Photo Credit, Dirt Junior
Swedish satanists Ghost, known as Ghost B.C. here in the U.S. due to legal issues performed to a spellbound sold out crowd that included Ghost collaborator Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl at the El Rey Theater last Monday. Lead vocalist Papa Emeritus II, who was garbed in his customary papal robes, a cardinal’s hat, leather gloves and skeletal face paint, lead the ritual which began at precisely 10PM.
The dark room went even darker as the haunting chants of ‘Infestissumam,’ the band’s title track off their new album of the same name, filled our ears and one by one the band members known only as the ‘Nameless Ghouls’ took up their instruments on the stage and launched right into things.
At 10:05PM a light hit the Nameless Ghoul playing guitar stage left, shredding in his black robes, mask and stylish black leather dress shoes, a seemingly strange but fitting complement to the Nameless Ghoul wardrobe, and seconds later Papa emerged blowing a kiss to his congregation below, and holding his hands up to the heavens or his own personal hell, who knows, opened his lips and sang ‘Lucifer, we are here for your praise evil one,’ the sweet first words to ‘Con Clavi Con Dio’ off their breakthrough first album Opus Eponymous. Immediately the crowd was enraptured and falling under Satan’s spell
“Good evening Los Angeles” Papa II told us in his accented English between songs as he performed ‘Prime Mover’ and then the catchy Countess Bathory-inspired ‘Elizabeth’ both off their first album, before getting back into the new Ghost with ‘Secular Haze’ the first single from Infestissumam. Things continued in a similar fashion with our Father Emeritus II gliding along the stage, majestic, never breaking from his stately, popely character for one single second during the entire set. The Nameless Ghouls were energetic, particularly the guitarists and bass player who managed to seemingly shred their way through every song, even the ones that did not call for it. Their performance was effortless, despite being clothed in cloaks that probably did not give them the best maneuverability, and having their faces masked in black. But the focal point would always be him, Papa Emeritus II, the Skeleton Pope of a strange Cult of the Catholic Church that somehow inverted everything Catholic to become everything Satanic.
‘Stand by Him’, ‘Death Knell’ and the epically catchy invocation ‘Satan’s Prayer’ were up next and then Papa spoke, “So anybody want to hear a new f**ker,” it sounded like he was asking in his Swedish broken English, “Do you?” he demanded to know. The crowd loudly submitted to him yes, with screams of ‘Hail Satan, F**k you Satan’ and ‘Lucifer’ coming from Papa II’s ‘children’ below as he said “so stare into the eyes, the Depths of Satans Eyes” and another new track ‘Depth of Satan’s Eyes’ was begun.
But next up was the one song that we had all been waiting for. For a moment Papa II stepped away from the stage and there were fears running through the audience that could this be it? But then that familiar chanting began, ‘Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Satanas, Lucifer,’ and the crowd went absolutely crazy with ecstatic revelry as they absorbed the intro to Ghost’s newest single the sinfully good ‘Year Zero.’ The highlight of the night, this track saw smoke on stage and singing along from almost the entire crowd. It began to feel almost as if we were in attendance at a Satanist’s Convention rather than a rock show and that the congregation was in the middle of invoking a black mass, either wittingly or not, and that we could expect the dark Lord Lucifer himself to appear in one of those plumes of smoke as if summoned by our chants.
However it did not happen then or during the next track the almost as epic ‘Ritual,’ but the feeling did not go away. And how could it, with Papa II dominating the stage, head held high, and leading the way, with Nameless Ghouls in tow. But then darkness descended and the Ghouls and their Lord left the stage until upon their return they gave us one final offering, off Infestissumam, the aptly titled ‘Monstrance Clock’. ‘You know they say that we shouldn’t leave like this but I think we should, to finish this off thank you very much,” Papa concluded his speech of the night with before leaving us with the lyrics “Come together, together as one…” Then, with guitar picks thrown by a Nameless Ghoul or two for supremely lucky fan, and the music slowly fading into the ether, the show was over. The clergy had spoken. And all who witnessed Ghost B.C. in their finest of glories there in Los Angeles on a Monday night in the middle of April would never be the same again.