It wasn’t too long ago that Tenebrous Kate dedicated a week’s worth of blogging to the topic of music and I honed in on that shit, right quick. Kate and I tend to travel in similar circles and tune into the same wavelengths of weird. It explains much of why I count her blog, Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire among my favorites. When she got down to it and started namechecking spooky music, she surprised the hell out of me when each day, her picks of stuff I ought to be listening to did three things simultaneously:
- She listed a bunch of bands that I was pretty sure myself and maybe ten other people were aware of and into
- She listed a bunch of bands I’d never even heard of
- She listed lots of metal bands
She just doesn’t strike me as the doom metal type, you know? Among the gold on those lists was a band who have managed to ear worm their way into my brain. I hear their melodic hard rock in my head when I’m not thinking about anything else. I hear them when I’m trying to go to sleep. My three year old daughter even loves them. Something I ought to think hard about because their lyrical content, a far cry from actually alarming shit like Regurgitate, Cannibal Corpse or Agoraphobic Nosebleed, is nothing but catchy track after track in celebration of your friend and mine, the Prince of Darkness. Satan, that is. The last thing I want is to be at my mom’s house with her some day and have her start singing songs about summoning the unholy bastard by way of human sacrifice. My mom, after all, disposed of no less than four copies of Reign In Blood in the time that I lived in her house and threw a fit the day she found my sister’s Ouija Board. She takes the occult pretty seriously even though we don’t.
Not a whole lot is known about Ghost. They’re from Sweden. There are six members and all but the singer wear robes and hide their faces in their cowls. The singer wears a mockery of a Catholic Cardinal’s robes and a mask with a skull painted on it. They drive tr00 kvlt black metal fans bananas with their insistence that they’re a black metal band. They tell some story about how they’re members of a Satanic sect of cultists out to bring about the end of the world and their path to the end involves corrupting and converting everyone else to their own ways by way of the corrupting influence of rock and roll. It’s actually some kind of joke and a lot of people suspect that the band is some kind of side project of another band. Popular opinion seems to think they’re related to death thrashers, Repugnant, although I can’t really say why. You can’t really take them very seriously, though. It’s pretty clear that this is some kind of theatrical joke since in an interview with Vice magazine, they claim that they ripped their costuming off of Zlad.
Their sound is a pretty particular mix of doom metal, Blue Oyster Cult and Mercyful Fate. At times, the riffs are reminiscent of any track off Melissa that I expect falsetto invocations of Satan to come pouring out of the speakers at any moment. You get these great riffs, minimalist guitar solos and a positively menacing organ and each song is, as I said, extremely catchy and melodic. It’s metal but in a really old way. Most people complain that Ghost is about 40 years too late for that bandwagon but to those people I say, “Haters gonna hate.” Ghost do a great form of retro-metal that is massively listenable. The only downside to Ghost’s sound is their singer, whose clean vocals, clearly inspired by the great King Diamond, are often whispy and weak. The rest of the band’s sound is so strong and assertive but their front man comes off passive. It took a long time for me to come around to him. What’s worse is that this lack of punch in the vocals department causes a series of downright fantastic lyrics to fall flat at times. Lyrically speaking, Ghost spares no opportunity to celebrate Satan and every song seems to be written by the cast of some 70’s Satan in the suburbs horror movie like Devil’s Rain or something. It’s completely silly in the best way possible.
Just give it a listen. Their first full length is called Opus Eponymous.