Ghost has gotten an awful lot of hype over just the last few months, beginning with the praise they received from Darkthrone's Fenriz. The band essentially came out of nowhere and are one of the hotter bands right now. To go along with that sudden hype often comes scorn though and the backlash has started over the last few weeks or so.
I have heard this album a couple of times now and I have to say that I absolutely love it. I would have liked to have heard it earlier though so their place in my top albums of the year would have been clear. They would have likely come in somewhere in the Top 5.
I have read a lot of comments comparing the band to Mercyful Fate, but I think this is seriously misguided. The atmosphere of horror and darkness probably could be compared to that of Mercyful Fate, but I think the band sounds a lot more like 1970's rock bands such as Blue Oyster Cult, a group I have enjoyed for a long time. Many of the songs sound as if they could have easily been recorded by the same band as recorded "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "I Love the Night", "Death Valley Nights", and "Nosferatu".
Ghost's music is driven by heavy, doom-laden guitar riffs. The music is extremely infectious and often sticks with the listener after hearing it. The vocals too are very impressive. The singer, none of the band members are named as of yet, utilizes a clean tone almost all of the time. His vocals soar over the stunning riffs and catchy melodies.
Obviously, the aspect that gets the band so much attention is the lyrical content. Billed as Satanic ritualistic lyrics, they are clearly meant to capture attention. It is rare indeed for a metal band who sings about the kind of topics found on this album to also feature such stunningly clean vocals. Despite this, it does not feel like a gimmick to me. This band is serious about what they do, and they do it all very well.
I was looking very much forward to hearing this album after the hype machine began running. It is even better than I expected it to be. This is a great album.