It happens every time newsite Metal Injection posts an update about the band Ghost; there might be a supportive comment here and there, but one can always expect to find a reader stating that “they’re not real metal.”
Well, to you, guardians of our genre, I say “Who cares?”
I’ve been a fan of Ghost for two years now, and as of recently, with the release of their single “Cirice,” I can confidently say that they’re my favorite band. And yet, if someone were to ask me what group I hold dearest to my heart, I would hesitate to answer.
The community is a harsh one. I shouldn’t be scared of being made fun of for what I enjoy.
While I agree that the band isn’t your average heavy metal group – they’re more of a Satan meets classic rock type of gig if you ask me – experimentation is a glorious path to take when done correctly. Papa Emeritus and his Nameless Ghouls are one of, if not the most, unique thing to happen to the scene in years.
For the past decade or so, metalcore has slowly but surely become the subgenre that produces the most metal. It’s defined by its predictable structure: the need for a breakdown as well as clean vocals to contrast the screaming and whiny lyrics.
Five years into this trend, everyone around sounded like a copy of Falling in Reverse or Escape the Fate. You couldn’t go to Mayhem Festival or Uproar without running into it. When I first attended the former in 2010, at least five of the performers were either complete metalcore byproducts (ex: Norma Jean) or closely bordered the style. They took over two of the three stages that day.
Then Ghost’s Infestissumam came out in in 2013. With songs like “Year Zero” and “Monstrance Clock,” it became fairly obvious that the band would go the typical Satanic route usually followed by black metal artists from their homeland of Sweden. For a moment, I was worried that their image would become cheesy and drawn out over time, but then I noticed something.
These guys have a sense of humor.
What I love about Ghost is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, something that’s not completely obvious when you first start getting into them. Behind the masks and makeup, the tiniest moments become an opportunity for a quick bit of fun. Their shirts are filled with movies references, carrying Clockwork Orange designs and comedic Jaws alterations that make supporting songs about the rise of the Antichrist enjoyable.
They covered a lesser known ABBA tune once (“I’m a Marionette”) and made it sound evil. For their latest music video, they had little kids dress up as themselves and perform in a talent show, much to the horror of most parents in attendance. Everything is done with a subtle wink and a nudge that makes you smile as you sway your hips to the alluring atmosphere they create.
Ghost puts an incredible amount of effort into their presentation, which carries off into a chilling and memorable live show. It goes beyond the stereotypical screaming at the audience to “open this pit up.” It’s an experience.
They don’t need the heavy guitars and heavier vocals to get the darkness across, and they don’t have to take the expected route of metal cockiness either. Some may be annoyed by this musical departure being covered by sites like Metal Injection, but I for one find it refreshing.