Meliora (album)

Meliora (Latin for "the pursuit of something better") is the third studio album by Swedish rock band Ghost. The album was produced by Klas Åhlund and released on August 21, 2015.[1] The album was generally well received, placing on several music publications' lists of the best heavy metal albums of the year and winning Best Hard Rock/Metal Album at the 2015 Grammis Awards. Lead single "Cirice" won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. In September 2016, the band released a special edition of the album, called Meliora Redux.

Meliora
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 21, 2015 (2015-08-21)
RecordedJanuary 2015
StudioEastWest Studios, Hollywood, California
Riksmixningsverket, Stockholm, Sweden
The Village Studios, Los Angeles, California
Ameraycan Studios, Hollywood, California
Genre
Length41:35
LabelLoma Vista
ProducerKlas Åhlund
Ghost chronology
If You Have Ghost
(2013)
Meliora
(2015)
Popestar
(2016)
Singles from Meliora
  1. "Cirice"
    Released: May 30, 2015
  2. "From the Pinnacle to the Pit"
    Released: July 17, 2015
  3. "Majesty"
    Released: August 7, 2015

Background and recording

Ghost began crafting their third studio album, the follow-up to 2013's Infestissumam, at the end of 2014.[2] The impetus for its "futuristic" theme came to a Nameless Ghoul a month or so prior to starting the Infestissumam tour. While trying out a new guitar rig during a rehearsal, the Ghoul created a "spacey echoed" effect that made a guitar riff sound "futuristic [and] sci-fi". At this point, he had the idea for their next album.[3]

A Nameless Ghoul said that, because guitar took a backseat on Infestissumam, the band focused on guitar riffs from the beginning of the new album. He explained that part of this was achieved by having four different guitars, each played through three different amps, making four performances going through 12 amplifiers. They used two Gibson SGs, one from the early 1980s and the other from the 1960s; a 1962 Gibson Les Paul; and a Fender Telecaster.[4]

Discussing the selection of Klas Åhlund as producer, the Ghoul said that despite his reputation for working with pop singers and having never produced a heavy metal band before, Åhlund had many of the same musical interests as Ghost.[4] A band member also said, "I definitely think that we got a lot of ideas and a lot of new angles that we wouldn't have had, had we worked with a more established rock producer".[5]

A member of the band said that the pre-production, writing and arranging of Meliora took a long time, not allowing for the luxury of recording any non-album songs with the exception of "Zenith", which was left off the main album but added as an extra track to a limited edition.[6]

Tobias Forge later explained that he and Åhlund spent three months on pre-production before going to Los Angeles where they recorded the drums with a session drummer. Upon returning to Stockholm they had a "very, very lavish, stupid sort of procedure" in a large studio with multiple people coming in and going or just hanging around, of which he said "On one hand, you think it's good for morale to do that, but no, it wasn't, evidently, in the end."[7]

Themes and composition

Musically, Meliora has been described as heavy metal,[8][9][10] doom metal,[11] psychedelic rock,[8] progressive rock,[9][12] hard rock,[10][12][13] and pop rock.[12] Following their debut album Opus Eponymous, which is about the coming of the Antichrist, and Infestissumam, which is about the presence of the Antichrist, Meliora's main theme is "the absence of god". A Nameless Ghoul said, "The lyrics deal with the void that happens when there is no god, when there is no one there to help you. But even then, there will always be some fucker there to give you guidance. And the band is basically portrayed as the religious party that comes in there with a guiding hand. We offer the one place in the world that is spiritual".[4] A member of the band also said that it was "more about the modern man and woman in their pursuit of purpose in life. It's hard to live in a society if you're not willing to buy that you are in a collective, yet usually in the Western world, there is a big disregard for individual responsibility".[14] The album's title, Meliora (Latin for "the pursuit of something better"), matches the theme of the lyrical content and "the backdrop that we wanted to paint in front of which we're playing these songs, basically, which was supposed to be, or is supposed to be, a super-urban, metropolitan, pre-apocalyptic, dystopic futuristic thing".[15]

Although Ghost used choirs on their previous album, they had a lot of issues doing so. This time, the band decided to go the extra mile and spend the necessary money. A Nameless Ghoul said, "There are a lot of mellotron choirs on there because we wanted it to feel [a] little bit synthetic and simulated. The choir symbolizes the gothic element that comes in all of a sudden".[16]

Opening track "Spirit" utilized the "futuristic [and] sci-fi" guitar riff that gave a Nameless Ghoul the idea for the Meliora album.[3]

A Nameless Ghoul called "From the Pinnacle to the Pit" a "truly stomping riff-based song, Led Zeppelin-style" and "something that would sound great coming out of a car stereo in an American high school parking lot".[17]

"Cirice" was originally conceived together with "Devil Church", which was its opening, as a very dark and doomy nine-minute instrumental without a chorus. After working on it further at the urging of Åhlund, a chorus materialized and the two parts were split.[18]

The song "He Is" was written in 2007. The band tried recording it for Infestissumam, but after attempting to get it to "sound like Ghost" and adding and subtracting aspects, ultimately put it on the shelf. Upon starting pre-production for Meliora, they added "He Is" to the list, and after praise from Åhlund, recorded it as it was.[18] A Nameless Ghoul told Loudwire that the lyrics to the song were influenced by the suicide of Selim Lemouchi, guitarist of The Devil's Blood, who was friends with members of Ghost.[19]

Discussing "Majesty", a Ghoul said, "Lyrically, it's on one hand a hymn about the dark lord of the underworld. On the other hand it paints a picture of a swarm of people, whom in a world of complete disaster, idolizes an authority that is clearly looking down upon them. How to love something that hates you back."[20]

Promotion

On May 29, 2015, Meliora's artwork and track listing were revealed to the public.[21] The song "Cirice" was released as a free download from the band's official site on May 31. A music video for the song, directed by Roboshobo, premiered on June 8. The song "Absolution" was released for streaming on July 31.[22] A music video for "From the Pinnacle to the Pit", directed by Zev Deans, was released on September 14.[23] During the Black to the Future tour, the band recruited local female fans to dress up as nuns and play "Sisters of Sin" while serving alcoholic beverages during each show. During a concert on October 6 in St. Louis, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm served as a Sister of Sin.[24] Ghost performed "Cirice" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 30, during a Halloween-themed episode, marking the band's first television appearance in the United States.[25] A lyric video for "He Is" was uploaded on November 9, 2015.[26] In September 2016, Ghost released a special edition of the album, called Meliora Redux, which included "Zenith" and the Popestar EP.

Reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.6/10[27]
Metacritic78/100[28]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[12]
AntiHero Magazine[29]
GIG Soup100%[30]
The Guardian[31]
Metal Forces7/10[32]
Pitchfork6.2/10[33]
PopMatters[34]
Sputnikmusic4.3/5[35]
Stereoboard.com[36]
Western Herald9.5/10[37]

Meliora received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 12 reviews.[28] Thomas Woroniak of AntiHero Magazine said, "Ghost come out on top offering a compelling addition to the overarching message of self-determined freedom with a well-crafted album that rocks harder than ever". He also added that the album "delivers more of a modern edge with sharper teeth when compared to its predecessor, while maintaining continuity with the overall evolution of the band’s characteristic sound".[38] Montreal Rampage described the album's sound as "a peculiar hybrid of Sabbath-like metal, and progressive rock".[9]

Meliora won Best Hard Rock/Metal Album at the 2015 Grammis Awards, marking Ghost's second win in the category.[39] It was named one of the best metal albums of 2015 by several publications, including Rolling Stone,[40] AXS TV[41] and LA Weekly.[42] Metal Hammer named it No. 13 on their list of 2015's best albums in any genre.[43] Readers voted it the Best Metal Album of the year at the fifth annual Loudwire Music Awards,[44] while Loudwire themselves listed it second.[45] Revolver also named it the second best album of the year in hard rock and heavy metal.[10] The song "Cirice" won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.[46] Loudwire ranked the same song as the second Best Metal Song of 2015.[47]

Meliora was certified platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry in November 2016, for sales of 40,000.[48] The album debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart, with an estimated 29,000 copies sold in its first week.[49]

Track listing

All writing credited to "A Ghoul Writer" in the booklet. Actual writing credits adapted from ASCAP.1[50][51]

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Spirit"Tobias Forge, Martin Persner5:15
2."From the Pinnacle to the Pit"Forge, Klas Åhlund, Persner4:02
3."Cirice"Forge, Åhlund6:02
4."Spöksonat" (Ghost Sonata)Forge, Åhlund0:56
5."He Is"Forge, Åhlund, Persner4:13
6."Mummy Dust"Forge, Åhlund, Persner, Gustaf Lindström4:07
7."Majesty"Forge, Persner5:24
8."Devil Church"Forge1:06
9."Absolution"Forge, Åhlund, Persner4:50
10."Deus in Absentia"Forge, Åhlund, Johan Ingvar Lindström5:37
Total length:41:35

1Band members also used aliases for their actual writing credits: Forge is credited as "A Ghoul Writer", and Persner as "Indio Marcato".

Personnel

Charts

Chart (2015) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[53] 20
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[54] 41
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[55] 21
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[56] 23
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[57] 9
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[58] 6
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[59] 1
French Albums (SNEP)[60] 28
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[61] 19
Irish Albums (IRMA)[62] 65
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[63] 2
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[64] 1
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[65] 14
UK Albums (OCC)[66] 23
UK Rock & Metal Albums (OCC)[67] 2
US Billboard 200[68] 8
US Top Hard Rock Albums (Billboard)[69] 2
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[70] 2

Certifications

Region CertificationCertified units/sales
Sweden (GLF)[71] Platinum 40,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References

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  2. "Ghost B.C. To Release Third Studio Album in 2015". Loudwire. December 30, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  3. "A Nameless Ghoul From Ghost Talks 'Meliora,' Touring + More". Loudwire. August 24, 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  4. "Nameless Ghoul Talks Ghost's New Album, 'Meliora,' and Staying Anonymous". Guitar World. July 28, 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  5. "GHOST's Nameless Ghoul Says Religion Remains 'A Big Problem' In Today's Society". Blabbermouth.net. July 23, 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  6. "GHOST Is Contemplating Recording New EP, Says Nameless Ghoul". Blabbermouth.net. November 21, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  7. "GHOST's TOBIAS FORGE Reflects On Recording 'Meliora': 'It Was Very Lavish And Stupid'". Blabbermouth.net. June 7, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
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  9. "Ghost's Meliora is Sabbath Metal Meets Prog Rock". Montreal Rampage. Jean Vachon. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
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  13. Jurek, Thom. "Prequelle – Ghost | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2019. Prequelle, the band's fourth album delivers on the hooky hard rock promise of Meliora...
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