Opus Eponymous (Rise Above)
The six members of the mysterious new Swedish band Ghost have three tricks up the sleeves of their hooded robes: textbook retro proto-metal in the style of Rainbow, early Alice Cooper, and, especially, Blue Öyster Cult; the robes and air of mystery they operate under (no names, no bio, and the lead singer performs with a death’s-head paint job on his face); and Satanism.
It’s all pretty quaint, really, compared to the uproar that these same antics would have caused in the 1970s and ’80s. Songs like “Satan Prayer” (“Believe in one god do we/Satan almighty”) and “Death Knell” (“Six six six/Evoke the king of hell”) sound more like shock-rock nostalgia than anything genuinely scary, particularly when those lyrics are wedged in among music as catchy as this. What saves the 35-minute Opus Eponymous from its gimmicks is the band’s impeccable taste for hooks. “Genesis” is a sweeping power-prog masterpiece of synth pomp and twisting guitar leads; “Ritual,” with its pop chorus surrounded by guitar riffs that would have been state-of-the-art in 1987, recalls both BÖC and Swiss devil-metal pioneers Mercyful Fate. It’s all very obvious, potentially very silly, and utterly irresistible.