Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Swedish Disco Reunion

Album Review
If You Have Ghost - Ghost

Ghost, known as Ghost B.C. in the US for marketing purposes, is one of my favorite bands around now. They're a doom metal band from Linkoping, Sweden, and have a generally satanic theme, mixed with lyrical themes or transcendence, temptation, and self-identity. Having been to two of their live shows, I can say it's a hoot to see whether or not you're into metal. They're great fun, and have an excellent stage presence.

Now, on to the album. If You Have Ghost is an EP, their first if you don't count The Early Rituals. It's an interesting album, as its five tracks include four oddly-chosen covers, and one live recording of the song 'Secular Haze' from their previous 2013 LP, Infestissumam.

The titular track of the album, If You have Ghosts, is a cover of a Roky Erickson song. Roky being heavily into the experimental rock scene, I can see why Ghost would cover it, since they're going in the same direction, especially with this album. Overall, the track is strong. It has a hopeful, yet melancholic tone, similar to most Ghost tracks. This is really the standout track of the album, and it confuses me that it's the first one. Everything else on the album just kind of pales in comparison.

The second track is a cover of I'm A Marionette by ABBA. ABBA, being one of Sweden's most famous music groups, does kind of call on Ghost to do a cover, or at least some sort of homage, and I can see why Ghost would do it. The lyrical themes of the original translate well to Ghost, since it's about being a puppet of some greater force (read: under the control of Satan). However, as a track, it kind of falls short. It doesn't really do anything new, it doesn't call out to anything or anyone in any way. Kind of the low point of the album, along with the next track.

The third track is an Army of Lovers cover, specifically, their song 'Crucified'. Now, this track is straight-up confusing. First, it's a cover of Army of Lovers. Another Swedish band, more dance music. But Army of Lovers, in all honesty, was pretty bad, even for their time. ABBA at least kind of deserves a cover, but Army of Lovers? What? Suffice to say, Ghost doesn't really do anything new with this track either. Sounds all too similar to the previous track, but maybe that's just the Swedish dance infusion.

The fourth track is a cover of Waiting For the Night, by Depeche Mode. I have to say, I hate Depeche Mode. Can't stand it. Ghost made me like a Depeche Mode song. This track is pretty good, but again, sounds like what I've heard plenty of before from them. I like that this track at least sounds a bit more like a mix of their first and second albums, rather than the expansion-pack feel of the rest of the EP. The instrumentals are at least a little heavier, but the vocals easily dominate the track, same as they have ever since their second album, Infestissumam, was released. The track isn't bad, but like the previous two, really doesn't do anything.

The fifth and final track is a live recording of 'Secular Haze', the only Ghost-original track on the album. It closes out the album well enough, providing a fun alternative to the studio version of the song. That's about all I can say about the song itself, it's a pretty good song as it is. Hearing the crowd roaring as it starts reminds me of the shows I've been to to see them, and it's evidence that they want more people to go out and see them live. It's nice to round out an album with something a bit different, but I can't help but feel like they could've chosen a more 'final' track to the album, like, I don't know, the first track? Oh shit, I just questioned Dave Grohl, I better shut the fuck up.

Altogether, the album provides something a bit different, but not different enough to stand out, other than in an awkward "Hey guys look over here" way. I don't mind the album, it's an EP, so whatever, as long as Ghost's full length albums aren't dance and electronica covers, it's cool. Not a strong release, kind of lackluster, but at least having more good than bad.


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