Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Ghost – Rats

“[T]he group’s five instrumentalists are only referred to as ‘Nameless Ghouls'” — hey, we should credit ourselves like that on here!

Tim de Reuse: The hard-rock recreation is lovingly competent, and the reverbed hiss of “Ratsss!” could only ever have been delivered by someone who sincerely believes in what they’re doing. Past that charming lack of irony, though, there’s very little of real substance; the solos are so strictly beholden to their genre that they might as well have been composed by a neural network.

Ian Mathers: More hard rock than metal, except aesthetically, so personally I could do with a little more harshness here. But a band being deliberately ridiculous is almost by definition more enjoyable than a band that doesn’t realize it is. Of course, that’s assuming you can separate out the two things cleanly. (My favourite bits are the little harmonizing asides that put me in mind of, surprisingly enough, Teenage Fanclub.)

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “Song about the black plague that’s really about Christianity” is a concept that could’ve easily descended into arch-corny, self-serious dreck, the musical equivalent of listening to Richard Dawkins talk. It’s to Ghost’s credit that the Swedish prog gock group manages to avoid that fate on “Rats” — the song is still corny, but in a more fun, approachable way. It welcomes you in with its bombastic guitar riffs and hard-driving guitars, but the measured performance of vocalist Tobias Forge (who goes by Cardinal Copia) is what elevates “Rats” to hard rock glory. A last-second shift into a harpsichord riff is just dessert.

Edward Okulicz: Hard rock can be as stodgy as it bludgeons a listener, but when it bludgeons the listener with hooks, so much the better. I’ve had the “Rats! Aaa-oo-aaaaah!!” refrain stuck in my head for a few days now, leading me to suspect that this is a sneakily camouflaged bit of power pop given a heavy treatment. The riffs are catchy enough, albeit nothing you haven’t heard before, but I hear that schlocky organ in the background and I’m not fooled — this is a hell of a lot of actual fun.

Will Rivitz: Like one of those bright neon ski jackets, “Rats” is gaudy, bombastic, and hopelessly stuck in the ’80s, but it’s presented with such sincerity that its proggy camp is more welcoming than ridiculous.

Katherine St Asaph: I bet it’s some subconscious association with Rat Girl, but the verses really remind me melodically of Throwing Muses — there are places you could sing “Bright Yellow Gun” or “Static” over it. Drummer’s up to their standards too. Shame the chorus veers hard elsewhere, too cheesy to take seriously.

Thomas Inskeep: If Missing Persons had been fronted by a guy (someone kinda wimpy like the Panic! At the Disco guy) and been founded in the wake of Ozzy’s 1986 album The Original Sin and had a third-rate Steve Vai as their lead guitarist, they’d kinda sound like “Rats.” And if that’s not your idea of a good time — it certainly is mine — I’m afraid I can’t help you, friend.

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3 Responses to “Ghost – Rats”

  1. Ed, thanks so much for saving me from being the only person who heard power pop in this.

  2. “But a band being deliberately ridiculous is almost by definition more enjoyable than a band that doesn’t realize it”

    This seems blatantly incorrect.

  3. Guess you get more out of cringe comedy than I do. Takes all types!