G is for Ghost
Oh man, y’all, this challenge is definitely harder than anticipated. Some letters have been easy but also difficult because there are multiple bands with the letter I want to talk about. A HUGE influence on my early years was Guns and Roses but I can’t help but feel like I have left them behind, never to return. There are some bands from my past I always circle around to again but not this one. I just don’t feel the same. So for this post, we’re looking at Ghost. Ha! I rhymed.
I first became aware of this band sometime in 2016, I believe. I remember seeing something about them on tumblr or something and thinking, what a bunch of weirdos who always wear masks; who even are they?
But that in and of itself was really intriguing too. I mean, how difficult it must be to keep the anonymity. So in September of 2016 they released the video for Square Hammer and it was the first song I ever really listened to. I gave it a chance because rock channels and whatnot that I followed hyped it up. It was at this point that I realized I’d been circling this band for some time, without really looking closely. That song is by far their biggest banger.
At this point, I was really into Iron Maiden and maybe around February, I acquired tickets to a show in June in Tampa. And then I found out Ghost would be their opening act! As to not be a total noob, I immersed myself into their albums via Spotify and found their sound appealing; nothing like what I thought it might be. It isn’t actually very “metal” but it is mysterious and religious. Though, most may argue, Satanic.
After that concert, I was wholly and entirely smitten with the band. I went through a very long Ghost phase, right up until I got to see them again in December 2018, which then revitalized my interest. That was an even more transcendent experience. The bands calls their concerts (or maybe fans do?) “rituals” so the theme persists. In fact, you’d have to attend one to really understand the lore that this band has created for itself. See, the lead singer has always played a sort of Satanic pope or Papa (I, 2, 3, and 4, respectively, with a Cardinal thrown in there too) and the masked band members are all ghouls. Depending on which era we’re talking about (which album) the ghouls are either named after elements or nameless, even though for the most recent, fans have nicknamed them. Here’s an example of the lengths fans go to to name and identify them. (This one is also sometimes called Stompy.)
Now of course, the entire cover is blown and we all know who each band member is. This all happened because, with the exception of the singer, Tobias Forge, the whole band has been replaced. See, the other member sued him because they said they didn’t get paid or some such nonsense. I don’t know the whole deal but something went horribly awry with the original members and Toby so now, he has a mix of musicians from other bands and I’m just glad I was able to see both bands.
Now, let’s talk about the Satanism. I grew up Catholic but moved away from the church a long time ago. That’s not to say I don’t still have faith. I do, but I dislike organized churches. The theme for Ghost stems from religious corruption. Though Toby is a self-proclaimed Satanist, I don’t take that too seriously. I know a lot of hardline religious types get up in arms about this stuff but I do think you can separate the theme of that in your music from your actual beliefs. Listening to it won’t corrupt you. (Lil Nas X’s recent situation cracks me up for this same reason. I don’t care for his music but if he wants to use the symbology of Satan, by all means, dude. You do you.) Besides, it makes for a fun theme to the music; it makes it dark and interesting.
Some of the mystique of their former selves has been lost now that they’ve all been unmasked but I do still look forward to new music this band will produce. There are very few songs across their five albums I dislike. I pretty much never skip any, except a couple slow songs from their first album. My favorite thing is how their latest full album, Prequelle, had the theme of the Black Death. Their number one hit from it, Dance Macabre, is so damned poppy, I don’t know how anyone could avoid it! Toby even said he threw in some Abba influence (they’re Swedish after all!) and man, it shines through here. Ignore the creepy aspects and let this song make you dance!