Keep It On Wax: Ghost – Meliora Deluxe Vinyl Box Set
Calling all audiophiles! This one’s for you. The vinyl revival is well and truly upon us and now’s as good a time as any to raid your parents’ collection and dust off the turntable. Stay tuned for our verdicts on the latest and greatest pressings.
Deluxe Scandinavian Vinyl Box Set
Behold! Lucifer is reborn and his unholy children are here to present his domination of man. Meliora is calmer, tighter, direct and to the point, as if to say “Beelzebub is back, and you may join him or be destroyed”. As such, empires willingly fall under his influence to the tune of Ghost’s contemporary take on classic metal with doomy undertones. The complexity of this band and the mysticism they’ve created is fascinating, proving once and for all that they’re so much more than the sum of their masks.
It’s a great record, and one that looks and sounds even better on vinyl. There’s a handful of different versions out there, including this box set limited to 5,000 copies worldwide that’s loaded with lots of ghoulish goodies.
WHAT DO YOU GET?
When you see this set, you immediately get a sense of the level of care Ghost have put into the visual side of their project. This awesome piece of kit comes in a sturdy black box with a debossed inverted cross in the centre. Its highly stylised, dystopian-like design and silver-gloss finish make for a striking display piece that’s emphasised by the black background, which is surprisingly resistant to smudges.
Inside the box is a large, sturdy matte poster of Papa Emeritus III proudly surrounded by his Nameless Ghouls; three glossy photographs of the band in a black envelope bearing a religious insignia; a 16-page art boo; one copy of the album on black 180 gram vinyl; and a bonus track titled “Zenith” pressed on a separate 10-inch single. Meliora’s cover was just begging to be seen on a scale larger than CD, and the vinyl release reveals so many more intricacies that you’re not going to find on any other version. Put simply, it’s beautiful – chaotic and a little horrifying, but beautiful.
“Zenith” is pressed on semi-transparent yellow vinyl and includes the radio edit of “Cirice” on its B-side. It’s pretty similar to the other cuts on Meliora, albeit with a lead piano line and complex vocal layering, and still exudes the ominous tone synonymous with Ghost even though it’s a slightly more laid-back affair.
Finally, the art book is an absolute sight to behold – ten 30×30 incredibly detailed sketches that correspond to each song on the record. Meliora marks the point in Ghost’s lore where a demonic darkness has enveloped the world, and Papa and his Ghouls have taken control of mankind. As such, each drawing portrays the fall of humanity at the hand of Ghost and their imposing presence over all corners of the earth. You can spend hours listening to the music while attempting to deconstruct the meaning behind these drawings, and how they fit into the band’s narrative.
HOW’S IT SOUND?
Meliora is an album that was made for vinyl. With its ‘60s/‘70s classic rock tone, broad dynamic range and bass-heavy tunes, the vinyl version pulsates from the turntable with pure power. The bassline of “From The Pinnacle To The Pit” stomps on your chest and vocal melodies on “He Is” shine bright and clear, while wall-of-sound moments like “Absolution” are delivered with clarity. Every instrument is clearly defined in the mix and presented with a natural warmth that complements the classic rock tone. This is a very clean pressing with little-to-no evidence of compression, over production, crackle or warping. “Zenith” is similar, but the radio cut of “Cirice” sounds downright awful compared to the album version. Flat, loud and distorted with none of the dynamic beauty of the original, it’s worth bypassing altogether – although it is an interesting example of what can happen to songs when they’re remixed for radio play.
Unfortunately the Meliora box doesn’t come with a download card, so you’ll need to find your own digital copy if you want to add it to your smartphone, iPod or computer.
This is a beautifully presented package which embodies everything – the music, the aesthetics, the lore – that makes Ghost such an intriguing band. Aside from the “Cirice” radio edit, there’s really nothing else to fault, except perhaps the album colour. There’s nothing wrong with black vinyl, but a coloured pressing would have been the cherry on top of this lovely little cake. Nevertheless, the Meliora set looks great, sounds great, and should be in the home of anyone willing to fall at the mercy of Papa Emeritus III.
Meliora is out now through Spinefarm/Caroline.