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Ghost (Sweden): Popestar [EP] *

Track List

>Square Hammer
>Nocturnal Me
>I Believe
>Missionary Man

Album Notes

Personnel: Niels Nielsen (programming).

Audio Mixer: Tom Dalgety.

Recording information: Gardenia Studio, Linköping, SE.

The second EP from the macabrely debonair Swedes, Popestar finds Ghost parsing through their vestment-black Rolodex and pulling out a compelling five-track set that pairs their most commercial-sounding original offering to date with a quartet of equally earworm-heavy covers. If "Square Hammer" is indicative of what's to come after 2015's Grammy Award-winning Meliora, then fans are likely to find themselves continuing to wrestle with whether or not Ghost is a pop band disguised as Satan's little helpers or the sonic incarnation of the great trickster itself. Flush with hooks and sounding for all the world like a mashup of Savage Amusement-era Scorpions and peak Blue Öyster Cult, it's a bold blast of rock radio might, and it acts as the perfect setup for the sugary, witches cauldron-brewed stew that follows. A faithful albeit hammer of the gods-heavy rendering of Echo & the Bunnymen's "Nocturnal Me" kicks things off, followed by a deconstructed, goth-tastic take on Simian Mobile Disco's "I Believe" and a winking, UFC montage-disposed reading of Eurythmics' "Missionary Man," but Ghost save the best for last. "Bible," an ecclesiastical late-'80s power ballad from Stockholm alt-rock giants Imperiet, is shown great respect, and suggests that Papa Emeritus and his nameless ghouls may have honed their dark arts via air guitars and toothbrush microphones in front of their bedroom mirrors, emulating its muscular stadium pageantry. That is, until a sinister voice-over, which does not appear in the original version, chimes in at the end with "I will wipe from the face of the earth this human race I have created," effectively tamping down the coffin lid on whatever sorry bit of salvation the track's previous owners had managed to conjure. ~ James Christopher Monger


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