Smoke, costumes, and Satan. What else can you ask from Swedish phenom, Ghost?
Okay, picture this: you get tickets for this little band called Ghost or Ghost B.C., whatever the hell the United States music industry uses to sabotage the band’s namesake. You don’t exactly know much about them besides the fact they make kickass shirts and walk around in costumes. After wading through an explosive, psychedelic attack from English mind burners, Pursun, you think, “Hey, this might be an interesting show, an acid rock meets Halloween-type stunt with theatrics.” Yet, then you notice that, for the first time in a long time, the concert venue is freezing cold. Incense burns at the stage corners, gregorian chants echo from the speakers, and soon, the Nameless Ghouls start ripping at their instruments. The crowd swells as Papa Emeritus — the anti-pope — cues set opener, Spirit, with Satanic madness. This is a metal show, through and through.
I was converted.
It was obvious, as soon as the doors opened, that this was going to be an interesting spectacle. Cosplayers — yes, you read that right — were scattered throughout the venue, inside and out. Shit, I don’t even know why I’m writing like that’s a bad thing. I even took some photos with a Nameless Ghoul before his inspiration started their set. Near the end of the performance, Papa himself acknowledged a well done imitation, so every other viewpoint is void. If Papa Emeritus says it is good. It is so. And so it is.
“And don’t you forget it.”
But, that’s besides the point. The crowd, for a medium sized venue, was passionate and loud, contributing to the experience with chants and sing-alongs. For instance, with little guidance, every voice echoed from the rafters during, “Per Aspera Ad Inferi,” and it was obvious the band fed from the atmosphere, especially the guitarists, who, despite being masked, produced an electrifying, but dark stage presence. It was obvious these were no ordinary, rookie musicians trying to make it big. They knew what the fuck they’re doing. Yet, we’ll probably never know their identity. Once the haze surrounding Ghost’s lore disappears, and the world decides to pick on Slipknot again, we’ll ultimately learn that Jackson Browne and Dave Grohl decided to pursue that metal career they always wanted. Don’t believe me? The latter is actually probable.
So, enough about stage presence. Who wants to read about atmosphere in a live review anyways? Let’s talk about the goddamn music! I like to think of Ghost’s sound as if 70’s pop/hard rock took a stage dive into hell. It’s odd. It’s enchanting. It’s evil as hell. The setlist moved between the band’s three LP’s, providing a nice balance between heavy, balls to the wall metal anthems, courtesy of their debut record, to mid-tempo, atmospheric movements, and Abba-esque balladry. Oh, them Swedes…You Ghost fans know what track I’m talking about. Don’t get me wrong, “He Is,” is a damn great pop song, complete with moving melodies and beautiful harmonies. Yet, it’s absolutely hilarious to see five musicians perform such an uplifting song about Satan.
There was plenty of chaos to go around, from the explosive rendition of the band’s breakout track, “Ritual,” to their closing anthem, “The Monstrance Clock.” Yes, at times the band sounded almost too good, all thanks to the playback guy doing what playback guys do. Or, is it the sound guy? There’s so many “guys” in a production. However, playback was expected. The band utilizes multiple vocal layers in tracks like, “The Monstrance Clock,” and, “Deus Culpa,” not to mention bombastic, wall of sound production in tracks like “Infestissumam.” God, I wished they performed that song. “Per Aspera Ad Infeni” didn’t feel the same without its over-the-top introduction. Anyways, you guys get the point. Ghost can’t be at fault for adding layers to the live production.
Overall, Ghost showed St. Louis why they are one of the leading modern metal/hard rock acts. They brought theatrics in a hyperbolic sense, never quite taking themselves too seriously, but pushing boundaries enough to hike up the creepy factor. It was all in good fun, a night punctuated by a classic hard rock sound, which, along with Pursun’s psychedelic introduction, provided audience members a nostalgic experience. These guys can fucking play. Go see them and bow for Lucifer’s Son!
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