Ghost Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Ghost are a Swedish rock/heavy metal band from Linköping, Sweden, formed in 2008 by Tobias Forge. In the last decade they have become one of the most prominent names in the industry, having released four studio albums, as well as performing arena tours with the likes of Metallica.

With the new leader appointed, Papa Emeritus IV, and a new record likely around the corner in 2021, there has never been a better time to review and rank one of music’s most creative forces, as we take a closer look into their discography, ranked! From worst to best.

#4 – Prequelle (2018)

Their most recent release, at time of writing, did a lot of things right. By attempting to go in a pitch-black lyrical direction and taking influence from pop and shock rock of the 1980s, Ghost struck a confident and catchy balance of hope and gloom contrasting throughout the record.

There are some truly incredible songs on this release, including the likes of: Rats, Faith, Dance Macabre and Witch Image, but overall the complete package left a little more to be desired. Just over 40 minutes in length but featuring three interluding instrumental tracks, I can’t help but listen to this and simply wonder, ‘where’s the rest of it?’

When this album is good, it’s incredible and boasts powerful performances from Forge and his newly assembled team of touring musicians, in a few ways it just lacks the magic of what came before.

#3 – Meliora

Without question, Meliora was a record published at the height of the band’s popularity and features some of their most well known works. Forge’s Papa Emeritus III persona remains the most well realised and well loved incarnation of the character, and everything about the younger, more sexualised, frontman fit the looser pop-oriented motif of this record perfectly.

This album is a little more guitar-driven that what was found on their previous record but, for the most part, favoured catchy melodies and pop hooks than delivering on the overt Satanic premise of what came before. Monolithic efforts in rock were created here including the almighty From The Pinnacle To The Pit, haunting Luciferian love song He Is and the Grammis award winning Cirice. If the album had a little more of songs like this and not some of the filler tracks like Spirit and Majesty, then no doubt it would rank higher. It’s a crime Zenith was left on the cutting room floor.

#2 – Opus Eponymous (2010)

Let’s preface my opinion here by saying that I believe Opus Eponymous to be one of the most important rock albums of the last decade. A winning combination of Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple combined with a Satanic indoctrination theme melded beautifully together.

What originally began life as a song for previous rock band Magna Carta Cartel, Stand By Him, is one of the greatest classic metal songs in history, in no small part are the likes of Ritual, Elizabeth and Prime Mover far behind either.

Taking a stripped back approach to rock and roll and insidiously inserting ghastly messages into it worked to an insane degree, and Opus Eponymous benefits greatly from such a strong set of songs, immaculate production and nail-biting atmosphere.

#1 – Infestissumam (2013)

With an album name that translates directly to ‘the most hostile’ or ‘the biggest threat’, there should be no confusion over the intention of this album. Defiant to its very core in opposing the Christian religion, featuring not only the band’s darkest lyrics and imagery, but also their best songs ever written.

Ditching the classic rock elements of Opus Eponymous and instead switching out to full on old school doom metal, Ghost hit their stride with anthems like Year Zero, Monstrance Clock, Idolatrine and Secular Haze. There’s an aura of evil that permeates every second of this album, and the fact that it is this memorable and melodious in the face of that, is quite frankly astounding.

The most sinister version of the band and their leader complimented by their most sinister ethos and heaviest songs, It should be no doubt that Infestissumam takes top spot on the list.

Ghost – Prequelle Album Review

The not-so Dark Ages, the Swedish metal outfit’s take on the black death.

It has been a difficult and troubling time for Ghost leader Tobias Forge in the last two years, following a very public lawsuit leading to his ghouls being fired and him taking up arms to helm an album entirely of his own vision with new talent onboard.

The resulting release is the 2018 album Prequelle which follows three years after the highly successful breakthrough album Meliora and is headed by Cardinal Copia (Forge) as the cult’s newest leader.

How does everything come together? Well in a word, polarising. There’s no doubt that what we are hearing is that of Ghost, there is the same focus on the old school sound and of course Forge’s operatic high vocals soaring across every track. However, It’s the song structures that have changed the most, as the sinister atmosphere and depth of prior records have been somewhat reduced and lost in translation in favour of more sweeping catchy choruses and conventional songwriting.

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Instrumentally, Prequelle boasts some of Ghost’s best work yet with a real influence on the technical and rhythmic side being brought to the forefront as the 1980s flare is worn on its sleeve. Ghost are no longer a band mimicking that of Mercyful Fate or Blue Oyster Cult, this is instead a whole new interpretation of the material and it is demonstrated as that of an experience, a singular flowing dark show of epic proportion.

Yet it is in that side of the presentation where some of the cracks begin to show on the record. Prequelle’s high points are some of the highest that the band have ever reached before, case and point; Rats, Dance Macabre and Life Eternal taking center stage as quintessential songs from the band that can stand on their own as flawless metal tracks in their own right.

With that said, the songwriting takes a severe hit in the lyrical department. Unfortunately, the backstage drama of the last two years has crept its way into the songs on this album too in a way that is difficult to look passed. See the Light is about Forge coping with people giving him abuse online and tarnishing his reputation following the accusations brought up against him and it is presented in quite an unpleasant way where Forge is almost adding insult to injury.

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This is a different Ghost and this is very much Forge’s vision now wholly, he stated in interviews that the album would tackle a lot of dark subject matter and would do it whilst being bright and optimistic at the same time; wearing its heart on its sleeve and with a tongue firmly planted in cheek.

What we have here is a fantastic album but it leaves me wanting a lot more and asking where the other third of the release really is. There are two main instrumentals and whilst both of them are wonderfully performed, they mainly serve as roadblocks to halt the steady flow of the album. As a result, there is never a consistent tone or speed to a lot of what we hear. The release starts really strongly and winds up at the very end with a beautiful and moving closer however that still leaves the middle portion lacking.

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Pro Memoria for instance starts strongly but goes on for way too long and the instrumental lead in is used several times to daisy chain the other songs to it as if its being led up to. Yet, the song itself does not really go anywhere special in its almost six minute long run time. It’s equally as confusing when considering that it is sandwiched between the great Dance Macabre and the haunting, classic sounding Witch Image.

To summarise, Prequelle is a valiant effort that has a lot of good ideas and isn’t afraid to step out of the comfort zone and try something new and daring. Not everything pays off and the execution and questionable choices leave room for speculation, but these small issues do little to tarnish what an intriguing and catchy album that this album truly is. Sometimes when taking a bold step forward you have to take risks and not everything will pay off and I admire Ghost for taking that step, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.