After three years, Ghost have released their fourth full-length album, Prequelle. After how much I enjoyed their previous work, Meliora (2015) especially, I had high hopes for the new record, but ultimately I believe my expectations were a bit too high for their new project. The album features several high points, but many low points as well and the low points are indeed very low. The album is based around the main themes of disease in the middle ages, the destruction of civilization and of course Satanism.
Prequelle opens with “Ashes”, a track that ultimately has no impact, no vocals from The Cardinal, except some children singing, “Ring a Ring O’ Roses” and it does not accomplish anything. It tries to set the themes, but at the end of the day, every other track does this so it leaves me wondering how it even made it on the record. “Rats”, the first single they released leading up to Prequelle kicks the album off to a good start, with a multi-faceted message. It features harsh vocals, exhilarating guitar riffs and their usual, superb delivery. “Faith” continues the record, and begins with some great riffs and vocal delivery. It’s probably the high point in the record, in my opinion which is very unfortunate because it’s only the third track.
“See the Light” is so boring and after listening to this record over five times, I just skip it when it comes on. I get that Ghost is speaking an anti-Christian message constantly but this sounds more whiney and less fierce than usual There’s no guts to this song whatsoever. Ghost is supposed to be a terrifying and unsettling group but honestly, as a Christian, to me this song just sounds extremely weak and unintimidating. “Miasma” is another instrumental track, so nothing to say on message here. It sounds good and is delivered well until the saxophone comes in. That is probably the lowest point Ghost has ever reached on any album to date. It does not fit the thematic elements being portrayed in any way. “Dance Macabre” sounds like a pop song that you have listened to many times before. It’s not terrible sonically, it’s catchy and it’s fun to sing along but when you pay attention to the lyrics, it’s just another love ballad that you’ve heard a thousand times before. I want to love you, one last time, until we both die; I get it, Ghost.
There’s something to be said about message on this record. I believe they communicate in a decent manner, they just can’t portray it effectively, and as a record with apocalyptic themes, it just shouldn’t sound like this. “Pro Memoria” is an especially low point after you get past the lovely strings in the beginning. I find the lyrics unapologetically drab when Cardinal Copia says, “Don’t you forget about dying. Don’t you forget about your friend death!” It’s beaten into you with Ghost’s own scepter and it sounds so exhausting.
“Witch Image” is definitely not as bad as the previous few tracks. It has a nice sound, the vocal range is pretty impressive and actually was pretty unsettling for me. Ghost succeeded very well on Meliora (2015) with their enticing Satanism and this song reminds me of that record. “Helvetesfonster” is yet another instrumental track that doesn’t really differ from “Miasma”. “Life Eternal” is a really interesting song but I’m on the fence. It’s quite repetitive lyrically but the keys near the closing of the track are very beautiful and they work so well in that song.
Tobias Forge has shown he knows how to blend music and message well in the past but refused to execute it or honestly couldn’t execute it on this album. I still stand by Meliora (2015) to this day as a masterpiece and this new album is leagues below their previous full-length. The highs are high but the lows are extremely low, and unfortunately there are way more lows than highs. I started to do a breakdown of each track but honestly the album doesn’t deserve that much decryption because there’s not that much below the surface.
GHOST TOUR DATES
JUN 15 – DOWNLOAD PARIS – BRÉTIGNY-SUR-ORGE, FRANCE
JUN 21 – GRASPOP – DESSEL, BELGIUM
JUL 12 – RESURRECTION FEST – VIVEIRO, SPAIN
JUL 14 – DYNAMO METAL FEST – EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS
AUG 03 – WACKEN OPEN AIR – WACKEN, GERMANY
NOV 16 – THE FORUM – LOS ANGELES, CA
DEC 15 – BARCLAYS CENTER – BROOKLYN, NY