GHOST B.C. play the Opera House May 6. See listing. Rating: NNN
Since Ghost's masterpiece of a debut album came out in 2010, the Swedish doom metal band has had its ups (global success, signing to a major label) and downs (forced to add "B.C." to their name in North America, album delays after U.S. CD manufacturers refused to press Infestissumam due to its blasphemous artwork).
But this is the sound of an assured, unscathed band incrementally evolving. Led by vocalist Papa Emeritus II (supposedly a new member, but rumoured to be Papa Emeritus from the first album - and with identical clean, soaring vocals), the five hooded and anonymous musicians take their melodic soft metal in a proggier, poppier, more polished direction.
Gone are the debut's tough, hooky guitar riffs, bare-bones arrangements and songs that stirred our black hearts. Instead, lush synths, over-the-top Satanic lyrics and creepy choral backups dominate, upping the cartoonish factor. A few songs drag. Though not nearly as stunning as its predecessor, Infestissumam still has excellent moments, many courtesy of the rhythm section.
Top track: Ghuleh/Zombie Queen