Ghost: Devilish band, heavenly music


Ryan Quinn

Worshipping Satan doesn’t have to be a full-time job—yes, I know you were wondering. All it takes is a pair of headphones, a solid internet connection and a decent sense of humor. Once these three things are in place, you’re ready to listen to Swedish band Ghost. Oh, liking metal also helps.

The Pageant hosted this “satanic” group on Wednesday Sept. 26, where an eager, nearly-full crowd awaited their performance. Ghost (also known as Ghost B.C.) is a doom/black metal band made up six members, all of them anonymous. Five members are referred to only as “Nameless Ghouls,” all wearing identical masks, and the sixth, the frontman and singer, is given the title Papa Emeritus; essentially, he is the anti-Pope. Papa Emeritus is now technically named Papa Emeritus III, as Papa is “replaced” with every new album, even though the singer himself does not change—it’s all part of their tongue-in-cheek charm or their demonic enterprise, you can pick. Papa’s outfit is a bit more complex than the others’: elaborate face paint (and apparently prosthetics) cover his face and identity, while he is cloaked in an intricate robe strongly resembling a priest’s vestments. Well, except Papa’s are black with an upside-down cross embossed on them. Better not tell grandma.

Ghost opened their show with “Square Hammer,” a single off of their new EP, “Popestar.” Holy hell, I love this song. It’s a bizarre mix of old psychedelic rock and heavy metal and boy, oh boy, does it sound heavenly. It was obvious to me, while looking around the crowd, that not everyone present was as well-acquainted with their new single as I was. “Noobs,” I thought to myself, despite the fact that, amidst the sea of skeletal makeup and snake tattoos, I looked like I’d gotten lost on the way to a Super Target.

After “Square Hammer,” they moved into more familiar territory with “Cirice,” the Grammy Award-winning single from their previous album “Meliora,” and then launched into other songs from this album like “From the Pinnacle to the Pit.” As he intoned, Papa Emeritus moved across the stage in a stately glide, arms outstretched to his “followers” below. If nothing else, Papa and his cohorts are showmen—always in character and always fervently entertaining.

At one point, Papa Emeritus disappeared from the stage—it was brief, but noticable given his massive stage presence. Thankfully, he swiftly reappeared; this time not in his flowing robes, but in a tuxedo. Just as Papa is “replaced” with every album, so too is the band’s overall look, manifesting itself this time in some devilishly dapper black-tie attire.

The set ended, as it always does, with “Monstrance Clock” from their second album “Infestissumam”—I guess it’s supposed to be Latin for “the biggest threat,” in reference to the Antichrist, duh. Regardless, the crowd sang loudly along to the ominously melodic song as Papa sashayed atop the stage. I almost wanted to call it a religious experience, with so many people chanting out the words to an echoing song, but then I remembered that someone might actually believe I’d become a Satanist—I’ll let that remain unconfirmed.

All this secrecy and various devil-related shenanigans would all seem very gimmicky—and they very well could have been—if these guys weren’t so talented. Now, instead, their attire and mysterious persona have become representative of Ghost’s fearless music-making. If you like metal, rock, having your mind blown, go see them. It might not be possible during their current tour as they’ve swiftly left Missouri, but fear not, I have a feeling they will return. But, who knows, perhaps that’s just the devil whispering sweet temptations in my ear.

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