When reading up on Ghost in Decibel #80 my expectation was King Diamond. I know it was the facepaint and Scandinavian origins. Mention of a 7" of titled "Elizabeth" immediately then brought to mind Mercyful Fate's "Melissa" (and, for that track in particular, that wasn't too far off). Add to this the article's suggestion of Watain, Repugnant and Enforcer as potential feeders for this "anonymous" group of mystery musicians and I was convinced this would be a decent, but pretty predictable record. I was wrong.
James Fiend nailed it. And I'll use way too many words overwriting it. Ghost bring something entirely unexpected to heavy metal, first and foremost an utter lack of "heavy." The weight of the malevolence on Opus Eponymous, however, is almost overwhelming. I am certainly not the first (and may, in fact, be the last) to compare Ghost to Blue Öyster Cult but that is indeed the most fitting equation out there. There is a melody and a beauty to this record that facilitates infiltration of the listener's sensibilities much more effectively than even the most powerful combination of screaming guitars and wails.
Opus Eponymous is full of riffs - and, thankfully, plenty of bass - and easily places itself in the same aesthetic realm of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Witchfinder General and the like but is certainly nowhere near doom metal by any means. Musically, the vocal harmonies and song structures owe a great deal to BÖC though Ghost don't merely hint at the sinister or bury it beneath science fiction storylines. Lyrically, it's firmly rooted exactly where you'd expect: the realm of all things Satanic. Track-for-track it's rock-solid throughout and really demands a listen as a whole in a single sitting. Bookended by grand instrumentals, this is an old-school album and deserves to be enjoyed as such.
Ghost has packaged a complete experience here. They're a "mystery band" (who, in fact, may well be someone you never knew anyway - remember Orion?). They've got a great look, a kick-ass logo (a metal must) and, above all, a sound unlike anything else currently out there. At just under 35 minutes, Opus Eponymous is barely an LP and I'm already ready for more. Here's hoping the mystery - and magic - last a little longer.