If Not For Those Satanic Lyrics, Ghost B.C. Could Be Superstars

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Ester Segarra
When a CD starts with "Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Satanas, Lucifer ... Hail Satan, Archangelo," and features the song titles "Per Aspera ad Inferi" (From Hardship to Hell) and "Depth of Satan's Eyes," it begs the question: "Is your band promoting Satanism?"

Said query was directed at a "Nameless Ghoul," one of two anonymous guitarists in Swedish metallers Ghost BC. His response? "From a Biblical [sic] belt point of view, yes we are. Because if you're talking to someone who is a very God-fearing devout Christian with all that comes with it, obviously that person would deem us being complete blasphemy and an abomination to everything they considered dear and holy."

In June 2011, the band's first NYC gig was at the Studio at Webster Hall. "We didn't even know we had fans here; it sold out, was like 100 over capacity. It was a defining moment for the band," remembers Ghoul.

In some ways, Ghost B.C. is very much like KISS--scary-ish costumes, catchy tunes that lean more pop than metal despite the mass perception, and their "Gene Simmons" in the person of the creepy, papally-garbed frontman Papa Emeritus II (the successor to the group's first singer, Papa Emeritus, though it's believed it's the same Papa donning a "new" character.) In fact, explains Ghoul, in his thoughtful, articulate manner and in excellent English, the band reveals so little about themselves they don't even sign autographs: "We have stamps with our signs." (Alchemical symbols in the vein of Jimmy Page's "Zoso" mark). They also try to enforce a "no pictures" policy when the band is in street garb. "Our mission is to become bigger, so it's a paradox," acknowledges Ghoul. "For every expansion you do, you automatically increase your risk of being exposed."
So far, fans are happy to play along, the faithful packing theaters to genuflect before their newly anointed musical heroes, with everyone in on and digging the joke.

So, how do they explain the success? Magickal? Are they followers of Aleister Crowley or proponents of Anton LaVey's The Satanic Bible? No. But that's not to say rituals aren't crucial to Ghost B.C.'s success, notes Ghoul. "We're not practicing any magic based on anything that's written. However, what we're doing as a group, and what we're doing onstage, has close resemblance to any sort of divine moment, the divinity that they traditionally always wanted to make appear in Mass [or is that en mass?] and in the church environment, or any sort of religion where people gather in a group to achieve a feeling of spirituality together. That's what we're trying to do aesthetically," Ghoul explains. "We're playing with the whole idea of a religious gathering, so yes, we are partaking in rituals all the time."

While schtick it may be--and a strict schtick--Ghoul affirms: "We can play around a lot with our Papa, with us changing him every time. There's a flexibility in all that anal-ness," he laughs. And it's fully realized, entertaining as, er, hell. Plus, they have the songs to back it up. If it wasn't for lyrics like "Receive, consume ... digest, defecate" in "Body and Blood," the tune could be a pop hit. Or, as Ghoul concludes, "as our label says, 'if it wasn't for those Satanic lyrics..." Yes, and if wishes were horses...

Ghost B.C. play Sunday, July 28, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.


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Music Hall of Williamsburg

66 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, NY

Category: Music

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8 comments
jlh571
jlh571

The devil appears as an angel of light and sadly all of his schemes lead to lies and destruction. I know because i have lived it. The simple fact that if you listen to something long enough you start to believe it has not changed since the beginning of time. The perfect example was hitler and remember your reality begins in your mind and heart.

hahahaaa
hahahaaa

Ghost is a cool band. Who cares about religion. 

crazytrain7114
crazytrain7114

"Mainstream" and Music are mutually exclusive. You keep listening to popular, we'll keep listening to Music. I have 8 gigs on a flash that they will never hear of. I'm cool with that

harlequindevon
harlequindevon

Oh please. The idea that Ghost could become superstars is just a pipe dream for metal heads who haven't touched the radio in years to know what is currently popular. 


Overdriven guitar rock is dead to the mainstream music fan that is supposed to make Ghost huge. No amount of pop structures and vocal harmonies will fix that. The lyrics are just the final inverted cross on the coffin.

meairton
meairton

@harlequindevonWho knows if Ghost actually have a shot at mainstream stardom.  But in any event, many before you have made the same claim about guitar rock during the sixty years of its life so far, and they've all been proven wrong.  Time and time again.  One of the earliest being Decca Recording Company's comment that "we don't like their music, and guitar groups are on their way out" -- when they turned down the Beatles.

As for the "pipe dreams of metalheads"... Heavy metal has more than proven its resilience in its 43 years of existence.  It's outlasted punk, disco, grunge, Britpop and boy bands, to name a few.  Mainstream acceptance of heavy metal, meanwhile, has happened many times in the past (KISS, glam metal, Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Korn/Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson, to name a few).  There's no rational reason to think it can't and won't happen again.

Fortunately, if there's one thing its strength and resilience have demonstrated, it's that heavy metal doesn't NEED mainstream acceptance to survive and thrive.  At heart, it flourishes on the fringes of the mainstream.  It's outsider music for outsiders, and there's a lot of outsiders in the world.  People who appreciate mainstream acceptance when it happens, but certainly don't require it.  And because they're not in the mainstream spotlight, it's easy for the mainstream to think they're not there.  Or as Rob Zombie put it, "it's so f***ing huge... and yet a lot of people don't even know it exists."

Guess what?  Just because you can't hear metalheads, it doesn't mean they're not there.  It just means they're not speaking to you.

And in the meantime, heavy metal has become a global cultural force all on its own.  Just ask the 70,000+ metalheads who attended this year's Wacken Open Air festival in Germany from all over the world.  Ask the Iranian fans who defy the Basij ("morality police") to spray paint "Slayer" on walls in Tehran.  Ask the 60,000 Indonesian fans who jammed a stadium in Jakarta in August to see Metallica.  Ask the 40,000 Indian fans who saw Iron Maiden play in Bangalore in 2007 for the first time.  Go to any country you like, and you'll find metalheads, wearing their black t-shirts and flashing the devil horns. 

One Direction, Fun., Mumford & Sons, Justin Bieber, Macklemore... we'll see how many of them still have mainstream acceptance -- or much public profile at all -- in ten years' time.  And I'll bet you dollars to donuts that heavy metal will still be there, going strong.

roncam84
roncam84

@harlequindevon yep and you know why because rap has disbanded real music call it want you want but in  reality we are the real musicians just saying. 

harlequindevon
harlequindevon

@roncam84 @harlequindevon 

I'm a huge fan of Ghost and "real music", I just get annoyed when people get so deluded into thinking that Ghost is going to the biggest band in the world. 

It worked with KISS because it was the 70's and it was a totally different musical climate. Sure there was a bunch of shitty pop, but guitar solos and heavy riffs were appreciated rather than scoffed at. 

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