You have probably heard the buzz about the band Ghost B.C. I was first made aware of them about a year and a half ago from an article in Spin magazine. I saw the picture, and was instantly intrigued. The band was dressed all in black robes, as a monk or servant of the cloth would wear complete with hoods and their faces completely concealed. Each member had a “Grucifix” around their neck that hung mid-way down their chest. In case you’re wondering what a “Grucifix” is, it is an inverted cross with a broken circle around the center that forms a “G”. They go by the collective title of “Nameless Ghouls”. That is the imagery of the band. The lead vocals spot is an entirely different thing, Papa Emiritus II stands out front in full Pope Regalia, complete with a mitre, the headgear worn by the Pope, as my friends pointed out to me. It also dons the “Grucifix”. He wears makeup, resembling a bare skull, and complete vestibules to embody the self-proclaimed Dark Pope imagery, and has a white contact in one eye. The whole band is truly a sight to behold and enough of a vision to strike fear in the believer.
As I said, I was intrigued at first sight. They hail from Sweden and have dedicated themselves to their music, their anonymity, and to the Dark One himself, and plan to take us all along for the ride. Certainly it is a gimmick, considering the pomp and circumstance, the outward subject matter, and the costumes. Or is it?
At first, I couldn’t really find too much information on them on the internet and YouTube, so I kind of tucked it away, as I’m always searching for distinct, original acts knowing in my mind that they would pop back up when the time was right. That time came about six months ago as I was reading about the different music festivals that were happening around the United States. As I was reading about Metallica’s Orion Festival, (I hope Lars doesn’t sue me for using the Metallica name in a non-Lars approved article), and there they were, Ghost B.C.! They were slated to play for the second time at the Orion Festival. Metallica, (again, please don’t sue me Lars!) seemed to love them at the first festival, even inviting the Nameless Ghouls up on stage to play a song or two with them.
Their first album, Opus Eponymus, released to critical acclaim in 2010. The album really needs to be taken in as a whole. There is not what you would consider a hit single on it, although the whole thing is more like a spiritual experience. The album begins and ends with keyboards, much as a church service would. Not only do you have to take in the audio, but the live experience is something to behold. Now that the band has made their mark in America, there is plenty of stuff out there on YouTube. Don’t be surprised if you find something you like in their music. The Japanese release of the album had an exclusive bonus track of them covering a beloved Beatles track, Here Comes the Sun. Unfortunately for us fans here in the States, it is only available on this import. It is darker than the original but they don’t change it, so the song keeps its integrity intact. That, I feel, is where most bands make the mistake of covering other artist’s songs. They try to change the song too much until the structure breaks down, and it turns into something unrecognizable. Much like remodeling a house, if you compromise the integrity of the structure too much, it is just going to break down and leave you with a pile of rubbish. They changed it just enough to put their own signature on it, and embody what Ghost B.C. represents.
Originally from Linkoping, Sweden, they formed in 2008. Papa Emiritus II is rumored to be Tobias Forge from Subdivision and Repugnant fame. Those are two totally different formats that he has been a part of. All of Ghost B.C.’s songs or Psalms are credited to “A Ghoul Writer”, which is also the credited writer in another band he is a part of (under the assumed name of Mary Goore) called Crashdiet. Personally I’m convinced Papa is Tobias Forge. There are too many similarities between Subdivision’s music and style. The guitarist for Subdivision may also be the guitarist for Ghost B.C. as well. The playing style just fits when you compare. Whoever it is, I’m in no hurry to find out. The mystery is part of the attraction for me. They remind me of a certain theatrical band from the 70’s that wore makeup and concealed their identities. I hope they keep their anonymity for years to come.
Ghost B.C. was originally categorized or labeled as it may be, as “Doom Metal”. Besides the subject matter, end of day’s kind of stuff, that is where the similarities end. Doom is kind of chunky, slower metal with that 70’s feel, think Black Sabbath. Ghost B.C. is not that sound, it is more upbeat, almost poppy in sound that does pay homage to the classic bands. If I were to compare them to anyone it would be Blue Oyster Cult, with fewer cowbells. This is why I hate labels for bands. Everyone has to fit in a category. Labels are for all these hipster bands that can’t figure out if they want to make a statement, or just complain and whine. I say this because I can’t figure out whether these bands want to be pop artists, or rock artists, or wannabe rappers. I will save that discussion for a later article. Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Ghost B.C. has put out many colored vinyl albums that coincide with their current albums. These have gone for a pretty penny among collectors. I have seen them as high as $400. I would love to have one, so if any of you feel so inclined, please send it to SRO…I kid, I kid. Since the 2010 release, they have toured and conquered the world. Always exciting the people and fans who were familiar with them, and scaring the crap out of those unfamiliar listeners. They have toured limited dates here in the U.S and have left a lasting impression wherever they have played. Here in America they have to tour and release stuff under the Ghost B.C. moniker due to copyright laws. There is some other band here that runs under the name Ghost, totally different act though. In other parts of the world, they are simply known as Ghost. Supposedly, the B.C. stands for “Because of Copyright”. This is debatable also.
Just recently, Ghost (as I will refer to them from now on), released their second album which follows closely in its predecessors shoes. Infestissumam, as it is called, roughly translates as “hostile”. This album came out when the Catholic Church was electing a new Pope. There was a big Papa for Pope push in their camp, by the fans. The marketing was genius and with the significance of the Catholic Church electing their leader, it couldn’t have come at a better time. To signify this exchange of leadership in the real world, Ghost staged such an exchange at one of their shows. Papa Emiritus I passed the crozier to Papa Emiritus II. Clearly an actor dressed as Papa. As the crozier was passed, Ghost went into one of the new songs off the new album signifying the beginning of a new era. Also at this time, they released the single Year Zero. Additionally, on this album, the U.S. got some love in the form of a bonus track, featuring none other than the great Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters/Nirvana fame. Being from Sweden, it was only fitting that they cover an ABBA tune. It is the best version of Dancing Queen I’ve ever heard!! I’m just kidding. They actually recorded I’m a Marionette, and again made it their own. Dave Grohl’s drum tracks are amazing on this song. He also produced that track. Not to be outdone, the Japanese got their own bonus track too. Waiting on the Night is a track made famous by Depeche Mode. It was another brilliant rendition of a classic tune. I would love to hear them tackle a song like Don’t Fear the Reaper.
Yes, the lyrics are dark. Their music is so stand alone and dare I say ready for the radio, that they truly confuse me. They have mentioned in the past that they use the pop/rock hooks to indoctrinate the youth. Personally, I think they lucked into a sound that just seemed to click with the whole band and the imagery, with the subject matter following suit just to shake things up a bit. Their albums are in a class all by themselves, as is the band. The whole package is a work of art if I may say so, with their simplicity, and their well thought out execution of the whole concept. This is probably why it took the band a couple of years to put out a second album, as to not stray too much from the original idea. It is rumored that the band members may already be in prominent bands here in the U.S. and abroad. I’ve heard rumors that a couple of members are also European supermodels who do not want to threaten their careers by being associated with an act such as Ghost. Whatever the case may be, I know they stay in character even when they eat backstage. That is true dedication to the cause.
Ghost has yet to bring their sermons to Florida. Hopefully they come soon, as I can’t wait to see them! You can bet your sweet devil-worshiping a$$ that I will have my non- affiliated a$$ at that show. Until then, check them out. I guarantee it will not be what you expect. Either way, love them or loathe them, you have to admire their originality. Even if it seems like it has all been done before?