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Ghost makes the underworld seem so pleasant

Written by Scott Mervis on .

Ghost3Papa Emeritus II by Rich Frollini Coda PhotographyAnd the winner for "Band That Looks Least like it Sounds" goes to ... Ghost.

The Swedish group dresses for a black mass with five Nameless Ghouls and an evil pope, Papa Emeritus II, but rather than sounding like a Darkthrone or a Mayhem, Ghost sounds like they were weaned on Blue Oyster Cult records, with their smooth vocals and melodic synched guitars.

The band, which played Stage AE on Good Friday, does add the touch of piped-in choral vocals in the "Carmina Burana" vein and Latin lyrics praising Lucifer.

It's a thrill when the lights go down and they emerge in full regalia, before their stained-glass cathedral backdrop, with "Infestissumam Per Aspera," the orchestral lead track from their second and latest album.

Even with black hoods and masks covering their faces, the musicianship is tight and Papa, who creeps around the stage with ceremonial gestures, is a gifted singer -- although you could hear multiple voices and he was the only one who appeared to be singing.

The problem with Ghost is that several songs in, the thrill fades and the energy starts to lag. A couple times, the musicians gathered center stage to jam but they don't move around much and Papa's interaction with the crowd is basically along the line of "Good evening. How are you feeling, Pittsburgh?" in a funny accent.

They broke up the set with their darkly plodding cover of "Here Comes the Sun" and later washed Roky Erickson's "If You Have Ghosts" in melody. I couldn't help but think about Kiss concerts, though, where you're sitting there going, "I can wait till Gene does ... "

ghostsetYou want Ghost to breathe fire (although you can't do that in a club) or spit blood or burn incense or sacrifice a crowd member or something evil. Maybe they should hire Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper or Marilyn Manson as their horror-prop consultant.

Ghost4Even with a sing-along climax of "Come together, together as one/come together for Lucifer's son," Ghost makes the underworld seem so darn pleasant.

 

 

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