Opus Eponymous (Latin for the self-titled work) is the debut studio album by the Swedish heavy metal band Ghost. It was released on October 18, 2010, on the independent record label Rise Above. It was released in North America on January 18, 2011, and in Japan on April 6, 2011. The album was recorded in the band’s hometown and produced by Gene Walker. Opus Eponymous was nominated for a Grammis Award. The Japanese release contains an additional bonus track: a cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”.
A band member, all of whom are referred to only as Nameless Ghouls, explained that the songs on Opus Eponymous were written in 2007 and 2008, around two years before the album was released. It was the songs that caused Ghost to become a theatrical band with their Satanic theme: “Very early on, when the material came together in the project phase before it was actually a band, when it was a logo and a couple of songs, it came together by itself because the material and the lyrics sort of screamed a over-the-top commitment to the dark side. It is hard to make that credible and really eerie. What we thought of when we heard the songs is basically a band that looks the way we do now”, explained a Ghoul. A member said that it was the song “Stand by Him” that heralded the start of the band: “while being together in another band, Ghost started when I played a riff to everybody else. I said that this is probably the most heavy metal riff that has ever existed. Then I showed them the opening riff to ‘Stand by Him’. When the chorus came to me, it haunted my dreams. Every time I picked up the guitar, I ended up playing that progression, and when I fit the words in, it seemed to cry out for a Satanically-oriented lyric. This was in 2006. When we came up with the name Ghost, it seemed only natural to build on the foundation of this heavy imagery. Within that concept we were able to combine our love of horror films, and of course, the traditions of Scandinavian metal.”
Ghost performing at Roskilde Festival 2011
The album was recorded over the course of a few weeks in a basement studio in the band’s hometown of Linköping. It was mixed and mastered by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ulver, Angel Witch) at Orgone Mastering in London. One Nameless Ghoul said “We did the whole thing with a standard Gibson SG”, and explained they were limited as opposed to their second album, “which is why a lot of the guitars sound more traditionally metal.” Another stated “We played everything through an Orange Thunderverb 50. To get a real Seventies vibe, we backed up the gain as much as possible without losing the tone or the sustain. We found that the midrange was really important as well. That’s why we used Orange amps.” Tobias Forge stated that the album was recorded with a session drummer and nothing else.
The song “Elizabeth” is about Elizabeth Báthory. The tracks “Con Clavi Con Dio” and “Genesis” are sped up waltzes.
Describing why they covered “Here Comes the Sun”, a Ghoul said “I’ve been a fan of Beatles even longer than I’ve been listening to hard rock, so it made a lot of sense.” He explained that the band selects songs to cover based on if they can adapt it into their own: “We sort of found the angle of taking that so and inverting it. And that’s something that’s sort of the Ghost recipe for doing covers, it has to be a song that has some sort of tongue-in-cheek inversion quality to it. And that song just screamed ‘cover’.”
The theme of Opus Eponymous ties in with the band’s second album, Infestissumam: “Everything on the first record was about a coming darkness, an impending doom. Whereas the new record is about something present, and literally, the new record deals with the presence of the Anti-Christ, the Devil.” The first album ended with “Genesis”, the birth of the Antichrist, and Infestissumam continues from the Antichrist’s birth onward.