all mortal beings. This is a powerful song that should cause the listener to do some deep soul searching. With a repeated chorus of “Don’t you forget about dying, don’t you forget about your friend death, don’t forget that will you die” doesn’t cause you to evaluate your life choices I don’t know what will.
- “Witch Image”
Witch Image takes the listener from the soft crooning sounds of Pro Memoria and ratchets it up a notch. This song takes the user through plague ravaged Europe from the point of view, once again of Death as he rips through those affected with the sickness. Cardinal Copia dripping with just a hint of malice informs listeners that “While you sleep in earthly delight, Someone’s flesh is rotting tonight”. Another example of Ghost hiding dark lyrics
Another instrumental installment and chance for The Nameless Ghouls to shine. Some claim this track to Ghost’s best instrumental work, while others claim it is album filler. Personally, I enjoyed this track but it wouldn’t be at the top of my playlist. In doing some background research for this piece I ended up going down an Internet rabbit hole. The title translates to “Hell window” from Swedish. Apparently during the middle ages, women dressed very conservatively but their dresses had wide openings on the side, which gave men a peak at the side of their breast. So yes Ghost wrote a song about peeping. The window in the dress would also damn lustful men to hell, hence Hell Window.
- “Life Eternal”
Ghost’s closing track again implores the listener to contemplate the permanence and impermanence of life and the experiences both joyful and painful we go through. The underlying message I got from this was that nothing lasts forever and to enjoy it while we can. The line “But in your eyes, it’s gone before you know, this is the moment of just letting go” resonated deep with me to remember to enjoy the little things in life that make it worth living.
In the end, Prequlle is a solid outing from Ghost and over time I believe it will be considered some of their classic material. What sets Prequelle apart from previous Ghost albums to me, is this outing shows the growth of the band. If a band does not evolve, eventually it will lead to stagnation and boredom for fans. I was on the fence about Cardinal Copia as I have always been a Papa Emeritus disciple. But in the end, Cardinal Copia has won me over and I am enjoying the new direction Ghost is currently headed. Pick up your copy of Prequelle if you haven’t already and be sure to catch Ghost on their Rats on the Road tour.