Ghost is the name of a devil worshipping ministry, that in order to spread its unholy gospels and, furthermore, trick mankind into believing the end is ultimately a good thing, have decided to use the ever so popular rock music medium as a way to achieve their ends.
Standing motionless and anonymous beneath the painted faces, hoods and robes which their sect demand, the six nameless ghouls of Ghost deliver litanies of sexually pulsating heavy rock music and romantic lyrics, which glorify and glamorise the disgusting and sacrilegious, with the simple intention to communicate a message of pure evil via the most effective device they can find: Entertainment. This is Black Metal at it’s most original and deceiving; compositions such as “Ritual” and “Death Knell” majestically weave their melodic spell of evil through the senses until the listener finds themselves utterly possessed and open to any diabolical suggestion.
In May 2010 Ghost were contracted to a UK based gramophone company called Rise Above Ltd, who swore an oath stating that they will assist the group in the task of spreading their musical blasphemies through formats such as Compact Discs, Long Playing Vinyl Records and Digital Downloading.
The first full-length Ghost album ‘Opus Eponymous’, a daringly beautiful combination of satanic rock music with an almost unthinkable pop sensibility, is to be released on 18th October 2010. It is understood and agreed that Rise Above Ltd will invest heavily in areas such as magazine advertising and retail marketing and employ the services of music publicity specialists in order to expose the music of Ghost to the wider public. Specific attention will be paid to targeting people (research suggests these are most likely to be adolescents) who have a void in their life, perhaps caused by some form of emotional trauma or upset, that can be filled by the music and philosophies of Ghost. In time, these easily manipulated children will come to share the views and goals of the Ghost ministry and can prepare their own plans for the downfall of humanity….
Prequelle / 2018
Meliora / 2015
Meliora (Latin for “the pursuit of something better”) is the third full-length album by Swedish heavy metal band Ghost. The album was produced by Klas Åhlund and released on August 21, 2015. The album was generally well received, placing on several music publications’ lists of the best heavy metal albums of the year and winning Best Hard Rock/Metal Album at the 2015 Grammis Awards. Lead single “Cirice” won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. In September 2016, the band released a special edition of the album, called Meliora Redux.
Ghost began crafting their third studio album, the follow-up to 2013’s Infestissumam, at the end of 2014. The impetus for its “futuristic” theme came to a Nameless Ghoul a month or so prior to starting the Infestissumam tour. While trying out a new guitar rig during a rehearsal, the Ghoul created a “spacey echoed” effect that made a guitar riff sound “futuristic [and] sci-fi”. At this point, he had the idea for their next album.
A Nameless Ghoul said that, because guitar took a backseat on Infestissumam, the band focused on guitar riffs from the beginning of the new album. He explained that part of this was achieved by having four different guitars, each played through three different amps, making four performances going through 12 amplifiers. They used two Gibson SGs, one from the early 1980s and the other from the 1960s; a 1962 Gibson Les Paul; and a Fender Telecaster.
Discussing the selection of Klas Åhlund as producer, the Ghoul said that despite his reputation for working with pop singers and having never produced a heavy metal band before, Åhlund had many of the same musical interests as Ghost. A band member also said, “I definitely think that we got a lot of ideas and a lot of new angles that we wouldn’t have had, had we worked with a more established rock producer”.
A member of the band said that the pre-production, writing and arranging of Meliora took a long time, not allowing for the luxury of recording any non-album songs with the exception of “Zenith”, which was left off the main album but added as an extra track to a limited edition.
Following their debut album Opus Eponymous, which is about the coming of the Antichrist, and Infestissumam, which is about the presence of the Antichrist, Meliora’s main theme is “the absence of god”. A Nameless Ghoul said, “The lyrics deal with the void that happens when there is no god, when there is no one there to help you. But even then, there will always be some fucker there to give you guidance. And the band is basically portrayed as the religious party that comes in there with a guiding hand. We offer the one place in the world that is spiritual”. A member of the band also said that it was “more about the modern man and woman in their pursuit of purpose in life. It’s hard to live in a society if you’re not willing to buy that you are in a collective, yet usually in the Western world, there is a big disregard for individual responsibility”. The album’s title, Meliora (Latin for “the pursuit of something better”), matches the theme of the lyrical content and “the backdrop that we wanted to paint in front of which we’re playing these songs, basically, which was supposed to be, or is supposed to be, a super-urban, metropolitan, pre-apocalyptic, dystopic futuristic thing”.
Although Ghost used choirs on their previous album, they had a lot of issues doing so. This time, the band decided to go the extra mile and spend the necessary money. A Nameless Ghoul said, “There are a lot of mellotron choirs on there because we wanted it to feel [a] little bit synthetic and simulated. The choir symbolizes the gothic element that comes in all of a sudden”.
Opening track “Spirit” utilized the “futuristic [and] sci-fi” guitar riff that gave a Nameless Ghoul the idea for the Meliora album.
A Nameless Ghoul called “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” a “truly stomping riff-based song, Led Zeppelin-style” and “something that would sound great coming out of a car stereo in an American high school parking lot”.
“Cirice” was originally conceived together with “Devil Church“, which was its opening, as a very dark and doomy nine-minute instrumental without a chorus. After working on it further at the urging of Åhlund, a chorus materialized and the two parts were split.
The song “He Is” was written in 2007. The band tried recording it for Infestissumam, but after attempting to get it to “sound like Ghost” and adding and subtracting aspects, ultimately put it on the shelf. Upon starting pre-production for Meliora, they added “He Is” to the list, and after praise from Åhlund, recorded it as it was. A Nameless Ghoul told Loudwire that the lyrics to the song were influenced by the suicide of Selim Lemouchi, guitarist of The Devil’s Blood, who was friends with members of Ghost.
Discussing “Majesty“, a Ghoul said, “Lyrically, it’s on one hand a hymn about the dark lord of the underworld. On the other hand it paints a picture of a swarm of people, whom in a world of complete disaster, idolizes an authority that is clearly looking down upon them. How to love something that hates you back.”
Infestissumam / 2013
Infestissumam (Latin superlative adjective meaning very or most hostile, used by the band as “the most hostile” or “the biggest threat” in reference to the Antichrist) is the second full-length album by the Swedish heavy metal band Ghost. It was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, produced by Nick Raskulinecz and released on April 10, 2013. It was released in North America by Loma Vista Recordings on April 16 in partnership with Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group, marking the band’s major label debut. The album was generally well-received, with several music publications placing it on their list of the best heavy metal albums of the year, and won the 2014 Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album. In late 2013, the band released a special edition of the album, called Infestissumam Redux.
All of the album’s tracks except “Ghuleh” were written and demoed by the end of summer 2011. The band planned to record the album after their North American tour with Enslaved and Alcest; however Ghost had to pull out of the tour and both the band and Rise Above Records agreed the album should be released on a different label. A Nameless Ghoul said that the band was in a hurry to put out another record.
On signing to a major label for the album, a Ghoul said, “It was Tom Whalley who was interested in the band. [He] was looking to start his own label, which ended up being an imprint of Universal … We felt that we might be self-conscious about making that move, but knowing his background, having someone like that, having him be an advocate for our band, within a big organization like Universal, felt like the closest thing you can get to being on an independent without being on an independent.”
Ghost finally began recording the album in October 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee, with producer Nick Raskulinecz. The band said they chose Raskulinecz because “He’s good at working with a band without transforming the band into something else, rather than make them just flower as the band they are … It turned out he didn’t want to change much at all, and that’s why he got the job.” In 2015 a Nameless Ghoul said they were not 100% satisfied with the album’s final production, citing time restraints forcing them to accept last minute mixing and mastering. They did have difficulties in the Nashville area; because of their Satanic lyrics the band could not find a choir to perform on their record. Even individual choristers turned down the work. The band said, “Then we told them what they were supposed to sing, and one of the guys almost cried, he took offense; it was really weird … So we ended up recording the choir in Hollywood, where people have no problem with worshipping the Devil.”
Commenting on the themes of the new album, a Nameless Ghoul told Decibel that while the first record ended with “Genesis”, the birth of the Antichrist, Infestissumam continues from the Antichrist’s birth onwards. In another interview the band said, “Everything on the first record was about a coming darkness, an impending doom. Whereas the new record is about something present, and literally, the new record deals with the presence of the Anti-Christ, the Devil. But subliminally, the meaning of it is more how mankind– predominantly men– what they have deemed to be the presence of the Devil, throughout history and even nowadays. And that’s why the record is so fueled with sexual themes and females. That’s basically it, the Inquisition was basically men accusing women of being the Devil just because they had a hard-on for them.”
Explaining why the record is more musically diverse than their first, a member said, “Being applauded for a few of those things on the first record that according to the rule book of metal would be viewed as a lot of no-no’s enticed us to go even deeper, and both downwards and upwards, and just overall make a more colorful record”, and “A lot of metal bands have a tendency to come up with a sound and they just mimic that 10 times on a record. […] Which is fine, but we tried to deliberately have every song have its own signature.”
“Per Aspera ad Inferi” translates as “Through Hardships to Hell”.
The song “Secular Haze” came about when a Ghoul writer came to the rest of the band saying, “This is a new song. There was this carnival remark, and obviously there is a cabaret element in that organ, but the idea was to actually have a maritime feel. It’s supposed to feel like you’re on a stormy sea, with waves. The idea was musically inspired by a saying, how someone that has been close to dying by drowning said that the feeling that you get is an enormous, cold, anxiety feeling which is replaced just before you die with a warm acceptance that is supposedly extremely rewarding and orgasmic. The whole song is supposed to feel like it’s storming and storming, never ending with a few glimpses of tranquility in the choruses, but where in the end, in the “come mist eternal part”, it’s supposed to feel like you’ve gone over the edge of freezing to that warmth.”
“Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” originated from an old piece of music: “The piano part in the beginning is old. It’s been lying around for years. But in a Ghost context it needed to become something else, there wasn’t a full idea that would sort of materialize, it would have kept the same line throughout the whole song. This record needed an ending to the A-side, after the three first songs, which are all hectic and involve a lot of changes and hysteria, you needed a sort of meadow where you could lie for a little while. That’s why we took on that song and transferred it into what turned into ‘Ghuleh / Zombie Queen’. Even though it might not be the best song on the record, which I have a hard time deciding which is, it’s definitely one of the most interesting parts of the record. It’s a good move that we’re getting away with. [laughs]” In another interview, a Ghoul said “there are elements of ‘Ghuleh’ that are very typical of ’70s Swedish music.” When asked what is “Ghuleh”, a Ghoul replied “She is the romanticized idea of either a being or a time being lost. It is about nostalgia. The absence of time or a person or a being or something has a tendency to fog up the idea of what the actual nature of that thing or person is.”
Tobias Forge claimed that “Year Zero” and “Zenith” are the only two Ghost songs that he was not the main author of, the two instead being the ideas of guitarist Martin Persner. Although, Forge did write the former’s lyrics in addition to revising, arranging and giving instrumentation to both.
The album’s cover art is part of a single, large piece that was separated into 12 or 13 pictures; it was made in collaboration with Ghost and drawn by Polish artist Zbigniew Bielak and inspired by the album’s lyrics and themes. A Nameless Ghoul said that because the album deals with the Antichrist “we knew there was going to be a baby on the front cover. It also represents the paradox of inborn evil, of being very innocent and very vulnerable”, and said that it is a pastiche of the film Amadeus.
Infestissumam was originally scheduled to be released on April 9, however the band could not find a manufacturer for the CD in the United States and its release was delayed until April 16. A source close to the band told Spin that Ghost was turned down by four US CD manufacturers because of artwork of the album’s deluxe edition, which is a 16th-century illustration of an orgy. The magazine said it was the depiction of Jesus Christ crucified upside down that caused the controversy instead of the Gustave Doré-inspired work’s sexual content. However, a Nameless Ghoul said it was indeed because of the sexual content and said it was ironic that “just because we had naked women as well as female body parts shown and exposed, that caused the problem. What about the blasphemy? What about the Satanism? That wasn’t the problem. That’s exactly what the record is about.” Rather than delay the album longer, the band decided to use the CD artwork from the regular edition for the US pressings on the deluxe edition CD. All European copies and the US vinyl version include the controversial artwork as “Vinyl manufacturers don’t have a problem with the artwork. Neither does Europe.”
Opus Eponymous / 2010
Opus Eponymous (Latin for the self-titled work) is the debut studio album by the Swedish heavy metal band Ghost. It was released on October 18, 2010, on the independent record label Rise Above. It was released in North America on January 18, 2011, and in Japan on April 6, 2011. The album was recorded in the band’s hometown and produced by Gene Walker. Opus Eponymous was nominated for a Grammis Award. The Japanese release contains an additional bonus track: a cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”.
A band member, all of whom are referred to only as Nameless Ghouls, explained that the songs on Opus Eponymous were written in 2007 and 2008, around two years before the album was released. It was the songs that caused Ghost to become a theatrical band with their Satanic theme: “Very early on, when the material came together in the project phase before it was actually a band, when it was a logo and a couple of songs, it came together by itself because the material and the lyrics sort of screamed a over-the-top commitment to the dark side. It is hard to make that credible and really eerie. What we thought of when we heard the songs is basically a band that looks the way we do now”, explained a Ghoul. A member said that it was the song “Stand by Him” that heralded the start of the band: “while being together in another band, Ghost started when I played a riff to everybody else. I said that this is probably the most heavy metal riff that has ever existed. Then I showed them the opening riff to ‘Stand by Him’. When the chorus came to me, it haunted my dreams. Every time I picked up the guitar, I ended up playing that progression, and when I fit the words in, it seemed to cry out for a Satanically-oriented lyric. This was in 2006. When we came up with the name Ghost, it seemed only natural to build on the foundation of this heavy imagery. Within that concept we were able to combine our love of horror films, and of course, the traditions of Scandinavian metal.”
Ghost performing at Roskilde Festival 2011
The album was recorded over the course of a few weeks in a basement studio in the band’s hometown of Linköping. It was mixed and mastered by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ulver, Angel Witch) at Orgone Mastering in London. One Nameless Ghoul said “We did the whole thing with a standard Gibson SG”, and explained they were limited as opposed to their second album, “which is why a lot of the guitars sound more traditionally metal.” Another stated “We played everything through an Orange Thunderverb 50. To get a real Seventies vibe, we backed up the gain as much as possible without losing the tone or the sustain. We found that the midrange was really important as well. That’s why we used Orange amps.” Tobias Forge stated that the album was recorded with a session drummer and nothing else.
The song “Elizabeth” is about Elizabeth Báthory. The tracks “Con Clavi Con Dio” and “Genesis” are sped up waltzes.
Describing why they covered “Here Comes the Sun”, a Ghoul said “I’ve been a fan of Beatles even longer than I’ve been listening to hard rock, so it made a lot of sense.” He explained that the band selects songs to cover based on if they can adapt it into their own: “We sort of found the angle of taking that so and inverting it. And that’s something that’s sort of the Ghost recipe for doing covers, it has to be a song that has some sort of tongue-in-cheek inversion quality to it. And that song just screamed ‘cover’.”
The theme of Opus Eponymous ties in with the band’s second album, Infestissumam: “Everything on the first record was about a coming darkness, an impending doom. Whereas the new record is about something present, and literally, the new record deals with the presence of the Anti-Christ, the Devil.” The first album ended with “Genesis”, the birth of the Antichrist, and Infestissumam continues from the Antichrist’s birth onward.
REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS
Ghost played sold out Hartwall Arena in Helsinki on 28.11.2019 as an additional show to their “The Ultimate Tour Named Death” tour accompanied by fellow Swedish melodic death metallers TribulationDecember 5, 2019 by Serena
The Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood is one of the coolest venues in the strip! It is especially the perfect venue when a band that normally plays large venues, wantsMay 14, 2018 by Slayanys Maniax
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