Ghost B.C. on Nameless Ghouls, Satan, and ABBA
Like most of it's traditions of which Sweden has many, Death Metal is a pervasively dark and sorrow-driven force in the the country's music history. With many brands of heaviness in it's ranks the band Ghost (or Ghost B.C. as they are known stateside) stand out as one that seemingly came from out of nowhere. Vaporizing into form as the hooded spiritual beings lead by the skull-faced "Pope", Papa Emeritus II, the band manages to create and capture a dark and gloomy, satanically-inspired persona that visually enhances and solidifies the band's overall concept.
While no one really knows who the actual band members are, they aren't the first band in history to create their own mythology but have since created a sound and characteristics that make their live show a must-see theatrical experience.
Their new record released this month, Infestissuma, further elaborates upon the band's exploration of satanic themes in modern-day society. With a progressive sound that incorporates organs, a chorus, and chanting lyrics like "Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Satanas, Lucifer," one is forced to ultimately look at the package of Ghost as metallic theater.
Speaking by phone from the band's hometown, Linköping, I was greeted by a somewhat soft-spoken voice, apparently one of the Nameless Ghouls from the band. With a very serious tinge to his description of the band's music we were able to dig deeper into the sound of the band and the forthcoming performance the band delivers and will be bringing to Mill City Nights this weekend.
Gimme Noise: So who am I talking to?
Nameless Ghoul: Uh, I am a Nameless Ghoul..
Hey Nameless Ghoul. Which instrument do you play, so as I can discern just which Nameless Ghoul I am talking to?
I am the guitar player.
Awesome. Have you been in the band for a while or do the Nameless Ghouls kind of come in and out of the band?
I'm the founding member.
Oh cool, the founding Ghoul! Hey, I been listening to Infestissumam quite a bit and really digging it. Have you gotten some good feedback from it? Are you pretty happy with how it turned out?
Yeah, the overall reception has been very good, I think. Especially in Europe where we've had slightly more great reviews in Scandanavia -- in all the daily magazines -- the reception has been really strong. It's been very highly-ranked and the record went number one in Sweden. So, obviously we're not at that level anywhere else, but we scored pretty high on Billboard here for being a band of our nature. Really exceeded anything we thought we'd do a year ago.
Well, if you got to conquer each part of the world, I'd guess Scandinavia is a good place to start.
That's our home base. Even though we sort of did everything backwards, since we never did that rudimentary club-circuit-thing before you get signed. We started after our first record came out. Our first show was in Germany and the second was in London. We never really built our base in Sweden but we're really lucky they picked up on us really early. They say "You can never really be a prophet in your own hometown." but we've managed to have a really strong following at home.
About the new record. Would you say it's a concept thing as much as the performance is as far as telling a story with each release?
Obviously being a really strong conceptual band, the records are thematic but they aren't chronological stories. Everything on the new record deals with a presence of a devil and/or Antichrist. But that's the literal essence of it. Whereas most of the songs are about how mankind relates to having a devil presence and what man would consider being a diabolical presence. The first record was more about the impending doom. We're basically doing the church, rolled-up authority that tells you hell is coming. Yes, it's thematic but it's not storytelling.
I like some of these themes about coming to terms with your own insignificance. I don't know if that eludes to the daily pact with the devil that people kind of make, sacrificing themselves as individuals. What's the inspiration for some of these ideas?
If you take everything the literal way, then you basically are just viewing the artistic side of Ghost. We're trying to paint an audio and visual landscape that's intriguing for your eyes and ears and soul that's based upon on an overtly-satanic concept that is supposed to feel very dark and evil. Whereas the underlying meanings of everything have some substance. You can choose to ignore that if you want to. You can read into the morals that there are in it. For being a satanic band that originates in metal, we are preaching but we aren't demanding anyone to act upon what we're saying.