20th February 2016
Ghost & Dead Soul
It's been a cold, grey, and rainy February evening as the disciples of GHOST made their pilgrimage to Herford's “no name, no limits” night club known as the X. We came out to celebrate a black mass held by the masked and disguised clergy that is currently killing it in the world of heavy music bringing home one trophy after the other: four days before the gig, the diabolical music group of five Nameless Ghouls led by demon pope Papa Emeritus III had won “Best Metal Performance” at The Grammys prevailing against SLIPKNOT and LAMB OF GOD with their dramatic single ‘Cirice’.
And it would be four days after the gig at the X, that Papa E and his Ghouls would also get the Swedish Grammy award for “Hard Rock/ Metal Album of the Year”. After their successful and mostly sold out “Black to the Future Tour” in November/ December of 2015, the GHOST ministry came back to haunt Germany once more. Having enjoyed GHOST's characteristically well composed, heavy and at the same time eerily beautiful tunes for quite some time now, we couldn't wait to see and hear for ourselves how alluring and entertaining the theatrical occult rockers from Sweden are live on stage.
Before the worship would begin, GHOST brought along some compatriots to sound the bell for a promising musical evening full of diverse sounds: DEAD SOUL – originally a duo that creates unique “industrial doom blues” by merging the dark electronic tunes of musician and producer Niels Nielsen with some delta blues, which is the world of guitarist and vocalist Anders Landelius, and enriching these singular tunes by some crushing metal guitars. Mr Landelius is known for his blues project SLIDIN' SLIM that he has toured with extensively all across Scandinavia, Europe, and the US. Their band name represents the exciting synergy of sounds made by machine and tones made by man, of electronic music, on the one side, and organic blues, on the other. DEAD SOUL have presented this “unholy alliance” for the first time on their debut album ‘In the Darkness’ (2013). In October last year, their second genre-bending record ‘The Sheltering Sky’ was released via Anders Fridén's (IN FLAMES) Swedish label Razzia Notes and Century Media, the metal label founded in Dortmund, Germany. http://www.dead-soul.com / https://www.facebook.com/deadsoulofficial
Music & Performance
Half an hour earlier than expected, on the stroke of 7:30pm, the hauntingly beautiful intro of ‘Goodbye’ by APPARAT, the electro project of Sascha Ring from Berlin, filled the X. A DEAD SOUL trio hit the stage that was flooded with red lights starting to play the soothingly sombre and captivating ‘Kill the Past’ from their debut record. The exceptional vocalist Anders, a hatted gentleman in black with orange tinted sunglasses and a warm, charismatic voice, was accompanied by Niels and a second guitarist, Joakim Ekstrand; “Jocke” joined in the tour and also contributed to the synth sounds and backing vocals whenever he wasn't head-banging letting his longish hair fly. Both, Niels and Jocke, successfully managed to switch back and forth between plucking guitar strings and pushing keys next to singing along with Anders during the powerful choruses while heavy hitting drums and grooving bass lines resounded from tape. The following three songs picked from the latest album and three more from the first one showed us that it wasn't just vocally that the trio harmonized perfectly on stage while presenting their moody electronic metal retro blues.
Next up was a song at a faster pace, the new single called ‘The Fool’ from ‘The Sheltering Sky’. The guitar players rocked out and the crowd could enjoy an amazing guitar solo in the midsection. During the chorus Anders impressed us with his vocal range by also singing in a upper register when asking “How can I be...?”. While some of the audience were stock-still checking DEAD SOUL out, others nodded their heads, shook their hair and joined Niels and Jocke in answering “such a fool, such a fool, that's why you're / such a fool, such a fool, that's why you're...” During the following moody tune called ‘Shattered Dreams’, atmospheric tunes and heavy guitars surrounded Anders' characteristically soul-searching and pensive lyrics. Towards the end of this absorbing song, which arrested all attention, it dramatically built up to another bursts of noise created by Niels and Jocke. Applause! Then, the tranquil ‘Home by the Sea’ was presented as the final song from the current record. The three gents sang the gorgeous chorus quite beautifully together.
After this, DEAD SOUL switched back to their first record playing the propulsive ‘Do Your Job’ and the deeply moving ‘Lost my Will’. What can we say? Writing damn good music makes it easy to leave an impression. Finally, the band initiated the crowd to make some noise for GHOST who were listening and waiting backstage for their turn to bring their unholy psalms upon us. Fittingly, DEAD SOUL performed the religiously themed ‘Burn Forever’, a mighty song to close their performance while we were all drowning in hellish red light like at the beginning of the show. All in all, DEAD SOUL gave a great taste of their awe-inspiring sound spaces during their multi-faceted 30-minute set. One could say that the trio's performance aroused three different responses within the X-audience. Group one – the converted: DEAD SOUL grabbed the attention of some of those who hadn't heard of the band before this tour with GHOST and immediately dig their music. These new fans were happy to meet the amicable Swedes after the concert at the merch stall cheering “You were wonderful!” and were quite disappointed that the band didn't bring also some CDs that they could take home that evening.
Group two – the “ignorami”: DEAD SOUL left these guys slightly baffled with confusion. Was it due to mental overload on a Saturday night? We have no clue and cannot explain it. But the best of the arts has never been for the masses. And it is particularly not being a typical band of whatever genre which makes the listeners, who actually get a band's extraordinary musical offerings, appreciate the music even more. This leads us to group number three, which we are without a question part of – the devotees: those who had known and loved DEAD SOUL's pieces already before the show. The band was smiling at the crowd when spotting their fans singing along the lyrics. Without a shadow of a doubt the first and last group wished that it wasn't over so soon after seven magnetizing songs.
Goodbye (intro by Apparat) (Tape)
01. Kill the Past
02. The Fool
03. Shattered Dreams
04. Home by the Sea
05. Do Your Job
06. Lost my Will
07. Burn Forever
Total: 9 / 10
The true identity of this award winning theatrical pop metal project founded in 2008 remains shrouded in mystery. Their debut ‘Opus Eponymous’ was released in 2010 and three years later they spread their satanic themes further on ‘Infestissumam’. Their golden record ‘Meliora’, produced by Nick Raskulinecz (FOO FIGHTERS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, ALICE IN CHAINS) is the third accomplishment of the anonymous troupe was released last August via Spinefarm. This melodic opus has been widely praised even before its release and celebrated ever since by the fans and the press. What makes GHOST unique and entertaining is not only their distinctive stage look and celebratory performance as a demon pope and ghouls, but particularly their heavy rocking and catchy tunes on the theme of the sacrilegious, which sound poppy and eerie at the same time. The rituals of the occult rockers are in great demand. So, GHOST have extended their “Black to the Future Tour” to gather their disciples and celebrate their mass on stages across the globe. www.ghost-official.com / https://www.facebook.com/thebandghost
Music & Performance
Sacral chants of a cappella choir music resounded in the X setting a hauntingly churchy ambience as we all waited for GHOST to grace the stage. For example, there was ‘Miserere mei, Deus’ (“Have mercy on me, O God”) by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri, which is a polyphonic setting of Psalm 51 from the Bible. It's the famous piece which Mozart has written down from memory at the age of 14 when visiting a service in Rome. The liturgical music boosted the concertgoers eager anticipation to see the headliner even more. Rockers, metal heads, Goths, hipster teens, parents and their kids, fans wearing death metal face paint, and a guy with a giant pig mask with dreadlocks on top all stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the stage. GHOST truly unites. And so all kinds of music fans crowded together silently waiting for the ministry and gazing at the set decoration, a triptych with a devil figure in the centre. During the show this looked like a churchy glass painting when the different-coloured lights shone on it.
At last, the lights went off, the TAMA drum kit and the keyboard were uncovered from the black cloth that had hidden the instruments, and white fog arose as the five Nameless Ghouls hit stage playing ‘Spirit’. This uncanny opening track from ‘Meliora’ fitted perfectly to kick off the show as the spacey keyboards, the on-going organs, and a choir in the background during the chorus all create the vibes of an opening scene of some horror/Sci Fi flick. Each of the instrumentalists represented one of the five elements, namely fire, water, wind, earth, and ether and their silvery horned ghoul masks flashed in the light. Only from up close, in the photographer's pit and in the front rows, one could see the musician's eyes shining through from time to time. As ‘Spirit’ was played Papa Emeritus III made a dramatic entrance as he suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the midst of the white mist spreading his arms. The euphoric crowd went all ecstatic when finally seeing the vocalist in his black-purple-golden cardinal robe and Pope hat. Later on, he changed his demon pope attire into a dark circus director look in dandy style by wearing a black tailcoat with an golden buttons and an inverted cross on the chest with white gloves.
GHOST had their audience under their spell from the very start. The second track from ‘Meliora’, the powerful and punchy ‘From the Pinnacle to the Pit’ with its fiercely grooving bass line, a floating guitar solo on top, and a catchy chorus, called for a lot of head-banging. GHOST played eight out of ten songs from the new album. There was also ‘Devil Church’ with its infernal organs and choirs, the rocking ‘Absolution’ with its great riff, ‘Mummy Dust’ presenting a distorted keyboard riff and fast organs, and the popular single ‘Cirice’ with its atmosphere of sorrowful longing next to the propulsive heaviness as the chorus exploded again and again. The dreamy ‘Spöksonat’ was played from tape serving as a spooky interlude. The clergy left the stage for a minute to come back again and play one of the many highlights: The nostalgic sounding ballad ‘He Is’. For a change, the mosh pit in front of the stage took a break and everyone was enjoying the sweet vocals and some strings and piano of a love song – a hurricane of applause at the end of ‘He Is’.
From their first album ‘Opus Eponymous’, GHOST presented ‘Ritual’, ‘Con Clavi Con Dio’ and ‘Stand by Him’. During the latter Papa Emeritus distributed some holy smoke by swinging a chain thurible. Even though the heavenly smell of burned incense only reached those in the front, it's also visually an important part of the ceremony. Two “Sisters of Sin” were as well part of the show who fed the first row with host wafers and offered some wine from a goblet during ‘Body and Blood’. In addition to this song, the second album ‘Infestissumam’ was also represented by ‘Per Aspera ad Inferi’, ‘Ghuleh/ Zombie Queen’, and of course the smashing hit ‘Year Zero’ which made the crowd lose all control - “Hail Satan, Archangelo!” Two further highlights were the beautiful acoustic version of the ROKY ERICKSON cover ‘If You Have Ghosts’ and the encore song ‘Monstrance Clock’ which made the united GHOST army go berserk one final time.
On the whole: Wow, what a show! The only bad point we have is that the sound at the X wasn't as crystal clear as we wished it to be. And was there a playback Papa singing every once in a while? Apart from that, GHOST's ritual-like performance in Herford was outstanding: great musicians who showed that they're masters of their instruments and an incredibly enthusiastic audience knowing all lyrics, even the lines in Latin. That many hands in the air during a show was a rare sight. The gig proved that GHOST's theatrics obviously support the uncanny vibes in their music, but never overshadow their truly well written songs; every single one of them was feted by the crowd. The day after the show, one of the Nameless Ghouls thanked the “children of Herford” on GHOST's Facebook page for “an amazing night at the classic X”, which triggered countless likes and a ton of fan comments, all expressions of gratitude and devotion. On the whole, we can only say that Papa E and the Ghouls had succeeded in putting on a grand, ritual-like spectacle bringing joy and bliss. Both, the die-hard members of the GHOST army and new converts had a devilishly good time - “together as a one”!
02. From the Pinnacle to the Pit
03. Stand by Him
04. Con Clavi Con Dio
05. Per Aspera ad Inferi
06. Body and Blood
07. Devil Church
09. Year Zero
10. Spöksonat (Tape)
11. He Is
13. Mummy Dust
14. If You Have Ghosts (Roky Erickson cover) (Acoustic)
15. Ghuleh/ Zombie Queen
17. Monstrance Clock
Total: 8.75 / 10
All pictures by LAy