Sweden is the land of ROCK my friends. All the best bands seem to be coming from Sweden these days, I guess there’s something in the water over there. Anyway, I’d been hearing a LOT about Sweden’s Ghost for a while. Usually these buzz-bands disappoint, but Ghost proved to be a rare exception. What I’d heard was Ghost was a “classic” metal band, like Black Sabbath. I’d heard they were “dark” and very theatrical and, unlike most metal bands today, they actually sang. Intrigued, I put Ghost’s debut record OPUS EPONYMOUS on my to-do list. Some time passed, and then on New Year’s Eve I noticed that the band was listed on iTunes 2011 End-of-Year Rewind as “Best Metal Album.”
So long story short I used an iTunes giftcard I’d received for X-mas to download the album. Everything about this album kicks so much ass. First, let’s talk about the album cover:
My good friend, Dr. Michael Wense, has dubbed the spooky character on the album cover “Ghost Pope.” On first glace what you see is something that’s supposed to be scary but clearly looks like Count Chocula. Well this cover is a pretty good representation for Ghost as a band. There is NO WAY that this band is serious. I’m sorry, I know there’s dudes out there on the message boards saying bullshit like “these guys really are Satanists” or “this band isn’t a joke” but let me tell you: this band is a hilarious joke. In fact, I’d say this is the greatest non-cartoon, cartoon metal band of all time. I should be repulsed by this band, after all the satanic/evil/devil bullshit is pretty fucking stupid and the epitome of everything I hate about a lot of metal….
And yet, Ghost as a whole seems to almost be a parody of (what I think is) the worst of metal.
Okay, so what about the music? Well that’s the weird thing, I heard all these Sabbath comparisons going-in to the record…but honestly this band does not sound like Black Sabbath. This band is a basically an tongue-in-cheekier version of Blue Oyster Cult. The vocals and guitars sound just like BOC. The songs are ridiculously awesome. There are so many melty-velveeta moments,it’s hard to just pick one. How about on “Stand By Him” where they sing “A Temptress smitten by the Blackest Force/A Vicar Bitten Blind in intercourse.” Or the second track, “Con Clavi Con Dio” which opens with a chugging, menacing riff that is broken by the lead singer shrilly summoning “Lucifer!” like his balls are in a vice. It’s anti-scary and cracks me up every time I hear it.
Now that’s not to say that this isn’t a good band, or that the album is a pointless novelty, cos it’s not…not completely. The song “Prime Mover,” for example is a ballsy, super-melodic rocker. These guys have the chops and regardless what you think of their shtick, you can’t deny them that. The fact that they wear costumes (I saw the lead singer on YouTube playing a concert in full “Ghost Pope” regalia) leads me to believe that Ghost really is more joke than some of the numbskulls online would have you think. I would say that if, like me, you’re a fan of classic hard rock and/or early metal you owe it to yourself to give OPUS EPONYMOUS a listen.
Take a listen:
And what the hell, how about a freaky-ass Beatles cover?