Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #19: Ghost

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  Ghost (also briefly known as Ghost B.C. in the U.S.)
Where from:  Sweden
Years active: 2008–present
Number of studio albums:  3
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  Infestissumam (#28)

Today's Deep Cut Artist is Ghost, one of my favorite groups to emerge in the last few years.  They have made my top ten list of favorite concerts in 2014 and 2015, and they were number one on my list of bands that I saw this year at Lollapalooza.

If you haven't heard of Ghost (or Ghost B.C., as they were known in the U.S. for about a year), they are a Swedish metal band whose members remain anonymous.  The lead singer is known as Papa Emeritus III, and he dresses in kind of a demonic skeleton pope get-up.  As his name implies, he is the third Papa Emeritus.  For each new studio album, a new lead singer is chosen.  The other members of the band are referred to only as Nameless Ghouls, and they wear the same creepy black robes and masks.  The identities of the band members are not publicly known, which I think is pretty cool in this day and age.  Here's a picture of the band.
Together, the Nameless Ghouls and whichever Papa Emeritus happens to be leading the band at the time make great music. The band's music is generally described as heavy metal, and I think that is accurate for the most part.  There are elements of psychedelic rock and pop, doom metal, traditional metal, hard rock, and power metal in their songs.  Also, most of their songs are about Satan, demons, evil, zombies, mummies, etc.  I think is funny, especially in when I've seen them concert, where Papa Emeritus (II or III) has always been a very polite Swedish man ("Are you well?").  The bottom line, though, is that, no matter how you categorize it, their music is good.  The Nameless Ghouls are great musicians, and frankly, I have no idea how they can see their instruments through their masks, especially in dark concert halls.

Ghost released its first album, Opus Eponymous, in 2010.  I heard about when it was recommended by one of the hosts of That Metal Show (I can't remember if it was Jim or Don).  I checked it out, and liked what I heard, so I bought it.  Then, the band played Lollapalooza in 2013 (as Ghost B.C.), supporting their sophomore album, 2013's Infestissumam.  I don't think I realized that they dressed up when I saw them, and I was blown away.  It was Kiss meets The Misfits meets Anton LaVey.

After that, in late 2013, the band released an EP of covers called If You Have Ghost, followed by the exit of Papa Emeritus II, before the band released their third studio album, Meliora, in 2015 (with Papa Emeritus III at the helm).  Last month, they released another EP, Popestar.  They have also embarked on a tour in support of Popestar, which unfortunately does not stop in Chicago, probably because the band played at Lolla in August.

The band has had pretty good success in their home country, as both Infestissumam and Meliora hit #1 on the Swedish album charts, and Popestar hit #3.  In the U.S., Infestissumam is their only full-length album to make it on the Billboard 200 album charts (peaking at #28), although both EPs have charted as well, with If You Have Ghost hitting #87 and Popestar hitting #16.  I think the U.S. may contain too many god-fearing people -- who may think that listening to songs about Satan (no matter how campy or tongue-in-cheek) means they will go to hell -- for Ghost to truly make it big here.  But that's fine with me because it means I get to see them in venues like The Vic and The Riv.

The Ghost song I'm going with is "Cirice," off of Meliora.  This song won Best Metal Performance at this year's Grammy Awards, and it was the song that the band played on their first appearance on American television –- a performance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, appropriately enough on Halloween last year.  The video is a good one, featuring a school talent show, in which some kids dress up as Ghost.  The lead singer focuses his energy on a girl in the crowd, presumably named Cirice, who reciprocates the attention by using telekinesis to control all the squares in the audience.  I can't wait until Son is in grade school, so he can dress up as a demonic anti-Pope for the school talent show.  Now, I just have to make sure he has friends who can play instruments really well in masks.

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