Album review (Halloween edition)

Lance Jenson, Student Writer

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Halloween is here, and what better way to celebrate the day than some rock n roll? With friendly, spooky music by Billy Cobb and another one of Ghost’s ritualistic masterpieces, these two selections give listeners a chance to experience something new, yet still as ghastly as the classics.

Picture taken from https://www.albumoftheyear.org/album/161885-billy-cobb-halloween-iii.php

Billy Cobb – Halloween III (Oct. 2018): The predecessor to 2019’s Halloween IV (previously reviewed here), Billy Cobb’s Halloween III is a playful EP that captures the campy energy that has made Halloween I and II the humorous staples of Cobb’s discography that people know to this day.

Halloween III opens with “Welcoming the Leaves,” an autumnal display of cliche. A 42-second intro built around fall imagery with mentions of “harvest” that is almost immediately followed by the “reaper.” A simple track to set the EP’s tone.

Up next plays “Howling at the Wind,” a rock track based on the simple werewolf story. The guitar work is something to appreciate and really is what keeps the listener reeled in because aside from the lyrics as plain as the vintage horror movies they were inspired by, the only other point of interest is the humorous bridge.

The next track, “Evil” is a simple acoustic riff that continues with a basic, repeating chord progression that works well for a song just over two minutes long. Although the song itself speaks of a larger figure influencing a young victim into joining the paranormal, the real evil comes from the following song, “My Toilet Is a Portal to Hell.” This is by far the best track on the album, wherewith a high-energy, punk rock vibe, Billy Cobb sings of the demons that haunt him from within his bathroom, specifically those banished to the depths of his toilet. A very humorous, and at times profane, track coupled with the fast tempo of punk rock will always make for a good time.

Bringing a finale to the EP is “I’m a Mummy Wrapped in Your Love,” the 1950’s-esque rock and roll banger that sounds like a novelty song straight out of that era. The repetitive lyrics that mention the title numerous times make the listener feel just as though they walked into a Buddy Holly concert on Halloween. The entire style of the song embraces 50’s rock like no other and is a great addition to any Halloween playlist.

Billy Cobb’s Halloween III is a short, sweet, and right-to-the-punch EP that embodies the basics of Halloween in just four songs and an intro. The lyrics, while spooky for the time-being, were meant to be on the light-hearted side. The variety of sound is a nice surprise considering the limited amount of music and sells the album for what it’s worth.

 

Overall, this album deserves a 6 out of 10.

 

Favorite track(s): “My Toilet Is a Portal to Hell”

 

Picture taken from https://www.reddit.com/r/Ghostbc/comments/8bvkcr/ghost_prequelle_high_res_album_artwork/

Ghost – Prequelle (Jun. 2018): In Ghost’s latest album, the exploration of the occult is no stranger. With social commentary that uses the praise of Satan in the most elegantly ironic and theatrical way possible, Ghost shows the world what they really have to offer in this 80’s-influenced rock/metal act. Prequelle is one of the greatest albums to hit the shelves in years, and while it’s meant to be a year-round experience, there’s no shame in associating Halloween with a band where the lead singer went through “anti-Pope” character phases, is now currently playing a “Cardinal” character of their fictional church, and is accompanied by a band of “nameless ghouls,” all of which are identified by alchemical symbols.

To begin the haunting experience, Prequelle starts with the eerie echoes of a child singing a variation of “Ring Around the Rosie” in the intro track “Ashes.” The intro leads into the album’s first single, “Rats.” As if “Ashes” wasn’t creepy enough, the immediate following of “Rats” suggests the theme of the black plague, a theme that follows the entire album. The guitar tones of “Rats” are very reminiscent of the band Poison, who peaked in the late ’80s/early ’90s, yet the drums sound like something unique to Ghost. This is definitely a result of the band’s decision to focus on the sound of that decade.

As a follow-up to the theme of death and disease, the band goes back to their satanic image with one of their heaviest songs, “Faith.” The hard impact of the instrumentals intertwines with the ghoulish ways that singer, Tobias Forge, displays himself and juxtaposes his melodic tenor. “Faith,” like much else in Ghost’s catalog, is another expression of the music’s connection to Satan and his criticisms of society’s established religions. The ironic use of the sacrilege continues with “See the Light,” a softer alternative to what the record’s shown so far. In this song, the devil’s influence is examined through the use of biblical imagery and twisting it to show what power deity figures really have.

Returning to the plague theme is “Miasma,” an instrumental followed by disco-influenced hard rock hit “Dance Macabre.” The former is a five-minute adventure that allows the nameless ghouls to show off in their ability to play, even with new character Papa Nihil laying out some hard facts on the sax. The latter is the second single off the album and is by far one of Ghost’s most infectious songs, in rhythm, guitar, and melody. Death becomes very apparent as “Dance Macabre” describes lovers in their final moments feeling its “sting” in the way they kiss. This, alongside the mentions of “bewitching” the person (or people) in question, fortifies the idea of Satan sending himself to take over.

In darkness similar to that of “See the Light,” the sixth track on the album, “Pro Memoria,” is another ballad that vouches for the certainty of Satan’s presence, as “Memoria” is a five-minute reminder that death will always be imminent. In the eighth track of Prequelle, “Witch Image,” confirms that death is the only absolute, and encourages the audience of the song to remember that death is near “like your father in Hell.” “Witch Image” has some of the most timeless guitar parts, as well as one of the lightest, yet impactful, melodies that the album has to offer.

Track nine and ten close the album, with nine being the mythical “Helvetesfönster” that instrumentally prepares the listener for one of the most beautiful songs Ghost has put out, “Life Eternal.” The latter puts the fragility of life into perspective as lovers say their last goodbyes while questioning the true consequences that immortality has. This piano and organ-centered ballad sees one of the best uses of a choir to repeat the phrases “forever” in a call and response style chant, something that emphasizes the Devil’s attempts to lure people into the endless cycle of immortality.

Ghost’s Prequelle is one of the best albums to come out in recent years, and while no two Ghost albums are as alike as they seem, it still holds itself to challenge the others in terms of what their “greatest” truly is. The concept of the black death and Satan’s presence within it is a thematic concept that absolutely screams Halloween. As with any of their other albums, Prequelle is a piece to not miss out on ever, let alone just over the Halloween season.

 

Overall, Prequelle gets a 9 out of 10 from me. 

 

Favorite track(s): “Faith,” “Witch Image,” and “Life Eternal”