"Opus Eponymous" is the debut album by Swedish heavy metal band, Ghost. It was released in 2010 on Metal Blade Records and produced by Gene Walker. The line-up for the album was Papa Emeritus (vocals), Nameless Ghoul (guitar), Nameless Ghoul (guitar), Nameless Ghoul (bass), Nameless Ghoul (drums) and Nameless Ghoul (keyboards).
There are many bands out there with gimmicks – Kiss with their make-up, Slipknot wearing masks, Gwar with elaborate alien costumes – and Ghost (or Ghost B.C. in the US) is one of those that puts a unique spin on making and playing music, as the vocalist, Papa Emeritus, appears with a mask that has a skull painted on it and a priest's robe and hat, while the rest of the band are Nameless Ghouls, appearing in public with black hooded robes and masks and each wears a different alchemy symbol, representing air, fire, water, earth and ether. The album is a tale of dark and angry moods, and, according to a Nameless Ghoul, is "about a coming darkness, an impending doom." Ghost is reported to be a satanic band but it is more about the gimmick, once more. So fear not, and the lyrics you are about to see are not to be taken seriously. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The album begins with a 93-second instrumental that is an eerie number played on the keyboard. It is likely meant to signify the beginning of Ghost as a band, but also indicates it could be the end of a life, as in a funeral dirge. It sets the mood for the album quite well and it also gives inkling into what the band has in store for the listener over the course of the next half hour or so.
Con Clavi Con Dio
The song's title is in Italian and roughly translates as "With Nails With God". It is a song about praising and worshipping Satan, with Papa Emeritus letting the listener know that Ghost is here and ready to give their lives for the evil master. The song starts out with a funky bass line which is very reminiscent of Geezer Butler and Black Sabbath. As soon as the impressive guitar riff, drums and keyboards kick in, we get a taste of Papa's vocals for the first time. The majority of people probably thought that the ears would be subjected to unfathomable death metal vocals but this is far from it, as he is quite an accomplished singer. It is pretty obvious that the band has taken influence from Sabbath, but there are also tones of Iron Maiden in the guitar playing, especially with the classic chugging riffs. It is a pretty solid song and has a great solo riff near the end, which is followed by haunting chants.
We are here
For your praise
Our conjuration sings infernal psalms
And smear the smudge in bleeding palms"
The song has a different kind of atmosphere to the previous track, in that, lyrically, it is not as demanding on the Satanism aspect, and musically, it is more of a poppier number than its predecessor. It sails along at a steady pace and would not sound out of place in the 1960s when bands were singing about flowers in the rain, good vibrations and the sunshine of your love. Of course, it's obviously heavier than anything put out in that decade but when you have a chorus which sounds like this one does, you know you're on to a winner. The combination of the instruments is what makes the song click, and it is definitely a fan favourite.
"Our fallen angel vexed
Was banished from the sky
Recite now from the text
Pray for all to die"
Here is a song about the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, aka the Blood Countess. Bathory was a serial killer who lived from 1560-1614 and bathed in the blood of her victims as she was of the impression that it would help keep her youth. The first thing to note of the song is that the production is excellent, with a nice mix of the guitars, drums and keyboards, putting forth the bass on a level with everything else. The song seems to have that winning formula that is very hard to create in the music world these days, in that it is catchy but not too catchy that it will get overplayed. There is a great guitar solo halfway through in which the mixers cleverly change from that great blend to an atmospheric and almost eerie backdrop, before bringing you back into the main part of the track again.
"Underneath the moonlight of old Hungarian skies
Buried in the blood-drenched earth
These barren lands of ice
She was an evil woman with an evil old soul
Piercing eyes emotionless
A heart so black and cold"
Stand by Him
The track begins with a mid-paced drum beat, quickly followed by the main guitar riff which will not fail to have the listener tapping along. This song has some good interchanges in between riffs and hooks, but once again it is the chorus which encapsulates its audience, and if that is not enough then the organ sound with its haunting melody is another piece of this puzzle which seems to effortlessly fit together. The song ends with a nice little guitar solo riff outro and when it completes, it is hard to imagine that it had been playing for almost four minutes.
"A moon shone bright above her trial
As flames ate through her body defiled
The witch hammer
Struck her down
Through our Sabbath
She is unbound"
The song comes in with a spatial guitar strum that sounds like something Hawkwind or Rush would do. The main bulk of the track itself is another of those pop-laden melodies that, as much as you will try to shake, you probably won't be able to. Though that said, it does have a little of the flower power effect to it, which brings the listener full circle to the 60s again. The most interesting thing about the song is the excellent bass line that one of the Nameless Ghouls is playing, especially in the bridge when it seems to be a free-for-all between the bass, guitar and keyboards that is a refreshing change from the doom and gloom of most of the song.
"Believe in one god do we
The uncreator of heaven and soil
And the unvisible and the visible
And in his son
Begotten of father"
This is a song that has Black Sabbath written all over it, as it is full of doom riffs, strange breaks and powerful riffs, as well as a timely knolling of a bell. Sabbath is not the only influence in the song, though, as you can hear a Slayer hook and a Machine Head riff, but most music is copied from one source or another these days anyway. Sadly that's where the good ends, as the song evolves into very much of the same thing heard in previous tracks on the album which is a shame, because it is at this point of an album where you need to hear something that will blow your mind.
"Say, can you see the cross?
Symbol for the goat
Of a thousand young"
This is a song about the coming of the antichrist, who is being carried by the anti-virgin Mary, posing as a nun. It goes through the motions of what she is feeling in the womb as she tries to keep her secret to herself without drawing attention to Satan's masterplan. While that description sounds incredible, the song is not that much. It starts out pretty good with a neat little interchange between bass and guitar but then it starts to get a little too repetitive. There is a lot of 70s prog rock in the song, but it is not enough to keep it interesting and it eventually tapers off long before the next song begins.
"Clad in cloak
Bearing the old one's bastard son
A varucose phallus
Obsessed and poised her
Cast a veil of dusk upon the cloister"
The album closes out in the same way it began – with an instrumental. However, this is a four-minute piece that unfortunately sounds a little too much like King Diamond to be taken seriously as one of Ghost's own, and does not really sound like the band at all. There is obviously some kind of togetherness with the Nameless Ghouls, and they appear to be showcasing their talent to all who will listen with a nice acoustic outro to complete it.
Debut albums are never easy to write and record, and if you don't get it right the first time you very rarely, if ever, get a chance to rectify your mistakes for another album. Ghost does a good job in giving their audience what they are craving, but it only just manages to captivate enough to make the listener crave more. The band's live show is where much of the hype is, though there are many high points the album has to offer. All in all it's a solid album, but it is not as strong as it could have been.
- Deus Culpa
- Con Clavi Con Dio
- Stand by Him
- Satan Prayer
- Death Knell
- Prime Mover