Prequelle

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Prequelle
Ghost - Prequelle (album).jpg
Studio album by
Released1 June 2018 (2018-06-01)
Recorded2017
StudioArtery Studios, Stockholm, Sweden
Psalm Studio, Bath, England
Westlake Studios, Los Angeles, California
Genre
Length41:43
LabelLoma Vista
ProducerTom Dalgety
Ghost chronology
Popestar
(2016)
Prequelle
(2018)
Singles from Prequelle
  1. "Rats"
    Released: 13 April 2018
  2. "Dance Macabre"
    Released: 18 May 2018

Prequelle is the fourth studio album by Swedish rock band Ghost. It was released on 1 June 2018 and produced by Tom Dalgety. The album's first single, "Rats", was released ahead of the album on 13 April, and as of 28 July, had peaked at number one for seven weeks on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart. The album marked the band's strongest selling debut to date, landing at number 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 66,000 copies in its first week, with 61,000 of those being "traditional" album sales.[1]

The album's theme focuses on Medieval times and the Black Death along with more modern themes.

"Prequelle" was nominated for the Best Rock Album Grammy Award at the 61st annual awards ceremony and the Swedish Grammis Award in the category of Hard rock/Metal.

Background[edit]

Prequelle is the fourth studio album by Ghost, and the first to be recorded since the band's leader was officially confirmed to be Tobias Forge. Produced by Tom Dalgety, recording sessions began in 2017 at Artery Studios in Stockholm, while mixing began at Westlake Studios in West Hollywood in January 2018.[2][3]

Forge stated that in contrast to the "very, very lavish, stupid sort of procedure" used to record the previous album Meliora, they "streamlined down a lot of things" for Prequelle. Most of the recording was done by only he and Dalgety, thanks in part to Dalgety being able to engineer the album in addition to producing it. When they needed a drummer or pianist they simply called in a session musician who left upon completing their part. This made the whole process "very relaxed" and "focused." However, the two did feel the pressure of living up to the success of the previous album; "I just try to find some sort of middle ground where you acknowledge it but try not to be blinded by it [...] but I was definitely not caving in because of that pressure. It was not an angst-filled recording. The recording was actually very nice. It was good — we felt that what we were doing was good."[4]

On 31 March 2018, a video titled "Ghost – Chapter One: New Blood" was released on the Ghost YouTube channel as an advertisement for the album and for the new character frontman Forge would play, Cardinal Copia.[5]

Two singles were released for the album, "Rats" on 13 April 2018 (Nominated for 'Best Rock Song' at the 61st Grammy Awards), and "Dance Macabre" on 18 May 2018.[6][7]

Music and themes[edit]

Prequelle has been described as hard rock,[8][9] arena rock,[9][10] heavy metal,[11] doom metal,[8] progressive rock,[12] and pop rock.[13] The album includes 1970s and 80s influences such as, Blue Öyster Cult, Boston, ABBA, and hair metal.[14] Forge had the theme for Prequelle planned out for years, dating to even before Meliora.[4] He described the theme as "survival through a tumultuous time of your existence basically being threatened" and the concept of "death and doom".[4][2] He wanted to make a record about the Plague and the Black Death, which led to about half the population of Europe dying. But he said it also led to "mortality issues" such as memento mori and "seize the day" because the other half survived.[4]

Forge also said that it is themed around "medieval times, but it's definitely clinging onto a lot of very current things."[2] He remarked that in recent years many rock elders have died, such as Ronnie James Dio, David Bowie, Prince and especially Lemmy, which affected him much more that he thought they would; "It's made me want to be a little bit more attentive when it comes to trying to make sure that you're making the best of the opportunities that you have with your seniors. That is something that has affected me and this record a lot."[15]

The opening track "Ashes" features Minou Forge, Tobias’ daughter, singing "Ring a Ring o' Roses", a nursery rhyme said to have originated during the Plague.[16][17]

"Rats" is about something "spreading as wildfire and completely destroying things quicker than you know," like the Black Death.[2]

In another plague reference, "Dance Macabre" aims to capture a "joyous nocturnal sort of life in a disco song", such as people excessively partying because they know they are going to die.[2]

Forge wrote the string intro of "Pro Memoria" a few years earlier than this album. He and Meliora producer Klas Åhlund played with the idea of having a "sort of Brian May guitar symphony" with it on that album, but did not have the time. Feeling it would make a good start for a new song, Forge transcribed the notes from his demo, which was done with strings on a keyboard, and sent it to a conductor who recorded it in finality.[18]

The closing track "Life Eternal" asks if you were given the choice to live forever, "Would you want to do that?"[2] Forge wanted to explore the use of the piano on Prequelle, citing "Life Eternal" he said "I wanted it be very ambitious, almost classical, and the piano gives that song air and clarity..."[19]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic81/100[20]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[9]
Blabbermouth.net9/10[21]
Exclaim!7/10[22]
Hardwired4.5/5 stars[23]
Kerrang!4/5 stars[24]
Metal Hammer9/10[25]
Metal Injection7.5/10[10]
PopMatters9/10 stars[11]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[26]

Prequelle received positive reviews from critics upon its release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 81, which indicates "universal acclaim", based on 9 reviews.[20] At the end of 2018, Revolver and Metal Hammer named it the best album of the year.[27] Thom Jurek at AllMusic claimed that, "Ghost deliver fully on the promises of earlier records. Their strengths — including one for imitation — are fully assembled and focused in an exercise of irresistible arena rock excess without sounding like a pastiche."[9] Adrien Begrand of PopMatters wrote that Prequelle "subverts metal clichés; it has a strong sense of history, but at the same time it searches for new ideas within that framework" and called it "one of the cleverest heavy metal records in recent memory."[11]

Metal Injection's Cody Davis cited "Dance Macabre" as the album's best track, but found the songs that follow it to be hit or miss. He completed his review by saying "While Prequelle has its misses, there is more good than bad with this album — and those good moments are excellent and damn catchy. This is a band coming into global domination so the process is bound to have its hitches at times."[10] Joe Smith-Engelhardt of Exclaim! wrote that the album "expertly builds momentum, only to be bogged down by uninspiring tracks" and suggested that "With a bit better pacing and fewer drawn-out moments between songs, the record could have been the best of their career."[22]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Ceremony Award Result
2019 Grammy Awards (61st) Best Rock Album Nominated
2019 Grammis (Sweden) Best Hardrock/Metal Record of the Year Nominated

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleLength
1."Ashes"1:21
2."Rats"4:21
3."Faith"4:29
4."See the Light"4:05
5."Miasma" (Instrumental)5:17
6."Dance Macabre"3:39
7."Pro Memoria"5:39
8."Witch Image"3:30
9."Helvetesfönster" (Instrumental)5:55
10."Life Eternal"3:27
Total length:41:43

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from liner notes.[28]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f "Ghost Mastermind Tobias Forge Reports From Studio in First "Unmasked" U.S. Interview". Revolver. 2 February 2018. Archived from the original on 12 February 2018.
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  7. ^ "GHOST Unveil Catchy New Song "Dance Macabre" in a Unique Way". metalinjection.net. 15 May 2018. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b "With 'Prequelle', Ghost is Coming for Your Soul (Album Review)". pophorror. Archived from the original on 30 June 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018. Prequelle finds the band fusing their theatrical, doom metal and hard rock sound with an ’80s aesthetic
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