By Dr. Abner Mality

While Ghost doesn't fear God, they have a healthy respect for copyright lawyers, hence the slight name change to "Ghost BC". The rise of these Satanic pop metallers is maybe the whackiest success story of 21st century hard music so far. The runaway smash "Opus Eponymous" gave rise to many thoughts of "flash in the pan", including myself, but major label follow-up "Infestissumam" has made a believer out of me. What makes that a surprise is that this record is much less "metal" than its predecessor.

Whereas "Opus..." had a sizable influence from Mercyful Fate and Angelwitch still noticeable, "Infestissumam" has disposed of a lot of that. This record is much, much poppier and at its most accessible reminds me of the "bubblegum" bands of the 60's and early 70's with a harder edge. Of course, the insanity comes because these "bubblegum" songs praise Satan and are being sung by a skeletal pope supported by a band of hooded ghouls. The contrast is far more jarring here than it was on "Opus Eponymous".

Ghost are certainly wizards of the first rank because I enjoy this album even more than its predecessor. The level of pure pop catchiness on display here is nothing short of mind-blowing, but the band retains just enough of a hard edge to avoid total wimpiness. The music is an incredibly bizarre mixture of Gothic/Gregorian elements right out of a Latin mass combined with Britpop and prog elements. But the songs are just so goddamn infectious that you have no choice but to bow to Ghost! Keyboards are most prevalent here, but they can give things an epic touch and often utilize those early 70's sounding Hammond B3 tones. I, for one, love that sound.

Gruesome pontiff Papa Emeritus II has a lovely, dreamy voice without a single harsh edge, which makes it all the more disorienting when he calls the world a "swamp of feces" and compares Christians to "fools and simpletons". He's even smoother than on Ghost's previous work and the vocal hooks throughout the album are amazing. Two tracks stand out above all others. "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen" is the epic. This begins as an absolutely beautiful piano driven ballad. You will never hear a prettier or more hypnotic song talking about putrefaction and ghastly pale succubi rising from the fetid Earth. About half way through, this track takes a sharp turn into surf rock territory...the transition is sheer fucking brilliance! The chorus of "Zombie Queen/Zombie Queen/Black light guides you/Ghuleh/Ghuleh" is something you will never, ever get out of your head. The climax of this track is huge and all-enveloping. The other monster track is "Depth of Satan's Eyes". My God, that killer riff! It's the heaviest, darkest track on the album but the hooks are bigger than Mount Everest. And it's all in praise of the Devil, to boot. In fact, this album is probably even more Satanic lyrically than "Opus..."

A couple of tracks I didn't care for. "Idolatrine" didn't click for me nor did the final song "Monstrance Clock". Although both are still appealing, they didn't hold up to other memorable tracks like the jaunty "Jigolo Har Megiddo" or the Mass-like "Year Zero", both of which are again hard to forget once you hear them.

This is one of those albums that turns your whole world upside down because on the absolute face of it, it should be far too wimpy to succeed. But once you hear it, you can't help but get sucked into its dark brilliance. I won't be underestimating Ghost B.C. anymore. It looks like Satan's pop stars are here to stay.