Ghost BC - Infestissumam 12"
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It’s difficult not to pull for Ghost B.C.: During the last few years, the mysterious Swedish metal outfit formerly known as Ghost have cultivated a sterling, alluring persona of subversion and symbolism. Their leader is a papal parody named Papa Emeritus II, who comes cloaked in inverted crosses and a sinister skeletal mask. He's flanked by five Nameless Ghouls dressed in matching black uniforms that suggest Darth Vader using the force to infiltrate and overrun the Catholic Church.
Despite mounds of speculation and the exposure risk the band’s touring schedules involves, the identities of the musicians remain unknown (or, at least unconfirmed), furthering the allure of their at-large intrigue. Ghost have risen to popularity in relatively antiquated order, too, parlaying the buzz behind a single issued via social media (a move now more democratic than issuing a 7”) into a record deal and a licensing contract for the exciting Opus Eponymous, a debut that upended many 2010 and 2011 year-end lists. The old-fashioned label bidding war that followed led to a contract rumored to be as high as $750,000 with new Universal Records imprint, Loma Vista. To recap: A major label funds a band that poses as the Anti-Christ and his henchmen and plays old-school heavy metal with hooks as addictive as sin while also covering the Beatles and ABBA: Why wouldn’t you pull for Ghost B.C.?
One compelling reason to forego the Ghost B.C. fanfare is Infestissumam, the band’s mostly laughable second album. The ballyhoo for Ghost’s follow-up has been so strong that it landed them on the 100th cover of Decibel two months before it was issued. A name change, analbum cover so controversial some manufacturers allegedly refused to print it, and the fortuitous timing of the actual Pope’s early departure have only ratcheted anticipation. And though these 10 songs seem to be a logical progression from Opus Eponymous,Infestissumam all but abandons the twin senses of danger and discovery upon which Ghost once depended. This is a pop-rock record underwritten with childlike Anti-Christian sentiment; the tension between those underdeveloped directions-- surface-level darkness and near-translucent accessibility-- creates little but an insufferable stiffness.