by Jeff Laufer-Rock Bands Of L.A.
Heavy metal gets a bad rap for being violent and misogynist,;yet it brings such great joy and empowerment to its fans. This is partly the reason that Swedish metal band, GHOST are the biggest rock band on the face of the earth! Don’t fester on the costumes nor their anonymity. I admit, it seems a bit odd at first! Shit, KISS created an entire empire by dressing in costumes; but at the end of the day you knew who was who. The track, “RATS” from their latest album, “Prequelle” spent over 7 weeks at the #1 position at rock radio and Ghost won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance back in 2016…
Led by front man Tobias Forge.. who masterfully obscures his identity behind the character of “Papa Emeritus” and currently as the self-ordained fundamentalist, “Cardinal Copia”. Urban legend claims Forge is related to Benny Andersson of ABBA through the marriage of a deceased second cousin. Its almost like he’s an evil Freddie Mercury!
Forge is backed up by a band of nameless ghouls whose identities are never divulged… Urban legend claims that three of the nameless ghouls are Swedish EDM group, Swedish House Mafia…
The macabre mythology behind Boris Korloff,Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Bella Lugosi makes the appreciation of GHOST that much more interesting…They are melodic rockers with a simple modal sound reminiscent of 70’s corporate rock…. The songs include Gregorian Chant monophonic interplay with harmonic rhythms. Somewhere carramed between ABBA, Styx, Danny Elfman and REO Speedwagon. ..At times their music seems more cinematic than aural cacophony.
There’s a striking difference in the emotional responses of fans vs. non-fans of the band. For non-fans it tis’ music with violent themes that results in uniformly negative experiences. It left them feeling tense, afraid and angry. As much as GHOST being associated with Satanism it’s just lowbrow fodder by a bunch of right wing bible zealots. Earlier this year while performing in Milwaukee there was an unfortunate fan in the audience that died of cardiac arrest upon the completion of Act I or their show. The band sorrowfully decided to cancel the rest of the concert and refunded the money to the patrons… A few weeks ago they have decided to reschedule the concert for Halloween night… and complete the great crescendo of Act II… That should be interesting?
Interpretations of Ghost’s lyrics have ranged from an admonition of worldly fleshy indulgence to a dire warning on the perils of life’s temptations; to an evocation of ultimate sexual joy. The intricacy of the songs symbolism, particularly that of the of the song, “Pro Memoria” can lead to a wide range of scholarly interpretations from centuries past. Future Twenty-first-century historians will be divided as to whether the album,” Prequelle” is a moral warning or a panorama of paradise lost in “erotic derangement.?
Not so with GHOST fans (like me). There’s no moral panic other than how successful they will become…Their U.S. Fall tour is selling out fast… including a show at The Forum in Los Angeles. All of this is giving rise to positive experiences of power, joy and peace. Fans can selectively support the musical interplay and lyrical attributes of secular Latin interjected with a tongue and cheek delivery that can promote psycho-social goal as kinship with the artist at large…
(This an abridged article that originally appeared on the Rock Bands Of L.A. site)