Sound: Ghost (Ghost B.C. in the USA) is a Swedish, Satanist (on stage only, not in real life) group formed in 2008. The members of the band are anonymous and the only one whose face is even visible is their frontman, Papa Emeritus (which in itself is ironic because when the band was conceived, every pope who could be considered "emeritus" would be dead; now there actually is a Pope Emeritus; Benedict XVI). The band has quickly gained popularity with their '70s sound and attitude (rock stars equal super-human figures as opposed to the Kurt Cobain mortal, normalcy of rock stars) and this covers EP comes after the success of their second album. And just to stir the pot, Dave Grohl produced this EP, played rhythm guitar on "If You Have Ghosts," and played drums on "I'm A Marionette" and "Waiting for the Night.”
"If You Have Ghosts" (Roky Erickson) - the opening string part of this song immediately reminded me of Coldplay and the lyrics seem a little simple for the anti-pope. Aside from those two caveats, this is a great Ghost song. The dynamics are great, the song is catchy, and I can kind of feel the right Papa Emeritus vibe as the song goes on and the message is more closely revealed. This is definitely the most pop song on the album but it nevertheless is a good cover and a very pleasant listen. And like on the band's second album, their first to be recorded with a major label, the production is excellent, rivaling on perfect.
"I'm a Marionette" (ABBA) - this song is definitely the most Ghost-esque of the covers. The vibe is downright creepy, taking the original ABBA song and turning it into much more. Dave Grohl's drumming fits the song to a tee; the best drumming on the album (not a criticism of the nameless drummer). Again, the vibe on this song fits Ghost perfectly (sounds good too) and is exactly what I would picture the anti-pope and five nameless ghouls to sound like. My only criticism of this song is that the guitar solo/breakdown section drags a little, so I cannot call this the best song on the album, though it would be if not for this little mishap.
"Crucified" (Army of Lovers) - this is the song where Papa Emeritus shines. He gives a devious and utterly satanic performance (extra points for successfully rolling his R's) for the verses before coming back to his head voice in the chorus, which like all the others, is very catchy. The contrast in Papa Emeritus' two voices is stunning and really makes the song the best one on the album. In addition, the harmonizing acoustic guitars at the beginning of the song are beautiful and, furthermore, exemplary of how one ought to record acoustic guitars. The slight piano solo also adds just enough substance to the song to make it better, a perfect estimation on the part of Ghost.
"Waiting for the Night" (Depeche Mode) - this song comes across as a ballad in a way due to of the progression that starts with, "There is a star in the sky." The chorus is catchy, like in the other songs, but other than this common characteristic, the song isn't all that notable. While the song certainly isn't bad, it is, in my opinion, the worst song of this EP.
The last song on the EP is a live recording of "Secular Haze," the lead single from the band's second album. Personally, I wish they had recorded a few nights of shows, instead of what appears to be one. If they were intended on using a song from a live show to put on an album because there are noticeable mistakes within this rendition and the mixing is not top notch. Still, it's nice to finally hear a professional live recording of Ghost.
The audio from the track also perfectly matches a live music video Ghost released earlier in the year, you can see it below. // 8
Lyrics: Ghost's vocalist and frontman Papa Emeritus turns in another positively evil performance on this EP. Although he doesn't have (or at least chooses not to utilize) a wide vocal range, what he does use fits the songs perfectly, making them the satanic beasts that they are; nobody can do an evil sneer like Papa Emeritus. His delivery is as clear and as characteristically catchy as ever on this EP.
Lyrically, this EP is a collection of covers, so credit should be given to their respective writers. Still, Ghost should get credit for picking great songs to cover in terms of lyrics; all of the lyrics fit the Ghost image well except for "If You Have Ghosts" which comes across as a little cliche for a band of this caliber and grandiose image. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, this is an impressive release by Ghost. It still remains as merely a detour to Ghost's next original album, but it showcases Ghost's creativity and far reaching musical tastes; each of the original versions of the cover songs are vastly different than the version Ghost does and from each other, for that matter. If Ghost can keep up this creative streak, which they've had since their inception, while still maintaining their general mold as a satanic metal/rock band, they will probably be able to become one of the biggest bands in the world and singlehandedly bring back the persona of the larger than life rock star (please). The best song of the EP, in my opinion, was "Crucified."
All in all, another great effort by (they’ll probably send me to the seventh ring of hell for this) the sinisterly satanic Swedes. // 8
- Parker Abt (c) 2013