April , 2013
Review by Vinny Cecolini
Label: Universal Republic
Ghost B.C.'s Infestissumam is as infectious as the Black Plague, and almost as devastating.
The band out of Sweden's sophomore release has been eagerly anticipated by the metal community since its 2010 debut album Opus Eponymous brought this unholy union to the world's attention. The group is known for its complete anonymity, extreme style of dress (which includes masks, blackened cardinal robes, skeleton face paint, etc.), dark lyrics - and surprisingly accessible rhythms.
Although Opus was well received, many metalheads believed its success was a fluke. Infestissumam easily proves those elitist skeptics wrong.
Be forewarned! A few laps around the tracks are needed before the sound finally clicks, but that's what makes the new release so vexing. Instead of spewing out a bundle of songs in the cookie-cutter mold, each offering is unique in its own twisted way.
Whereas the stitches connecting Opus Eponymous were visible, Infestissumam's tracks make up a Frankenstein of musical body parts. With its mixture of Gothic choir, eerie guitar riffs, hypnotizing keyboards, and the phantasmal falsettos of lead singer Papa Emeritus II, the latest album juxtaposes the horrors of hell with the elegance of heaven.
The first snippet sounds characteristically Ghost, but then the album takes a dramatic turn into another ring of the inferno. The beat slows and a discordant melody flows rhythmically from each ethereal verse.
"Secular Haze" is a perfect example of the mysteriously engrossing tune for which Ghost is infamous for. Implementing an old-metal feel with a dash of perverse pop, the unnerving song reflects the band's skeletal attire. It stimulates a reaction of euphoric proportions, making those metal goose-bumps prickle and arm hairs bristle.
Any inkling of repetition was destroyed by "Ghuleh / Zombie Queen." Waltzing in, I fancied myself a Ghost expert of sorts. As I listened, I scribbled a few notes, and made a few connections among certain elements that repeated in each track.
A few verses later, my assumptions were on the rocks. By minute three, my theory was splattered on the wall like a Jackson Pollock painting. The clever devils had thrown in a surf-rock transition that would make the Beach Boys proud, somehow gracefully maintaining their dark foundation while shredding a killer wave-chasing beat.
At that point, Ghost had me in its clutches, and my chances of escape were looking grim. The death blow came at the end with "Monstrance Clock." The paralyzing whispers morphed into a swaying mantra that neatly tied up all loose ends, and sent the listener to the morgue.
As you may have guessed by now, I consider Infestissumam the release to beat all releases, but it does take a dedicated listen to comprehend what the nameless ghouls are trying to express. Let me give you a heads-up.
At first, you may experience a disorienting sense of dread, simply because your conventions have been challenged.
Second, you'll slam the pause button and vow never to touch the computer again.
Third, somehow Ghost will tiptoe into your subconscious - a tap of the foot here, a head nod there - then you know you're doomed.
Lastly, you'll be foaming at the mouth, and falling asleep to "Year Zero."
Truly, Infestissumam left me completely baffled, entranced, and hungering for more. Like a gateway drug, after you listen to it once, you're hooked.