Swedish rock band Ghost's 2010 debut studio album Opus Eponymous is still considered to be the group's finest moment, and was nominated for a 2011 Grammis Award (the Swedish equivalent to the Grammy Awards) in the Best Hard Rock category.
A band rife with contradictions, Ghost (known as Ghost B.C. in the United States) preach extreme satanic viewpoints over surprisingly accessible heavy metal cum pop-driven hard rock. The bandmembers maintain a strict vow of anonymity, both on record and on-stage; they obscure themselves under monks' cowls, except for their lead singer, known only as Papa Emeritus (there have been three, each supposedly younger than the last and denoted by a successive Roman numeral, though it's the same singer). His appearance, synonymous with the band's image, is instantly recognizable with skull-faced makeup, cardinal robes, miter and thurible; his image is that of an anti-Pope.
Formed in 2008 in Linköping, Ghost began playing underground shows and sharpening their sound. Given their occult ritual-styled performances, their popularity with metal fans in their home country flourished. In 2010, they issued a three-track demo, followed by the single "Elizabeth", and both quickly sold out. Their debut album, Opus Eponymous, on Rise Above Limited, defied expectations with a surprisingly welcoming melodic sound, weaving together '60s psychedelia, '70s doom, and '80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and their reputation spread. They took to the road, touring internationally. They were forced to take the Ghost B.C. moniker in the U.S. because another band had laid claim to the name. Though it was a tad confusing, it didn't hurt their reputation for wildly theatrical performances, and their identities remained cloaked in mystery. After a long legal battle, they won the right to their name without the suffix.
Just how long Ghost's musicians will manage to keep their identities a secret even as their notoriety grows remains to be seen. A fan search of the Swedish Performing Rights Society's website revealed that Tobias Forge, formerly of Repugnant, has songwriting credits under the pseudonym "A Ghoul Writer."
Opus Eponymous is an extraordinary debut that slowly peels back surprise after surprise as you delve into its 35 minutes of music. Sure, the style is old-school, but it's musically very rich, often more subtle than riff-oriented, and as closing instrumental 'Genesis' proves, capable of moments of disarming beauty... just like how Rosemary's Baby is so much more frightening than Saw, Ghost's comparatively understated method proves to be far more effective, not to mention creepy as hell.
By all rights, one would expect a band that hails from a heavy metal hotbed like Sweden, signs with a British heavy metal label, and pens songs steeped in Satanic liturgy, then performs them in frightful disguises while maintaining secret identities, to be a heavy metal band. But Ghost's 2010 debut album, Opus Eponymous, confounds such expectations by rating no higher than a three or four out of ten on a third millennium scale of metallic heaviosity, if you catch the meaning. In other words, although its songs are rife with heavy metal's favorite subject matter and unmistakably menacing brand of staccato guitar riffing, the restraint of their attack, not to mention their production (no overdriven amplifiers are to be found here), hark back to what passed for a metallic aesthetic during the very early '80s, or even before.
- Cherry Red Sparkle Vinyl
- Gatefold Jacket
- Deus Culpa
- Con Clavi Con Dio
- Stand By Him
- Satan Prayer
- Death Knell
- Prime Mover