When they first emerged on the scene in 2010, Sweden’s Ghost really did seem to have that certain something, the x-factor that only the great possess.
Their beguiling mix of Blue Öyster Cult and Mercyful Fate, as evinced on tracks like Ritual, really did seem to offer a glimpse of something more than what they became.
What they’ve become, of course, thanks to some frankly vulgar public exchanges of dirty laundry last year, is just another group of chancers relying on schtick to get ahead. Ghost’s ‘Unmasked’ album, Prequelle, sees them now dragged back unceremoniously to the rock peloton, forced to trade blows with the great unwashed in a fight to the death for the ever-diminishing fan dollar, shorn of all mystique and revealed, as we all are eventually, to be very much mere mortals.
Maybe I’m reading too much into matters litigious, but Prequelle sounds like a hurried album, one last attempt at paydirt before the whole house of cards comes crashing down in a benighted courtroom somewhere. The album is forty one minutes long – slim enough by today’s bloated standards – but a full twelve and a half of those minutes are given over to the intro and two instrumental tracks, one of which (Miasma) sounds like a Kansas outtake from the mid eighties whilst the other, Helvetesfönster, fails to reach even those giddy heights. This doesn’t seem to be the work of a band that’s come prepared to fight for it’s life with a career-defining, genre-destroying album.
It’s not all bad – opening track Rats carries a whiff of genuine excitement, reminding the ears of what all the fuss seemed to be about at the start of the decade, whilst Dance Macabre opens with a splendid riff and then morphs into a slinky late-seventies flavoured disco/rock number that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Night Flight Orchestra album. It really gets the toes tapping, and contains one of the best guitar solos you’ll hear all year. But is that enough?
Probably not, and certainly not for this reviewer. However the band’s future pans out now, Prequelle will surely be seen as the work of a band in turmoil, and whilst that circumstance sometimes forces the hand of the artist to deliver a classic, it hasn’t done so this time.
Prequelle is released on June 1st though Spinefarm Records, Loma Vista Recordings and Caroline Australia.