The house lights dropped, and Gregorian chants lulled the crowd- for a moment. Somber latinate tones accompanied the appearance of five hooded and robed figures, which filed to their instruments. Then, chanting explodes into soaring riffs with thumping, head-bangable bass. The five “Nameless Ghosts” (as they are known online) rocked out Infestissumam, the eponymous introductory song of Ghost B.C.’s second album. Their second number required the frontman, Papa Emeritus II, to grace the audience with his presence, and he was given a screaming welcome. Wearing skull face paint and a profoundly blasphemous mitre, Papa led Ghost B.C. and their congregation through highlights of both their albums. Their paced slowed once to bid Denver good evening, and only once more to give the audience an opportunity to scream adoration. Their show at the Ogden on April 18th demonstrated the supreme talent and showmanship of these anonymous musicians.
Presenting an image of devout, goat-worshipping satanism, Ghost B.C. either literally pursues converts to their cult, or parodies the monotheistic religions as cults. The “About” section of their weblog is obstinately blank; the black screen momentarily convinced me my browser was on the glitch. Though speculation has led to convincing leads on Papa’s identity, the alleged frontman has made no comment. Identities of the Nameless Ghosts remains shrouded completely, as they did during the performance. The band’s cryptically-worded “messages from the clergy” add to the mystique. For example, on the date their new album became available, they “[wished] to inform you that the Infestissumam ritual is streaming in its entirety...” Admissions that if they remained in character all the time they “would go COMPLETELY insane” soften their image (emphasis in original). However, for some, nothing could soften the bands image enough.
Songs like “Per Aspera, Ad Inferi” revive comraderies long forgotten in the apostate. Elegant juxtaposition of Latin chants, distorted guitar, and catchy choruses give their music an uncomfortably universal appeal. Uncomfortable only for those uncertain of how to react to such things, though.
Not that Ghost doesn’t intentionally challenge popular mores. In “Jigolo Har Megiddo,” they sing “I am the one, lascivious; I am the son of one below; The progeny of beast of woe; And I am the one who comes into the daughters of men; Destroying all and make them want it again.” Whether their act is genuine or simply offensive is not really for me to decide. Regardless, I enjoy it, their metal and their spectacle. My feelings about the band are best concluded with the closing chant of Infestissumam, from the song “Monstrance Clocks”;
Come together, together as one,
Come together, for Lucifer’s son
so long as “Lucifer’s son” has a suitably subjective definition.
Indignities and indiscretions aside, the second album is a powerful work of pop-metal. It builds clearly from their heavier first album, giving a wide audience something to listen for. If one is willing to let assumptions lie unchallenged, Ghosts’ synthesis of the Catholic mass, pagan ritual, and positively brilliant songwriting make for an excellent show.