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Album Review: GHOST B.C. Infestissumam

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It's somewhat disarming that, in an era where bands are forced to deliberately misspell (PyyramidsCHVRCHES) or omit vowels (VYGRMSTRKRFT) from their names in order to avoid cease-and-desist letters from groups with similar sobriquets, a modern Swedish sextet had the guile to believe that "Ghost" might still be on the table… in 2010. Needless to say, three years removed from their debut breakthrough, Opus Eponymous, they've taken after the Canadian troupe Bison and simply appended a "B.C." to the end of their name (at least formally).

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The changes didn't stop there.

The reinvention is played close to the vest initially, with the first two tracks proper – "Per Aspera Ad Inferi" and "Secular Haze" – not veering far from the B.O.C.-drenched boogie dominant throughout Opus Eponymous. The former song, in particular, turns out to be a sort of bookend to that album, being the only track on Infessitssumam that might be deemed "heavy" in any meaningful sense.

Papa Emeritus II (the only one of the Nameless Ghouls to shed even a vague semblance of calculated anonymity) has tempered his vocals a bit, as well, more often sounding like Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues than anything that would qualify as metal… even in the 70's sense. There's also more than a hint of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson here, particularly in the plaintive opening section of "Ghuleh / Zombie Queen", arguably the most interesting track on the album. The Hammond organ provides a swirling, carnivalesque underpinning to the art rock harmonizing of the chorus. This is for all intents and purposes an acid pop song on an album veritably full of them.

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After the initial come down of "Per Aspera Ad Inferi", Ghost B.C. quickly get down to their updated template and pretty much stay there. "Body and Blood" is straight up AM Gold, a sort of inverse to what Type O Negative attempted with their covers of "Summer Breeze" and "Cinnamon Girl", instead imagining what Strawberry Alarm Clock or Three Dog Night would sound like eulogizing Satan instead of carrying on about flower power.

It's all pretty heavy on the schtick, yes. It's also admittedly effective as hell, at least with the consistency and sheer catchiness they've brought to the table this time around. Infestissumam is a logical follow up not so much to the prior Ghost album, but rather as a spiritual successor to Ulver's charmingly faithful covers album, Childhood's End

It seems the trend is to carry occult rock further and further back into the annals of time, probing deeper into rock's infancy in search of a new Year Zero (the title of track 6, natch). Eventually we'll arrive at a Satanic form of the blues, at which point we'll be forced to acknowledge that Nick Cave was ahead of us all along.

Rating: 9/10

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Stream the entire album at Pitchfork.

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