Words by Emilia D’Albero | Photos by Joe Papeo
If you’ve never heard of Ghost B.C., you will soon. It seems like the Swedish doom metal band exploded on the scene less than a year ago, but in reality, they’ve been making their slow and eerie procession into the spotlight since 2010. Since the release of their debut album, Opus Eponymous, Ghost B.C. (hereafter referred to simply as Ghost because they’ve said themselves how much they hate the suffix) have been holding rituals and gathering fame consistently…although it doesn’t hurt to have James Hetfield personally introduce your band at a festival or have Dave Grohl drum on one of your B-sides. But even just as themselves, Ghost put on a spectacular show full of creepy theatrics that will make you want to see them over and over again. Their set at Webster Hall in New York City last Saturday proved this, when they played to an incredibly oversold venue full of fans both young and old, and both new and seasoned.
Opening with the title track from their latest album, Infestissumam, the five Nameless Ghouls who make up the instrumental aspect of the band walked out during the sacred choral chant- “Anticristus, il filio de Sathanas” – picked up their instruments, and proceeded to back the Latin chant with an awesomely heavy track that prepared their audience for the main attraction. As they transitioned smoothly into ‘Per Aspera Ad Inferi’, the sinister Papa Emeritus II glided to the front of the stage to take his rightful place at the center microphone. Papa Emeritus II is one of the most memorable front-men that you will ever experience; apart from being dressed in full cardinal’s robes, complete with upside-down crosses and an incredibly realistic skull mask, he commands attention like few others can. He speaks very little and does not make any sudden movements, but there is just something about his ghostly and somber stage presence that keeps the audience’s eyes glued to him.
Under hues of blue, green, and spooky red, Ghost played an interesting mix of music from their first and second albums, adding ‘Con Clavi Con Dio’ in next, followed by ‘Prime Mover’ and Opus Eponymous‘ biggest hit, ‘Elizabeth’. It seemed like the entire venue, including everyone in the balconies, sang along with every word of ‘Elizabeth’, which pleased Papa Emeritus II greatly. He traversed the stage, raising his gloved hands as if to ask his audience to sing and cheer louder, and they certainly obliged him. Next came ‘Secular Haze’, their latest single and another song that nearly everyone knew the words to. Written in a waltz time signature, ‘Secular Haze’ is one of their most unique and memorable songs that just never seems to get old, especially when they play it live. The Nameless Ghouls’ personalities really seem to come out during this song (as much as they can come out of 5 men dressed entirely in black hooded cloaks and masks); they really seemed to be having fun, especially the Nameless Keyboardist, as the organ is prominently featured on the tune.
After a few more older songs like ‘Death Knell’, ‘Satan Prayer’, and ‘Genesis’, they broke out ‘Year Zero’, another new track that begins with a choral chant of the names of different demons. The guitar riff, when combined with the keyboard part and the existing chant, makes you want to throw your hands into the air and headbang and scream the names of the demons, as if to summon them into the venue. As if that weren’t enough, the entire audience all chimed in for the chorus, screaming “Hail Satan, welcome Year Zero!” as loud as they could while Papa Emeritus II stood there and listened, obviously very pleased.
Just before the last song of the night, Papa Emeritus II explained that the last time they were in New York, they had played the exponentially smaller basement venue The Studio at Webster Hall, and thanked the fans for supporting them. Everyone cheered and asked for one more, and Ghost ended the main set with ‘Ritual’, a song that begins with a fun, danceable guitar melody but becomes much more bass-heavy throughout the track. ‘Monstrance Clocks’ closed out the night; the lyrics “come together for Lucifer’s son” were more than appropriate for the occasion, as were the amount of fists and devils’ horns in the air by the end of the track. Ghost’s costumes and theme may seem gimmicky, but their commitment to their characters and their music allow them to transcend that and be seen as a genuinely mysterious group who enjoy pleasing audiences and, apparently, Satan himself.
TheWaster.com | Spooky