Tony The Hero has been creating 8-Bit instrumental versions of rock and metal songs for his YouTube channel for a while now, his best seeming to be songs from the band Ghost. Check out the 8-Bit version of ‘Square Hammer’ from the Popestar EP (Loma Vista) below:Continue reading →
Released on 21st August, Ghost Cult’s Album of the Month for September and now our official Album of the Year, managed, even in a year in which Slayer released a divisive selection and Iron Maiden unveiled a 90 minute double album after a five year hiatus, to dominate conversations, causing arguments and endless discussions about it’s place in their canon and Ghost‘s status in the world of rock and metal.
For a “new” act to take on the established acts for column inches and internet debate is testament to how successful the Satanic vision of the original Nameless Ghoul has been.
The band formed in 2008 with a simple mission to spread the word of Satan through the medium of retrospective rock with the devil’s harmonies carrying and subverting the masses.
“This is the album where Ghost have consolidated the tricks and tropes that drew us into their strange vaudevillian universe to begin with and the album that will hold us there for some time more. Meloria sees Ghost honing all their tricks into one accessible and often infectious package.”
Much as dream follows day, Infestissumam saw a definite evolution and movement on from Opus Eponymous, and so Meliora is a further celebration of the Ghost sound, of their continued exploration of a musical niche, adding rock opera tendencies, even, at times, grinding War Of The Worlds into the feted gristle flowing through their distinctive Satanic mills as 70’s synths flutter, guitar solo sing, and holding it all together into memorable hook-filled hymns is Papa Emeritus III.
You can throw superlatives, or analyse things to the nth degree, or you can enjoy that most special of things – an album filled from top to bottom with great songs.
And more than anything, THAT is why Meliora is the Album of 2015.
VLYis an international project brought to light by the opportunities afforded by the technology of today… a disparate and loosely connected group of musicians brought together by a series of thought processes and online links, covering the US, Britain, Italy and Sweden. The brainchild of Karl Demata (Crippled Black Pheonix), the digital airwaves brought his ideas to the ears, and subsequently voice, of Keith Gladysz and I / (TIME) (Lazers Edge) began to pull its threads together and weave the dreamcatcher of ideas that would form their debut.
With serene progressive rock as the spine, the ribs of the Frankenstein’s monster cover classic rock, lush textures, psychedelia, and singer-songwriter pop, as well as, on a track like ‘Hypnotic’, building swathes of vocal repetition to mirror the song title, while touches of Americana decorate ‘Dark Days’. The musicianship is exemplary as Italian keyswoman Elisa Montaldo steps from background adornments to the forefront and back again, with the delicate piano touches of ‘Time Remembered’ setting up the meandering ‘Silver Beeches’, or the wall of sound that accompanies the rockier and more substantial ‘Out Of The Maze’ filling and encompassing, her use of organ and synth sounds reminiscent of Richard Wright with some beautiful minor key selections and enhancements; indeed ‘Perfect Place’ is an eight minute tribute to Pink Floyd.
Playing in the same child’s playground of the heart as Tim Bowness, both lyrically and musically, VLY have found a way to marry progressive with emotive and to prove that collaboration can be successful and effective, even if carried out remotely, with individuals trusted to bring their own emotive footprint. While there are variants of style, in the main, clean guitars shimmer, Montaldo and Mattias Olsen create soundscapes to guide and Gladysz, vocally pitching somewhere between Geddy Lee and Papa Emeritus, is the hand to hold to walk us benignly through.
While several of the songs blur into one progressive post-rock psych-flecked confluence, at its best I / (TIME) is a varied and successful experiment. To truly capture the heart, perhaps emotions need to be played with more earnestly, but Demata and Gladysz should continue their experiment, for VLY should be viewed as nothing other than a success.
It is testimony to how far our favourite Scandinavian Satan botherers, Ghost, have entered the heavy metal consciousness that that much of the internet chatter regarding their latest album of curiously hummable tunes – the enigmatically titled Meloria (Spinefarm) – is magnificently divisive. Meloria, apparently, is proof of another “masterpiece” or, by contrast, it’s proof that they are blowhards and charlatans of the highest order.
When did this happen? When did the release of a new album from a band seemingly force everyone into Camp A or Camp B- that bands are either geniuses of the highest order or they are all steaming piles of horse manure?
This curious one-upmanship of “my band is more amazing than yours” can only end in a depressing ever-decreasing circle of self righteous stupidity which also belie the facts – not every record released is a classic and not every record you don’t like emanated from the stable yard.
Whatever happened to having, as Geddy Lee once put it, an open mind and an open heart?
Having set this mindset firmly in place, Meloria can be righteously ticked off as a really good album; in parts, exceptionally so. This is the album where Ghost have consolidated the tricks and tropes that drew us into their strange vaudevillian universe to begin with and the album that will hold us there for some time more. It is a lot more focussed than its expansive predecessor, the often brilliant but occasionally uneven Infestissumam (Sonet/Loma Vista) and is much closer in tone and outlook to the band’s debut the brilliant and otherwordly Opus Eponymous (Rise Above).
Earlier this year, in what has now become part of the annual ritual underpinning the Ghost circus, the band replaced – for the second time- the band’s lead singer, Papa Emeritus II, with, yes, you’ve guessed it, Papa Emeritus III. His “younger brother”, apparently. Whether you give a monkeys about this sort of thing is very much a personal choice but the new vocals sound, well, like Ghost. Plus ca change, plus la meme chose.
Aesthetically, Meliora (roughly translated from the Latin as the “search for betterment”) has many 1970s rock influences – there’s a dash of Black Sabbath here, a nod to AC/DC there and it’s all imbued with that occult-lite that they have become renowned for (and which tends to get up the nose of those who take this sort of thing very seriously indeed). Where Infestissumam decided to go on artistic flights of fancy, Meliora is a much more direct affair and one’s response to it will depend on whether one regards classic song structures and tunes a hindrance. This writer doesn’t.
As a consequence, Meloria sees Ghost honing all their tricks into one accessible and often infectious package. The Hammer horror stylised intro to the crunchy guitars of ‘Spirit’ sets the tone well – the drumming sounds uncannily like Bon Jovi’s ‘Lay Your Hands on Me’ which may or may not be a compliment, depending on your world view. ‘From the Pittance to the Pit’ is a ridiculously hummable call and response tune that will be many people’s earworm for some months to come. ‘Cirice’, the lead off song for this album is an absolute corker of a riff with all the expected tropes firmly in place; the faux satanic undercurrents, the impending sense of doom, the inveterate twinkle in the eye.
Ghost, photo credit- Spinefarm Records
Elsewhere, the enigmatic string led instrumental of ‘Spoksonat’ and its companion piece, the love letter to Satan of ‘He Is’ are both highly evocative, properly entertaining and ever so slightly spooky, which one suspects was entirely the point.
‘Mummy Dust’ brings the tempo and the direct aggression up a notch or two and ‘Majesty’ will have Angus Young cocking an inquisitive ear in search of the culprit who nicked that riff from his mid 80s period. ‘Devil Church’ is a playful if lightweight instrumental interlude which presages the album’s two strongest cuts – the moody heavy ‘Absolution’ and ‘Deus in Absentia’.
‘Absolution’ could easily have cropped up on Opus Eponymous, it’s all eerie and plaintive piano but with a chorus bigger than Donald Trump’s ego. ‘Deus in Absentia’ sounds like the distillation of all the tricks and lessons of Ghost to date – big chorus, epically styled structure, choir, rolling piano. I suspect that a portion of Beelzebub’s kitchen sink is in there as well. It is completely ridiculous and completely absurd. You will, naturally, love it.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that Meliora is a massive step forward on an artistic level; it patently isn’t. However, it is absolutely a record that has plenty of vim, vigour and occasional flourishes of inspiration. Meloria will not convince the naysayers but will doubtless build the Ghost congregation and, for that alone, we can all praise Papa.
Meloria is an aural pantomime for Edgar Allan Poe fans. And yes, PR guy, you can quote me on that.
On the heels of releasing their new single, ‘Cirice’, Swedish occult rock band Ghost today announced a US headline tour, dubbed the “Black To The Future” tour. The dates begin at The Fillmore in Washington DC on September 2nd, and run until November 1st in Arizona. Suppport will come from Purson. The tour will be in support of the previously announced Meliora (Loma Vista/Spinefarm) album releasing on August 21st. Tickets for the tour go on sale this Friday, June 12th at 10 AM local time.
Ghost – “Black To The Future Tour” dates
Sept 22: The Fillmore – Washington, DC Sept 23: Newport Music Hall- Columbus, OH Sept 25: Stage AE- Pittsburgh, PA Sept 26: Union Transfer- Philadelphia, PA Sept 27: Terminal 5- New York, NY Sept 28: House of Blues- Boston, MA Sept 30: Metropolis: Montreal, QC Oct. 01: Sound Academy- Toronto, ON Oct. 02: The Majestic Theater- Detroit, MI Oct. 03: The Riviera- Chicago, IL Oct. 05: Liberty Hall- Lawrence, KS Oct. 06: The Pageant- St. Louis, MO Oct. 08: The Civic Auditorium- New Orleans, LA Oct. 09: The Tabernacle- Atlanta, GA Oct. 10: Beacham Theatre- Orlando, FL Oct. 11: The Ritz- Tampa, FL Oct. 13: House of Blues- Dallas, TX Oct. 14: Aztec Theater- San Antonio, TX Oct. 16: Sunshine Theater- Albuquerque, NM Oct. 17: Sumitt Music Hall- Denver, CO Oct. 19: Knitting Factory- Boise, ID Oct. 20: El Corazon- Seattle, WA Oct. 21: Roseland Theatre- Portland, OR Oct. 23: Warfield- San Francisco, CA Oct. 26: The Mayan Theater- Los Angeles, CA Oct. 27: Knitting Factory- Reno, NV Oct. 28: The Depot- Salt Lake City, UT Oct. 30: Northside Park Theater- San Diego, CA Oct. 31: House of Blues- Las Vegas, NV Nov. 01: Monster Mash Festival- Phoenix, AZ
It has only been a couple of years since occult inspired Swedish heavy metal band Ghost BC rocketed out of obscurity and cast their shadow over any similarly aspiring band in occult rock. It seems that Ancient VVisdom have also found themselves under the influence of the Swedish titans with their latest LP, Sacrificial(Magic Bullet). While the music remains largely unaltered from previous work, it’s Nathan Opposition’s vocals that have a distinct twist of Papa Emeritus to them in this release. The harsher edges and ominous harmonies have been replaced by soft reverb-doused phrasing and while the difference may be subtle, it’s unmistakable.
Opening up with an acoustic intro, Ancient VVisdom carry through the distinctly organic sound from older work. Contrasting this, the distorted guitars in Sacrificial lean heavily on chugging for many of the riffs, which although not entirely well integrated does add a satisfying drive that previous albums lacked. Many of the riffs and choruses retain a similar format, however the songs themselves do still seem to offer some surprises with ‘Blood Offering’ and ‘Devils Work’ throwing the listener into some mid-tempo riffing, while ‘I am your Sacrifice’ presents a Megadeth-esque bass intro.
Both enticing and enchanting Sacrificial captures the listener with its satisfying mixture of heaviness and melody. While the sound has certainly taken a stronger step towards the most traditional occult metal style, this record has proved it is certainly not a bad move from the band. With strong riffs, a great mix and catchy vocal melodies, Sacrificial would have the Devil himself tapping away to the odd track.
While it could never be described as a masterpiece, it is a very welcome addition to any car stereo or downtime playlist.
Ghost B.C. has positioned themselves as one of the most interesting – and polarizing – bands in music today. Not at all black metal, but with all of its satanic trappings; candy-coated pop without any the sweetness; gimmicky but presented with a conviction that is admirable. You either love them or hate them, but you know who they are. I have loved the band since the first time I heard ‘Year Zero’. Deny it all you want, but the moment you heard the choral bellows of “Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub! Asmodeus, Satanas, Lucifer!” You were caught off-guard and they had your attention. I would dare say that those who do not like them have to grudgingly admit this band takes their music as seriously as their image. But can they deliver all of this dichotomy, pomposity and schtick live?
The answer is a resounding YES. Ghost has created a sound that appeals to a broad range of rock fans. The have the melodic sensibility to corral rock/hard rock fans, the horror/punk edge that appeals to the punk rockers, and the lyrical/visual melancholy dripping with keyboards that woos the Goth crowd. Even with that mix, their music still has enough crunch and groove to appeal to many metalheads, especially those who appreciate singing as opposed to the screamers that dominate the genre. The crowd is as undefinable as the music they have come to experience, but one word that could be used is dedication. While the crowd was very respectful of the rockabilly-tinged crooning of Seattle-based opener King Dude, it was clear from the t-shirts, face paint and chatter who the throng was there for.
From the background music, to the lighting, to the incense, to the cathedral-like backdrop complete with stained glass windows, Ghost knows how to set a mood. Much credit has to be given to the attention to detail that makes you feel as if you are part of a satanic church service as much as a show, and that it’s more than just throwing on some face paint and a costume. This band is so 100% committed to their image and its presentation, even a non-fan can respect it.
The Nameless Ghouls filed onstage to the gloom of ‘Masked Ball’, and launched into ‘Infestissumam’. His Unholiness Papa Emeritus II strolled onstage and up to the microphone for ‘Per Aspera ad Inferi’ complete with his Pope-esque robe (with inverted crosses), the mitre (tall pointed pope hat), and the staff bearing the huge Ghost logo on its top. He is striking figure, and all of his movements, gestures, and speech patterns during his between-song commentary shows this man has done his Papal homework. Stoic, never headbanging, never so much as a sway or dance, he really bears himself as the role requires. The front line of Ghouls are quite animated, and interact with each other and the audience more than some reviews would lead you to believe. The band’s musicianship was tight and quite exceptional, able to nail the genre-skipping their songs demand with ease. The fans were screaming along to every word, swaying and dancing, and there was even a pit now and then. The last song performed was ‘Monstrance Clock’, and ended with the band leaving the stage to the crowd’s chanting of the lyric, “Come together, together as a one! Come together for Lucifer’s son!” I have not seen this kind of intense reverence for a band since I saw Neurosis last summer. These folks are INTO IT. And it was a damn good time.
For all of its darkness, it was fun, amazing concert experience. Even if you are not their biggest fan, do not pass up the opportunity to see Ghost live – it will be worth every penny of that ticket.