Ghost are one of those bands, where you can say any of their albums is your favourite, and I would totally get it. The first one has the raw charm, the second one has the diversity, the third one has the heaviness and this fourth one has the fun factor.
2018’s Prequelle is probably my own personal favourite Ghost album to date. While it is very close between this and its heavier predecessor, Meliora, this one over time has just pipped it to the post.
It starts out, after the plague-themed intro, with the lead single ‘Rats’ which has the catchiness and driving power of Queensryche’s ‘Walk In The Shadows’ but with Ghost’s trademark camp, pomp and flair. There’s also ‘Faith’ which is one of the heavier tracks, a mid paced stomper, with verses that wouldn’t be too out of place on Metallica’s Black Album, but all of the keyboards, stop/start patterns and religious themes make it distinctly Ghost.
Along the way you’ll find numerous excellent tunes, with catchy choruses, succinct and memorable structures infused with the sounds of ‘70s prog, ‘80s pop and late ‘60s proto metal mashed up with Queen style showmanship. They wrap all of this up in a loose, ‘lets reflect on death’ theme, disguised as a Black Death era concept.
For me best song on the record, (and contender for a place in the top-5 Ghost songs ever), is ‘Pro Memoria.’ It is a jaunty, Songs From The Wood-through-to-Stormwatch-era Jethro Tull influenced, tempo shifting, joy of a song. The main lyric ‘Don’t you forget about dying, don’t you forget about your friend death, don’t you forget that you will die to’ pretty much summarizes the whole memento mori vibe of the entire record.
Other highlights include the superb instrumentals ‘Miasma’ & ‘Helvetesfonster’ which are injected with the sounds of Camel and Wind And Wuthering-era Genesis, the former of which also boasts a ridiculously catchy sax solo.
When I first heard of Ghost, it took me a long time to accept that although Papa Emeritus looked like a demonic zombie pope and all the lyrics and artwork were based on horror movies and religion, this wasn’t a black metal band. There was a mental disconnect and cognitive dissonance that took a while to get over. Once I got the band’s retro sounds converted into catchy perfectly formed pop rock formula however, I was totally in love.
This album is another fine addition to the Ghost back catalogue and while not their heaviest effort, more than makes up for it with ear pleasing melodies, jaunty rhythms and heaps & heaps of good old-fashioned fun.