The hype machine is a funny thing. It’s amazing how out of nowhere a band or even an entire genre of music can get a sudden surge in popularity. It builds and builds until at some point people either get bored or find the new thing to jump on. In the case of a band that gets unwanted hype, it’s fun in the sun normally ends when enough people question why they even bought into it. Enter Sweden’s Ghost.

In 2010, the band released a 3 song demo, a 7” for the song Elizabeth, and then finally their debut record, Opus Eponymous and out of left field shot up to super stardom seemingly overnight. Blending the eerie bluesy rock styling of Blue Oyster Cult with the theatrics and lyrical themes of King Diamond, Ghost was a refreshing take on the throwback sound that has been dominated by either Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Hendrix worship. Their popularity that grew exponentially after jumping on tours with Trivium, Inflames, Mastodon, and Opeth in the year following the album’s release to the point they were put in 2 hour headlining spots when the band barely had 50 minutes worth of material. Although it’s been over 2 years since the release of Opus, the band felt rushed to get back into the studio and complete the follow-up, mostly so they could get back out to headlining shows with a proper amount of material.

This is where Infestissumam comes in. Before it was even reported that Ghost was going back into the studio, general haters of the band already chalked them up as a one album wonder and were about to go away as quickly as they came. The traditional “sophomore slump” was expected and according to a few reviews I read prior to getting a chance to listen to it, it seems this record is not as widely accepted as its predecessor. Whenever an album I enjoy gets mixed reviews, it seems to entice me more to check it out.

While I feel that Opus Eponymous was a fantastic sound and a much appreciated approach to the throwback sound, I feel that Infestissumam is the album they were meant to make. Opus was able to latch onto a signature sound and its rawness really threw you back to the days of Agents Of Fortune or Fatal Portrait, however I always felt they could bring a little more to the table. That’s exactly what they did with Infestissumam. For the most part it’s exactly the Ghost you expect except with a much bigger and cleaner production. Musically it’s much more diverse while still being able to maintain the overall BOC/KD worship. Songs like Ghuleh/Zombie Queen that blend a creepy melencolin piano intro with ghoulish surf rock is the type of diversity I was talking about. Then in Year Zero, you have the best song the band has written thus far. The effective use of the choir belting out the names of the devil with one of the catchiest riffs I’ve ever heard creates an atmosphere that is going to be hard to compete with. I’m sure with the horror movie like presence that the band has on stage, this has to be a highlight song of the setlist live.

I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone is going to dig this record. It’s a bit of a departure from the previous record but not enough to convince those that hated it to come on board. It also will drive some of the fans of the first record away because it did lose that rawness that was part of the charm of the first album. For me, this is one of the front runners for my favorite album of the year. Since I picked it up, it’s been a constant go to album for me and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The band is rumored to be going on tour with the Deftones and Avenged Sevenfold this fall, so with the mainstream fan base of that tour, Ghost is only going to get bigger and I, for one, embrace it.