ALBUM: Ghost – “Infestissumam”
LABEL: Loma Vista Recordings
GENRE: Dirty Hippy Satanist Retro Rock
The most important thing to remember about Ghost is that they probably were always likely to disappoint us in the long run. Opus Eponymous, 2010’s tremendously catchy and intoxicating debut, had the benefit of surprise and seemed to have been a record a long time in the making. The combination of the exhilaration of something new with song writing that stuck—like the mighty “Elizabeth” or “Ritual” or “Satan Prayer,” laden with sickly sweet pop sensibility—made the album completely intoxicating.
Enter Infestissumam. I have commented elsewhere that harder than writing a great record is writing a follow-up to that great record, and Infestissumam is a confirmation of that. While the album starts off strong with Gregorian chants about Satan and two pretty strong tracks “Per Aspera Ad Inferi” and “Secular Haze,” the album begins to taper off. “Jigolo Har Megiddo” sounds like The Misfits but without the urgency and energy, while “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” is probably the record’s low point, dragging on for four minutes before getting interesting.
The record continues as such, vocalist Pappa Emeritus sounds fantastic, and there are definitely catchy and even excellent moments, but songwriting really leaves a lot to be desired. Where the band’s previous record seemed to channel ’70s metal, this one seems to have only channeled a ’70s love of hash and lava lamps. While Opus Eponymous was not particularly dangerous sounding, the production and playing was heavier and less derivative of ’70s rock. Infestissumam simply lacks a punch to go with the catchy melodies and cheesy organs. It should also be noted that the mastering job on this thing is really quite bad. Not only does the record sound flat and kind of muddy, but it’s overloud and peaks at times. While this is a common problem on modern records, I find it to be very distracting and frustrating. More success should not equal worse production.
Regardless of why, however, it’s hard to deny that this album suffers from a lack of the same kind of energy that Opus Eponymous had and while many songs fall into the mediocre category, Infestissumam suffers from the band’s first bad songs in the form of “Depth of Satan’s Eyes,” “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” and “Jigolo Har Megiddo.” It’s a shame, because there are moments and I admit the album has some growing qualities. But the underwhelmingness underwhelms.
Get behind me, Satan.
♠ Recommended Tracks: Secular Haze / Year Zero
Review by: AMG