Swedish shades Ghost have a truly rare sense of theatricality. Identities carefully concealed behind elaborate costumes and personas, their stage show greatly enhances the ritualistic aspect of their infernal occult rock aesthetic. With so much delighted pomp and circumstance at the fore of their creative process and performative style, it can be easy to question whether Ghost are substantial or merely artful ectoplasm.
Their third record and strongest since their debut, Meliora does an excellent job of putting those doubts to rest. Deeply catchy and deliciously Satanic, the record exists at the intersection of an Aleister Crowley ritual, a Mercyful Fate riff and a haunted organ playing itself at midnight. The vocals of Papa Emeritus' third incarnation fit perfectly in with the smooth, smoky '70s aesthetic they have cultivated, sweepingly powerful with just a little bit of the sweetness of incense. The songwriting is again potent and infectious, from the throbbingly irresistible chorus of "Cirice" to the pyrrhic decadence of "Deus in Absentia."
Ghost isn't for everyone; they are deliberately, deliciously over the top and unapologetically dramatic, but if you dig their smoke and mirrors, then Meliora is just the indulgence you've been craving. (Loma Vista)