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Masked Balls And Papal Bull: Ghost B.C. Interviewed Toby Cook , April 29th, 2013 13:08
Toby Cook talks to a Nameless Ghoul from the none-more-entertaining Ghost B.C.
Do you exist? Do any of us really exist? Sure, we think, we have a tangible physical presence, and therefore we ‘are’, right? But what about those things with a less tangible or constantly shifting physical presence? What about those entities with no physical mass whatsoever? Sound; Batman; UDFj-39546284 , the stellar structure reported as the oldest and furthest object detected via the Hubble space telescope – does that exist even though the source of the light we perceive ceased to exist in a physical sense aeons before the Earth was even formed? How do we really define what’s real and what isn’t; is it even that important? Does the mere fact that the idea of God has become so deeply ingrained in society and so universally recognised as a concept mean that he/she/it actually does exist even though he/she/it doesn’t actually, y’know, exist?
Am I going fucking crazy?
And what about secretive Swedish enigma Ghost B.C. – do they exist? Physically, yes, they exist – five men in masked and hooded habits (the Nameless Ghouls) and one decrepit papal figure who looks like a cross between Skeletor and the Pope (Papa Emeritus II). But who’s behind the masks? Do we know; will we ever know and should it even matter? In a world where everything from a person’s address and date of birth, to their holiday pictures to their darkest secrets to their most trivial, insignificant thoughts are willingly published online - don’t we need a bit of mystery, a bit of theatre and cryptic escapism?
First appearing on Fenriz of Darkthrone’s legendary Band Of The Week blog, Ghost emerged from the darkest pits of hell (well, Rise Above Records) to become one of the most admired and talked about bands in rock back in 2010 with the release of the stunning Opus Eponymous . It was a record that masterfully coalesced the Hammer Horror-like theatrics of an Alice Cooper show with the riffs of Blue Öyster Cult and Blue Cheer and the sort of melodies The Beatles would’ve been proud of. And it’s perhaps their staunch commitment to anonymity and mystery that has helped the band achieve the unexpected success they’re currently enjoying – not to mention garnering them gushing praise from the likes of Phil Anselmo and James Hetfield.
Regardless of what sense they may or may not actually exist in, interviews with the band are tricky things; they are conducted in costume and with their voices disguised. Nonetheless after the release of Opus Eponymous ’s grand yet gothic follow up, Infestissumam , The Quietus though it high time we caught up with one of the Nameless Ghouls to get some answers. Although, in true Ghost B.C. fashion, the start of our interview is somewhat delayed…
Nameless Ghoul: Sorry to keep you waiting, we have had ritual chores to attend to.
No problem. Y’know, it’s funny you say that; as we speak tonight they have announced a new pope, Pope Francis I think – what are your thoughts on that? I suppose as sons of Satan you’ve been following the story pretty closely?
NG: Yeah, well, obviously we had a candidate in-house here who has not really been himself for the last month or so – basically because he had signed up to do the job with us but upon hearing that there was a vacancy he was having second and probably third thoughts as well. So now it’s sort of over and he has accepted that he needs to commit to what we’re doing, everything is pretty much proceeding as normal again; we’re sort of relieved.
And I suppose Papa Emeritus would really have been perfect – he’s already somewhat of a papal figure – I’m sure you’re happy to have him still in the band but surely he could’ve brought a lot to the Catholic Church that has been missing?
NG: Probably, sometimes it’s actually frightening how similar we are [laughs]! We’re singing about doom, preaching about mean things and overall just being a little bit unpleasant. And yeah, with his authoritative nature and machismo, yeah, he would’ve been perfect! He would have been a very colourful addition to the Vatican, I’m sure.
I’ve no doubt – and they have something of a track record for hiring guys who are pretty decrepit and Papa is basically a corpse!
NG: Ah, well you’re probably thinking about Papa I, he was slightly older and a bit more decrepit, as you say, whereas Papa II is slightly younger and he’s a little bit more, err, limber [laughs].
And I suppose the irony is, without wanting to get too deep, is that that as evil as Ghost are – and Papa I and II are – there are a great many evils perpetrated by the Catholic Church that are even worse.
NG: Well yeah, it is very ironic in many ways. But that’s the thing, many people have this concept of Ghost as being like a complete inversion of the church, whereas what we’ve actually done is just taken the church and painted a moustache on it [laughs]. We’re basically doing the same thing that they have been for aeons; we’re saying the same thing, just without a filter – the basic content is more or less the same.
Just with better guitar work…
NG: Exactly, exactly like that. But that’s the only difference!
As I understand it there was a pretty lengthy gestation period with Ghost, where you created the image and the ethos etc, but certainly to most of the outside world you seemed to appear overnight – how much pressure, if any, did that level of fame effect the band when creating the new record?
NG: Well, writing the new record was actually relatively painless because most of it was written between the release of the first record – although a very little bit was written even before the first record – but mostly it was written between the release of the first record and probably September 2011, because before we went on our first European tour – the big one between November and December 2011 – we had demoed all the tracks for the record, except for one song which was a sort of late addition, before recording the ‘real’ album almost a year later.
So at that point we were still on Rise Above and we had the intention of recording the album as soon as possible, just after the European tour which would probably have been over the shift of the year 2011 to 2012. But because we then did a north American tour, and then upon coming back we were offered a second one, that made us spend almost the first half of the year in the US, touring. And then later management, the old label and ourselves were pretty much in agreement that if we were going to do this maybe it would be wise to seek out a new home for the band – and that took time so the whole recording was sort of postponed and when the time came to actually record, which was in October last year, the material had been with us for almost a year. Obviously we knew about the pressure of creating a record that had to live up to 'x' amount of expectations, but we weren’t staring at a blank piece of paper – we knew what this record was going to be about and we knew that the content was this. But this thing is that also, as with the visual aesthetic of the band and all that, we have a sort of cinematic, theatrical conceptual idea of our releases. So it was easier to look at the release in more of a conceptual way; regardless if we had other ideas in the meantime that could go on album number three we had album number two sort of finalised in terms of knowing which direction we wanted to head in.
You had quite a big promotional push behind the track ‘Secular Haze’, with the dedicated web page releasing individual parts of the song at a time, etc – how upset or disappointed were you at the comparatively lukewarm reception it got?
NG: Not at all really. As far as people are interested in hearing a ‘hit’, we knew that ‘Secular Haze’ is not what you would call a radio track…
Well yeah, I mean, it’s quite a daring idea to write a metal tune in a waltz time.
NG: Yeah, I guess so! But I mean, we weren’t really thinking about that, all we knew was that we were most likely going to be in a position where the only addition we could make to our set for a few months was this song; so we wanted to present a song from the new record that sort of stood on its own but without being too far off from the first record – although neither did we want it to sound too much like a song off the first record. So it wasn’t like we chose the most ritual sounding song from the record that we hoped to be the big radio song, we chose a song that was sort of compelling in the set that we had – we felt that ‘Secular Haze’ was a good song to sort of be presented, without being safe; basically we didn’t want to present something that was ‘safe’, it would have been much safer to present one of the other songs from the new record. Have you heard the record?
Yes, although I only got it this morning – it certainly is one that stands out, especially being in waltz time. But that wasn’t a particular goal when you were writing the track then?
NG: Well, again, both ‘Con Clavi Con Dio’ and ‘Genesis’ from the first record are also waltzes, they’re just speeded up! So it’s not that far off, we just slowed it down this time – we didn’t think of it as something that was completely weird. But then again we are hiding in the comfort of the darkness of our ministerial cave here, so what do we know!
We mentioned it briefly that Papa I has been replaced by Papa II – what’s the story there, was it just time for Papa I to be getting his bus pass?
NG: Yeah, his golden clock – and off he went! But yeah, actually, that was more or less it – we have a succession thing going and his time was up. A new era has begun, so enter a new Pope. And yes, that will happen again.
There are those who seem intent on unmasking you – what do you think of those people, does it aggravate you? And isn’t it missing the point of what the band are trying to do?
NG: No, I mean we are in the lucky position of being a band who try to go somewhere and we have a lot of reactions to most of the things what we do – even if people are deliberately trying to dismantle the band, they invest a lot of time and do it in public. This just adds to the benefit to us in many ways. I mean, in every discussion about the band there are a lot of naysayers who are adamant in expressing their disbelief in the band and that just proves that we mean more to them than they mean to us; it’s just the nature of it. In the sense that people want to unmask the band, we know that it cannot and won’t last – not that the anonymity thing won’t last, but the band won’t last forever. We can never expect anything to be solid and nowadays when the media and the viral world works the way it does, where everybody needs to know everything all the time and first hand, it’s just a matter of time, especially for a band like us – we’re an anonymous band but we’re rising above the radar, or however you might want to put it, we’re succeeding at becoming a bigger band, so we know it’s just a question of time before somebody fucks us up!
Do you ever contemplate, a long way down the road, that if you see that someone has successfully worked out who’s who in the band, unmasking yourselves – like when KISS dropped the makeup? Or even going the other way and coming good on your idea to unmask Paul McCartney as Papa when you play ‘Here Comes The Sun’?
NG: In the sense of putting someone else underneath the mask and the unveiling that person? Yes, we’ve thought of that, obviously, that’s funny, and that’s the nature of what we’re doing. Having said that though I assume it would be a lot more fun if we could remain anonymous. But I think that in the event that somebody made a sort of ‘reliable exposure’ of the band, or exposé, I still think that it doesn’t really matter that much. It would be way worse if we came out by calling you [the media] to say, "hey, you want a scoop?" And then we co-operated on a story, saying, "yeah, ok, it’s us behind the masks." That would be weak. That would be very, very poor. Whereas if it becomes more commonly known who we are under our masks without us revealing it… as long as we don’t change the show I don’t think it’s a huge deal. But if it went from what we’re doing live now to all of a sudden us unmasked and drinking beers on stage and making tits and ass jokes between the songs, that would suck. I can’t see us ever ‘doing a KISS’, no. I simply can't picture Ghost as a band performing without the imagery because that is how we always envisioned the band. That’s the vision and that’s what the songs sort of ‘told us’, if you like. That’s also what spawned the whole idea of the band in the first place. We had a group of songs, and in order to make those songs believable we saw this horror rock show and within that context everything in that box became real. Without that sort of veil over it it’s not real, it’s not magical. So I see no reason for us to do anything in a Ghost context, at least performance wise, in any other context than what we’re doing now – then if people know who the actors or musicians are under the masks then I don’t think it’s that important. I mean, do you know who played Darth Maul? Do you know that person? It’s the same thing. Same with Darth Vader. Darth Vader is one guy in a suit, and the voice is James Earl Jones; he isn’t real, but he is – both you and I know who he is, he exists but he isn’t real.
You’ve produced some pretty unique cover versions – The Beatles’ ‘Here Come The Sun’ and Abba’s ‘I’m A Marionette’ particularly. How do you select the tracks that you are going to cover, and how do you manage it pull it off without it veering in to wackiness, like Alien Ant Farm’s ‘Smooth Criminal’, for example?
NG: That’s a good question. And it’s a hard one to answer because I’m obviously not impartial; I’d like to believe that with both our covers, but especially with ‘Here Comes The Sun’, there’s a nakedness to it and there’s almost a frailty that sort of justifies things that, were they presented in a different way might come across as too humorous or not serious. Obviously a lot of things we do, in general, are very tongue in cheek, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not real, or that it doesn’t have a deeper meaning. And I’m just glad that that shines through in a way that people don’t feel that we’re taking the piss out of these songs – they’re very much a tribute to them, we just happened to have made a sport out of finding, well, they’re two very well known songs, but finding an angle and sort of pastiche that makes them absurd in a way.
The track ‘I’m A Marionette’ almost feels more like a Ghost song than an ABBA song; at the risk of sounding clichéd you’ve really made it your own. I think if people didn’t know ABBA it would be easy to mistake it for one of your own rather than a Swedish pop tune. Did that come into your thinking? What’s the song selection process like?
NG: Now, as we’ve recorded a bunch of songs that are covers – and there are even more songs that will be out in the future – we have sort of found a modus operandi for working with that type of material and a few of the prerequisites we like. I’m not saying these are guidelines to be followed strictly to the letter, but first of all it has to be a great song that allows us to find another way to create, one way or another, an amendment or enhancement – which does not necessarily make it better, but it has to have some sort of its own identity. I mean, hearing another punk band do ‘Sonic Seducer’ in a rocky, distorted way, or ‘Search And Destroy’, it will just sound like another version of that song, so we’re really trying to add another identity to the song as if it were one of ours to begin with. And obviously it has to have a lyrical theme that would somehow fit into what Papa is. I’ll give you an example of a song that nobody has heard us do yet, and you won’t hear us do for a while: do you remember the band Army Of Lovers? Do you remember a song called ‘Crucified’? If not, after we’re done, Google it; we’ve done a cover of that.
It’s interesting that you talk about the commercial aspect of the band because in a pretty short space of time you gained some pretty notable and influential fans – Phil Anselmo and James Hetfield to name two – how weird was it to hear such praise coming from people like that? And I suppose, with the greatest of respect, it probably didn’t hurt your popularity either did it.
NG: Well, the popularity of this band is pretty much based on having advocates like that – the first one being Fenriz of course, who pushed the band from nothing to something; Phil Anselmo has been like a general, keeping all the troops moving and I guess James is probably the King who gave us the keys to the kingdom – and there have been a handful of others too… I feel bad about forgetting a lot of other people, but looking back on our short career so far we’re amazed by how lucky we are that it’s come to this point, because if it wasn’t for these people adopting us and pushing us up the ladder I think it would have been extremely hard to get to the place that we’ve gotten to because, well, frankly, we weren’t on a major label when we released our first album. I’m not saying that being on a major label is the only way to success, but considering how things look today and how over-saturated the market is, it’s close to completely impossible to break through. And there were a lot of stars – no pun intended – that aligned for us to get from wherever we were to wherever we are now and hopefully to catapult us to wherever we’re going – and that makes us humble.
And just how evil are you anyway?
NG: On a scale between three and 16 our evil is probably around 7 – and that’s the worst, that’s when it gets really bad. We’re the baddest, evilest motherfuckers who ever fucked a mother.
Infestissumam is out now on Island
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The theatrical Swedish band Ghost B.C. discuss Satan, Dave Grohl, major labels, and their new album Infestissumam
- by Brandon Stosuy Contributor
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The Swedish band Ghost formed in 2008 and released their studio debut, Opus Eponymous , two years later. It was a collection of vintage “Satanic” heavy rock that evoked bands like Mercyful Fate, Witchfinder General, and Blue Oyster Cult. If you were going by appearances-- the highly theatrical group dresses in hooded robes with vocalist Papa Emeritus II decked out like a skeleton wearing a Pope's cap-- you might suspect they’d sound more extreme, but Ghost basically play occult pop music featuring chirpy hooks about things like human sacrifice, Elizabeth Bathory, and the Dark Lord. (For what it’s worth, the Japanese edition included a cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”.)
Due in part to that pop appeal, as well as the curiosity surrounding their anonymity and aesthetic, they gained high-profile fans like Dave Grohl and James Hetfield, signed a reportedly lucrative deal with Universal, recorded an ABBA cover with Grohl, and found themselves on the losing end of a lawsuit that forced them to change their name to Ghost B.C. in the U.S. You don’t see this happening everyday in underground metal.
It all leads up to their anticipated second album, Infestissumam , out April 16 via UMG’s Loma Vista. (You can currently stream the album on Pitchfork Advance .) They recorded the 10-song collection with the Grammy-winning producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, QOTSA, Alice in Chains) in his Nashville studio.
You can, of course, do research online and figure out the band member’s identities, and it’s easy to poke holes in their philosophies, but it’s more fun having a conversation on the phone with a guy named Nameless Ghoul on his own terms. (Everyone in the group is a “Nameless Ghoul,” outside of Papa.) Even if you’re not a fan of the music, the push for this cloaked, theatrical sort of rock music on such a large scale, is appreciated.
I caught up with a Nameless Ghoul via telephone, his kid crying in the background. Papa answered questions later via email.
Pitchfork: You recorded the new album with a Grammy-award winning producer in Tennessee. On paper, that seems like a strange choice. How’d you decide to go that route?
Nameless Ghoul: I don’t think it’s so weird, because we’ve always made a thing out of our band having the intention to go forward. And it comes with the territory. If you do a record with a bit more means, it might be a good move to bring in someone to work with you. Obviously there are producers and there are producers. Labels usually want to work with that kind of producer, because they know that artists they throw their way will end up in a certain package. Whereas we were open to working with a producer that goes another way.
Nick just happens to be one of those that, regardless of the band that he works with, he always ends up making that band’s record. I mean, when he works with Rush he makes a really good Rush album, if he works with Alice in Chains, he makes a good Alice in Chains record. And that’s what I think the case with our record is. That was the reason why we wanted to work with him, and that probably goes hand-in-hand with the surprise that you were talking about. Obviously we didn’t want to change anything with our sound, but we didn’t want to miss out on any potential that we might have that we might be missing out on, because it’s always easy to lose track of what you’re doing, when you don’t have anybody coming in with an objective view.
Pitchfork: You’ve said you wanted to make an album that sounds like an expensive record that came out in 1978. Do you think you succeeded here?
NG: I think that we did so even more than on the first, because there are so many things that we did on the first record that-- I’m not gonna slag it, because I like it, and it is what it is. But I think that a lot of the things that Nick brought in, in the form of expertise that we knew half of, he brought in the last piece of the puzzle, like, “I was listening to your first record, and I think the kind of snare that you are looking for is actually this, because if you wanted it to sound like this you need to do it like that.” It’s like, “Ohhh, that’s why we never really got there.”
What we’re doing is semi-archeological and in that sense we are going backwards, because we wanted it to sound classical, and that goes hand-in-hand with collecting records, that goes hand-in-hand with listening to stuff in earphones. And the whole idea of how sordid, polluted, the music had seemed in the last 10 years. “Everybody can record for nothing at home,” that is just total bullshit. You can make music at home, yes, but there’s always a better sound that you can accomplish when you go to a real studio, when you have real microphones, when you have a real mixing table, and expertise most of all. You can give the most expensive guitar to an asshole and he will make it sound like pure crap. But being in a real studio with a really accomplished engineer and a producer that’s willing to make the best of what you are, that feels very comforting. We were given a chance to do that, we wanted to.
Pitchfork: Ghost are the first high profile “Satanic” band on a major label in a long time. It makes me think of the heyday of hair metal. How’d you hook up with Universal?
NG: Well, first off it was Tom Whalley who was interested in the band. I’m not really sure if there was someone in like, proper Universal that was interested in us, but Tom Whalley used to be the head honcho of Warner Bros. and was looking to start his own label, which ended up being an imprint of Universal. I think he has an ear for bands, he was on Interscope back in the days when they were really sort of eclectic and they found new acts that nowadays are big, of course. I mean, he signed Primus at the time, Helmet, and back then he also signed bands like Marilyn Manson and Tupac Shakur.
He basically approached us saying that he wanted to work with the band, but that we were basically going to be the first band on his imprint, and that seemed like a good challenge. Obviously we are in a band that, because of the content of what we’re doing and the context, is not really associated with what usually goes on within the confines of a major label. We felt that we might be self-conscious about making that move, but knowing his background, having someone like that, having him be an advocate for our band, within a big organization like Universal, felt like the closest thing you can get to being on an independent without being on an independent.
I know it’s a weird thing and we questioned it several times, like “Do you know what we’re doing? Have you taken that into consideration?” And that is one of the things that is so weird when you’re on a major label, because a major label is so big, whereas if you’re an independent label, they just branch out to distributors. Distributors themselves can be opinionated, to some extent. But when you’re on a major label, they have to internally reach out to every internal office. Where obviously the regional offices of each country might specialize in something different. I mean, Universal in Sweden have always been sort of rock- and pop-oriented, while the one in Hungary might be completely oriented by their national folk music, so they know nothing about a band like us. But I think that one reason why we were able to make that change is that we have achieved a certain degree of some sort of success already. They knew beforehand that it was not going to be starting over from scratch. We’re not big, but at least we don’t have to start from scratch.
Pitchfork: Right. It’s interesting you mention Helmet. I remember years ago when Helmet signed with Interscope, and there was all this talk about them getting a million dollars or something. People in the “underground” were taken aback by it or had issues with it. I don’t know if you can disclose it, but is it true that you guys got $750,000 to sign? Either way, is it something you’ve gotten backlash for? I think it’s different in 2013, but at one point, it’s something people would get up in arms about.
NG: Well, I can tell you this much: We didn’t get $750,000. And what that cost us, people knowing that, felt that they knew that was a truth, and that is what eventually ended up being the addition of the awful “B” in the “B.C.,” you know? Because up until then there was never an issue or anything, but as soon as that came it was like “Oh, they have money, hmm.” And obviously that was something that was spread out by one of the other competitors. That sort of were there for the so-called bidding war, and when they lost it, they spread that rumour to cause a little trouble.
I think that one of the reasons we haven’t seen a total backlash from our fans is that we have never, ever painted a picture of our band being anything other than interested in moving forward. And we’ve been very, very clear about this from day one. That we want to be a big band, in the aspect that we’re able to do a huge production. And in order to do so we need to make certain moves, because it goes without saying that if you want to fill a big room, you need to have a certain pull, you need to have a certain draw. And in order to achieve that draw you need to be commercially successful to some extent. That’s why, I believe, that when that rumor got out, when we did sign to a major, it wasn’t really such a big deal, because we have never really manifested any moral codes to live by that we broke. Whereas I guess a Helmet, from an underground circuit, would have been judged differently, because it’s sort of a betrayal of the moral codes of their background scene or something.
But I’m underground-rooted, so I completely understand the whole thing. I’ve been 18 years old, I’ve hated bands. So much. I’ve been extremely judgmental, and the younger-me still believes in those things sometimes, but the older self sort of looks back of that and is like, “Come on.” But I know instinctively what it means.
__Pitchfork: Is reaching non-metal fans a goal? __
NG: We never really saw ourselves as a clean metal band. Obviously we are a hard rock band, but we never tried to be part of the scene. The idea was never really a matter of contributing to a scene as it was contributing to entertainment, if that makes sense. We set out to be an entertainment act. Whereas in other bands, and especially bands from when I was younger, seemed to be part of a movement. And that’s why I feel that there’s a clear difference. Then it turned out that there was a movement that was regarded contemporary and was labeled “The Rise of Occult Rock,” which we weren’t really aware of at that point. It might have helped us, and we might have helped the wave, but that was never the idea.
For us, being able to reach people over the boundaries of a metal crowd, that’s just a necessary thing that you need to do and that doesn’t bother us. Our home turf is the metal crowd or the hardcore crowd. So, from a personal aspect, we had to get used to people not moving so much when they saw us in the beginning. Because people were confused. Especially when we played proper metal festivals where, as a sign of devotion to the band, the crowd move in a violent way. When we play, it causes some sort of meltdown because they don’t know how to act. We’re not headbanging music, and these guys cannot really dance. So it’s some sort of drunken three o’clock headbang-dancing going on. And for us as band members, being used to having a very vivid crowd, that sometimes felt weird in the beginning, because it felt like, “Why are they just staring at us? Oh yeah, we’re dressed up, yeah, we look kinda weird.” But that was the point, but that took some time getting used to, that we’re an entertainment thing now, and we’re not there to say “Fuck yeah!” between songs. We’re not there to tongue-kiss the crowd, or throw our t-shirts out, or throw ourselves into the crowd.
But there was more discussion about this a few years ago when we went from being super-underground to actually being recognized for anything, where we were questioned: “What? Do you want to get into the mainstream?” “Yeah.” “Okay.” And everybody seemed kind of fine with it. Even the most anal of metal-peddlers were quite okay with us doing so. But I think it goes back to what I was saying in the first place, because we never set out to be anything else than just a big entertainment thing, an entity. And in order to do so we need to appeal.
Pitchfork: In a way, Dave Grohl, who you’ve worked with, is the mainstream version of [Darkthrone’s] Fenriz. This guy who’s supportive of other bands, and champions them. Fenriz, who championed Ghost early on, is doing it for the underground. Grohl, the mainstream. How did you guys end up hooking up with Grohl, and how did he end up on the ABBA cover?
NG: The whole thing began with when we were facing the schedule of going to Nashville in October last year. We also had a bunch of covers demoed. We know that we wanted to specialize in “funny covers,” like we did with “Here Comes the Sun”. And everything was kind of set: We knew when we were going to Nashville, we knew when the album is done, we knew exactly what we were doing, we knew we were going to do it with Nick, and there was this issue where we have these other five songs, and were wondering, "Are we going to try and squeeze that into the record?" You know you’re supposed to record the album and then some extra stuff, there’s always something that is going to end up being not so well treated, just because you don’t have enough time and you’re in the studio the last day with one, full, more song to record. And sometimes that makes miracles, and sometimes that makes complete “crap-acles,” you know?
Those the real B-sides, and you end up releasing them in the end anyways just because you have them and there’s the issue of somebody owning a recording that they want to have exploited. So we thought “Why don’t we try to do something special with them?” And whilst we were thinking this we were at a festival in Europe and Foo Fighters was playing, and we knew that Dave was a fan, and we made the arrangements of going over to talk to him. And when we met him, after a few handshakes and a few laughs, we were like “Okay, so you liked the band? So do you want to do something?” And he said yeah, and one month later we were in L.A. doing that. So that way we sort of found a way to treat those songs a little bit better, and it turned into something more special, that session. And it also worked in the way that we recorded all the cover stuff first and got our rocks off, so to speak, before going to the other studio, the other week after that to begin recording the album.
Pitchfork: The ABBA cover makes sense to me-- you guys are Swedish-- but how did you guys decide to do “Here Comes the Sun” ?
NG: Because we are big fans of the Beatles [ laughs ]. Most metal bands pay tribute and it’s in accordance with their heritage that they need to play songs of bands that they try to sound like. And it would be so boring if we started doing Alice Cooper, and Black Sabbath and Pentagram and Candlemass and all those songs that would be deemed as “Godfathers of Doom Rock.” We leave that to the others, because as much as we love bands like that, and have their records, we wanted to bring forth something else. We want to find songs that we can adopt into our own. And Beatles, I’ve been a fan of Beatles even longer than I’ve been listening to hard rock, so it made a lot of sense. We sort of found the angle of taking that so and inverting it. And that’s something that’s sort of the Ghost recipe for doing covers, it has to be a song that has some sort of tongue-in-cheek inversion quality to it. And that song just screamed “cover.”
Pitchfork: The theme of Satanism, tongue-in-cheek or not, has a long tradition in heavy metal. How important is it to what you guys are doing?
NG: Well thematically, obviously, it’s alpha to omega, that’s what we’re doing. The sort of Satanism, or devil-worship, that we want to portray in the confines of Ghost, a very biblical version of goat worship, the sort of things that you see in a Satanic Panic movie. And obviously in the theater that is Ghost, everything is supposed to feel like it’s orthodox devil-worshipping. As an audience member, you can choose to believe whatever you want to. And you can choose to partake, or you can choose not to.
That’s also one of the things that makes us different from most metal bands that have some sort of Satanic agenda. That most of them have a very high demand on their listener, where most of the time they’re preaching for priests and they demand of their fans to be as devoted as they are. And there’s always some sort of “kill yourself” message in there. Whereas we are, in many ways, like a mirror reflection, where we’re trying to reflect on, basically “religiosity." We’re basically doing the Catholic Church, we just have drawn a little on the painting. And we’re doing so because it’s such a powerful way of making you guys, and ourselves, aware of the solemn, and the seriousness to it, because it’s the priest and the clergy, and the Church, is something that most people in the Western world associate with authority. Even atheists sort of throw out their gum before going into a church, just because there is something within the confines of a church, there is something in the walls, most people can feel that power. Some people call it “God,” but there are many words for it.
And that is one of the aspects that we’re trying to touch and we’re playing with the idea of divinity, and we’re using the diabolical symbolisms to set a mindset, and this is where it becomes non-intellectual. Because Ghost derives from a pop-cultural world where rock n’ roll, vinyl, and horror movies is a religion. And that’s why it’s so hard to speak of all the ingredients for a grown-up person’s point of view. Because Ghost comes from the sort of devotion only a 13 year-old can have to goat, God, man. And it’s a sort of devotion that only youngsters can have of horror and rock. Does that make sense?
Pitchfork: Yeah. Leading up to the release of this new record, the real Pope stepped down. When that happened, I thought, “Ghost couldn’t have asked for better timing.”
NG: [ Laughs ] I know, had we only gotten the press release before everybody else, then we would have made a real big thing about it. No, it’s very ironic, especially since most people didn’t know what “Emeritus” meant until recently. So people didn’t really realize what our pope's name was. You know they didn’t understand the joke, because there is no such thing, you cannot be a “Pope Emeritus.” And now there is one.
But it’s interesting times, and that is basically what this band is about. So what he’s doing, and the reasons why, sort of goes hand in hand with our entire idea of the band and what we’re talking about on the record. What we’re also trying to create, what we’re trying to do, is create an alternative, especially where what we’re doing is escapism.
Most bands nowadays, especially the modern metalcore, emo, screamo, yada, they always insist about singing about “real stuff.” Divorce, alcoholism, “You’re like me, I’m like you." That whole Hot Topic crap. Nothing against Hot Topic, but the bands in there, the temporary music scene is a lot about being real, about being out there, and being street, being this and that. And as much as we’re trying to create something that’s an alternative to that, escapism, we try to reflect on things that are real. What the new record is, it’s about man and his relationship to the divine, the darker divine, and how people treat each other, basically. So a lot of these themes that we’re singing about, however fantasy-oriented they might seem, and unrealistic, and things you can see for show, there’s still some sort of substance to it. And that’s why I’m saying that you can take it very literal or you can choose to indulge.
Pitchfork: You say that the first record is kind of building up to the Antichrist in a way and then the new record is the Antichrist or Satan in the every day. Is that the idea?
NG: Yes. That’s basically what I’m talking about. Everything on the first record was about a coming darkness, an impending doom. Whereas the new record is about something present, and literally, the new record deals with the presence of the Anti-Christ, the Devil. But subliminally, the meaning of it is more how mankind-- predominantly men-- what they have deemed to be the presence of the Devil, throughout history and even nowadays. And that’s why the record is so fueled with sexual themes and females. That’s basically it, the Inquisition was basically men accusing women of being the Devil just because they had a hard-on for them. That was basically that.
Pitchfork: Via the Decibel piece I was led to that Tumblr page, Ghoulish Perversions , featuring sexualized Ghost drawings and images. Pretty interesting fan art.
NG: Yeah, absolutely, it’s amazing. At first we were a little bit appalled by the fact that we had this sort of female attraction when we played, because regardless of how broad the mass that we wanted to reach out to, somehow we still though that we were going to be a dudes' band. And we ended up having not a predominant, but a steady stream of females coming to our shows and being very keen on being in the front row and sort of suggestive, to Papa mostly. And we were like “What the fuck? Why?” He’s an old codger, and we sort of looked past the whole idea of obviously somewhere underneath all that stuff there’s someone else, he can be whatever you want him to be. We never really thought about that. Now we know that, obviously, especially after seeing that page of smut [ laughs ], but we’re glad. That’s what we’re doing, we want to influence people. It’s pretentious, but isn’t that what defines art? A piece of something that inspires other people to carry on living or carry on doing something, that intrigues them to act in some way. So people doing drawings like that about what they want to do with the band, I think that is a great compliment. And it gives us the approval knowing that we’re doing something right. And it’s fun.
After speaking with a Nameless Ghoul, I sent Papa Emeritus II some questions via email. Answers dictated to personal assistant by Papa Emeritus II:
Pitchfork: When I spoke to one of the Nameless Ghouls, he talked about Ghost as an "entertainment" band. Do you agree?
Papa Emeritus II: Yes.
Pitchfork: You signed to a major label, upped the production, etc. Is reaching non-metal fans an active goal?
Papa: As much as we like to physically walk and talk backwards, we wish to go forward career-wise.
Pitchfork: I'm curious about how you initially came up with, and then developed, the band's concept and sound.
Papa: I did not.
Pitchfork: On the new album, the songs/lyrics are credited to "A Ghoul Writer." Are you this "Ghoul Writer"? If so, what inspired the words?
Papa: I am not the Ghoul Writer.
Pitchfork: Satan is obviously the major theme here. When I talk to Satanic bands, I'm always curious: How do you honor Satan in your daily life?
Papa: My mere existence is a dishonor for the Church, thus being in favor of "the old one."
Pitchfork: How do the covers of ABBA and the Beatles tie into this Satanism? Is Dave Grohl devoted to the Satanic cause?
Papa: Anybody devoted to rock music is, per Christian definition, a promoter of devil worship.
Pitchfork: How does the new album connect to the last one? Can you discuss the title and the other Latin phrases?
Papa: The first album was about an impending doom, whereas the new album is about the presence of the Devil. The title, Infestissumam , means "the biggest threat" and refers literally to the arrival of the Antichrist, but what it is also is about is what man has traditionally regarded as diabolical presence-- namely female form and swagger.
Pitchfork: It's interesting how many women are referenced in the lyrics. Can you discuss?
Papa: Yes, but we aim not only to disgust, but also to arouse and enlighten.
Pitchfork: When you started Ghost, did you envision becoming a sex symbol?
Papa: I didn't start Ghost, but I have always had my way with women. This because of my nice figure and my sharp tongue.
Pitchfork: You guys had a big moment when the Pope stepped down. Good timing with the new record. What were you thoughts when this happened?
Papa: Gawddammit, why did I sign up with this rock gig for a year and a half?
Ghost B.C. is playing Coachella and Lollapalooza as well as embarking on a full North American tour .
__ Since last time, we’ve posted tracks from Power Trip , Bone Sickness , Cough , Incendiary , Coliseum , Agrimonia , Conan , the Ocean , the Body , Sadgiqacea , Dread Sovereign , and Royal Thunder .__
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Ghost (also known as Ghost B.C. in the U.S.) is a Swedish heavy metal band, formed in Linköping in 2008. In 2010 they released a 3-track demo, followed by a 7" vinyl titled "Elizabeth", and eventually their debut full-length album Opus Eponymous . The Grammis-nominated album was widely-praised and increased their popularity significantly.
Ghost are easily recognizable due to their eccentric on-stage presence, five of the group's six members wear hooded robes, while the vocalist appears in a skull mask and a cardinal outfit, and highly secretive nature of their identities, with the members being referred to as "Nameless Ghouls". Musically, the band is often compared to groups such as Black Sabbath , Blue Öyster Cult , Mercyful Fate , and Witchfinder General .
- 1.1 Identities
- 2 Discography
- 3 External links
Members [ ]
- Tobias Forge (as Papa Emeritus IV, successor of Cardinal Copia, Papa Emeritus III, Papa Emeritus II and Papa Emeritus) – vocals and kazoo
- Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists; bassist, drummer, keyboardist and two guitarists (rhythm and lead)
It appears as if there is a new successor to Papa Emeritus by each new album. some believe this to be the same Papa but with a new Outfit, and the Sucession is just a play on the Vatican's Pope.
Identities [ ]
The Swedish Performing Rights Society is rumored to have Tobias Forge, vocalist of Swedish bands Subvision and Repugnant and former guitarist for Crashdïet (using the alias Mary Goore in the latter two), credited with songs as "A Ghoul Writer". All songwriting on Opus Eponymous is credited to "A Ghoul Writer", causing people to believe Forge is Papa Emeritus. Ghost has stated they will not comment on any rumors of their identities.
Discography [ ]
- Opus Eponymous (October 18, 2010)
- Infestissumam (April 9, 2013)
- Meliora (August 21, 2015)
- Prequelle (June 1, 2018)
- "Elizabeth" (June 20, 2010, 7" single)
- "Secular Haze" (December 15, 2012, free digital single & 10" vinyl)
- "Year Zero" (April 19, 2013, digital & 10" vinyl)
- "Cirice" (May 30, 2015)
- "From the Pinnacle to the Pit" (July 17, 2015)
- "Majesty" (August 7, 2015)
- "Square Hammer" (September 16, 2016)
- "Rats" (April 13, 2018)
- "Dance Macabre" (May 18, 2018)
- "Faith" (December 20, 2018)
- "Kiss the Go-Goat"/"Mary on a Cross" (September 13, 2019; released on Seven Inches of Satanic Panic)
- "Hunter's Moon" (September 30, 2021)
- Demo 2010 (2010, demo)
External links [ ]
- Official Website
- Secular Haze
- 2 Pelle "Dead" Ohlin
- 3 Erik "Grim" Brødreskift
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Product Key Features
- Artist Ghost, Ghost B.C., Ghost BC
- Format Record
- Release Year 2013
- Release Title IF You Have Ghost
- Item Length 12.35in
- Item Height 0.16in
- Item Width 12.03in
- Item Weight 0.49lb.
Additional Product Features
- Number of Discs 1
- Notes Vinyl LP pressing. 2013 EP from the Swedish Metal band produced by Rock icon and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. If You Have Ghost features four covers songs along with a live recording of 'Secular Haze' from Ghost's performance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Tracks 1.1 If You Have Ghosts 1.2 I'm a Marionette 1.3 Crucified 1.4 Waiting for the Night 1.5 Secular Haze (Live)
- Number of Tracks 5
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Ghost released the If You Have Ghost EP in 2013. Produced by Dave Grohl, it features 4 cover tracks and a live version of "Secular Haze" recorded at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York City.
- Product Dimensions : 12.36 x 12.36 x 0.31 inches; 8.32 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Loma Vista
- Item model number : SPINE759775
- Original Release Date : 2013
- Date First Available : October 18, 2013
- Label : Loma Vista
- ASIN : B00FWCFODY
- Number of discs : 1
- #955 in Metal
- #4,751 in Rock (CDs & Vinyl)
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65th annual grammy awards.
Best Metal Performance
Call me little sunshine, view all nominations for this artist.
Through the 65th GRAMMY Awards
"We realized that we needed to leave stuff up to the imagination. We want to leave things to the listeners and fantasy. We want people to think, feel something, let go." — A Nameless Ghoul
- Members: Papa Emeritus III, Nameless Ghouls
- Formed in 2008 in Linköping, Sweden
- Ghost's sophomore studio album, 2013's Infestissumam , reached No. 28 on the Billboard 200 while topping Sweden's album chart.
- The group won their first career GRAMMY for 2015 for Best Metal Performance for "Cirice," a track from their third studio album, Meliora .
- Did you know? GRAMMY winner Dave Grohl produced Ghost's 2013 EP, If You Have Ghost , which featured covers of songs by Depeche Mode, ABBA and Roky Erickson.
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Every Ghost album ranked from worst to best
From the riffy rituals of Opus Eponymous to the devilish dance anthems of Impera, here are Ghost's albums ranked in order of greatness
Formed by Tobias Forge in 2008 in Linköping, Sweden, Ghost have charted a meteoric trajectory from the tiny clubs of their homeland to the arenas and festival stages of the world, counting the likes of James Hetfield , Dave Grohl and Duff McKagan among their devoted followers.
Visually-captivating, the Swedes appear as a spooky, blasphemous horde, with a ghoulish anti-Pope as a frontman, leading a pack of anonymous musicians shrouded by dark robes, masks and other nightmare-inducing garb.
Of course, their success would be nothing without the music, an absurdly-catchy blast of 70s hard rock, 80s metal and ample doses of pop, prog and even show tunes. With new album Impera now out, here are the band's five full-length records to date, ranked from worst to best.
5. Infestissumam (2013)
A cruel, but understandable consequence of a breakout debut — like 2010’s Opus Eponymous , for example — is the corrosive deluge of expectations that await the sophomore effort. Ghost found themselves in this very situation with the release of Infestissumam . At times campy (the ABBA cover, I’m A Marionette ) and other times fiendishly heavy ( Per Aspera Ad Inferi ), their second album leveraged the band’s burgeoning notoriety in an effective, if calculating way.
The front half of Infestissumam absolutely smokes, from the soaring choral harmonies of the title track straight through to the blood-pumping sacrilege of Year Zero . The latter half however, fails to keep pace.
The final six tracks are not without their own seditious charms but they collectively lack the kind of ginormous hooks or arena-sized choruses that incite the raising of lighters, the dusting of speed limits or the feverish pounding of chests. A fine album, by any estimation, but one that captures Ghost reconciling their first real dose of fame with mixed results.
4. Meliora (2015)
Produced by the Midas-fingered pop maestro Klas Åhlund (Madonna, Usher, Katy Perry), Ghost’s magnificent third album revealed aspirations that extended far beyond their metal fanbase, straight into the bloody, beating heart of the mainstream.
Witness mega-addictive, instantly-hummable tracks like Cirice and From The Pinnacle To The Pit . Whereas Blue Oyster Cult and Mercyful Fate had offered the most well-lit reference points on the first two albums, Meliora celebrates the brutal potency of the Almighty Riff, courtesy of bangers like Mummy Dust and the unabashedly AC/DC -esque Absolution .
Far more than a rehash of the first two albums, Meliora discloses its vast depth in the velvety Laurel Canyon harmonies of He Is , in its baroque organ passages ( Spirit ), and in the anti-religious bombast of classical choirs ( Deus In Absentia ). Masterfully balancing its sharp siege of power riffs with softer moments of genuine melodic splendour, Meliora never feels scattered. Meant to be enjoyed at neighbour-bothering levels.
3. Opus Eponymous (2010)
The album that started it all. By the late-Noughties, a handful of retro outfits had struck commercial gold by reverting to the oldest trick in the retro rock songbook - sound exactly like Led Zeppelin (see Wolfmother , Graveyard, etc.). It was something of a revelation then, when Ghost smashed their way into the thick of the fray with elegant, melodic compositions, radiating with warm production and showcasing Forge’s feathery vocal harmonies. Where was all the noisy, overdriven Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden worship?
They were there, of course, but stitched deep within more obvious references such as Blue Öyster Cult , Mercyful Fate and Pentagram, as well as with less-conspicuous influences like Uriah Heep , Demon and the Devil’s Blood. As the funereal organ passages of opener Deus Culpa give way to the unholy wail of guitars and keyboards in Con Clavi Con Dio , you know you’re in for a literal Hell of a ride.
Tracks like Ritual and Stand By Him combine surging, hard rock riffing with spacious choruses big enough to knock satellites out of orbit. There’s not a bad track on the album.
Opus offered a convincing demonstration that Ghost could not merely conjure a unique sound but they could effectively employ it in a broad range of styles, from the heaviness of tracks like Satan Prayer or Elizabeth to the smooth instrumental purr of Deus Culpa and Genesis .
Unsurprisingly, with its overt Satanism and galloping riffs, the album’s earliest adopters hailed from the metal community, which is no small feat, considering that Opus is not a pure metal album by any stretch.
In fact, one of Opus ’ highest achievements is that it inspired diehard metalheads to expand their sonic horizons; to look beyond genres, beyond blastbeats and beyond metal’s beer-stained, leather-and-studded tropes and to appreciate catchy, mainstream rock at its finest.
In 2019, in the midst of Prequelle ’s album cycle, Forge stated that its successor had already been conceived and that it would be a darker and heavier effort altogether. Yet, at first blush, Impera feels like Prequelle ’s younger sibling – a bit livelier and more colourful and in some ways more extreme, yet very much a sonic pairing.
Bursting with juicy glam metal hooks, Impera uncorks one banger after another. From the siege of power chords and the piercing opening wail of Kaisarion to the towering gothic grandeur of Hunter’s Moon , Impera bottles all of the energy and theatricality of an 80s stadium show. Informed by Andrew Lloyd Weber as much as Def Leppard , Forge once again partnered with Klas Åhlund to synthesise his grandiose vision into an ambitious and cunningly-catchy affair.
You want pure pop? Spillways , with its breezy chorus and blinding fretwork will do you nicely. If it’s balladry ye seek, Darkness At The Heart Of My Love unfolds with a memorable, lighter-waving, arms-around-your-mate chorus that you’ll still be humming days after you’ve last heard the song.
Doggedly fresh and genuinely affecting, Impera is an instant classic that presents a compelling case for the number one slot and through the passage of time, it might well emerge as their strongest yet. But until then, Ghost’s greatest album to date remains...
Ghost’s fourth album remains their greatest show of force – a relentlessly-ambitious outing that synthesised Ghost’s trademark sound with Forge’s grand, theatrical vision, exemplified by the lush choral pageantry of Pro Memoria and closer Life Eternal .
Further underscoring the Broadway vibes were the instrumentals – the dreamy Helvetesfonster and Miasma , a proggy space rock voyage, building to an exhilarating crescendo that manages to include both an unambiguous Michael Jackson reference and a goddamned saxophone solo. We’d be forced to draw Spinal Tap comparisons if the band didn’t pull these off so utterly convincingly.
Prequelle also reaffirmed Forge’s enduring love affair with the polished album rock of the early-80s in the guise of full-tilt bangers like Rats and Witch Image . Swedish to the core, he also boasts a preternatural gift for writing sugary pop classics, none catchier than the dancefloor-packing Dance Macabre . Prequelle is both an extension of all that fuelled Ghost’s rapid ascent and a bold step forward.
The whole thing could have backfired, alienating potential new fans with its unvarnished Luciferian imagery, while repelling existing fans with its heavy pop and showtune undercurrents. Instead, it dazzled them all.
Debuting at number three on the Billboard charts, Prequelle united critics and fans in frothy acclaim, attracted legions of new followers and it has easily stood the test of time, destined to enjoy, dare we say, “Life Eternal.”
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Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer , penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.
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Ghost Scores First No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales Chart With Biggest Sales Week of 2022
Plus: The latest albums from for KING & COUNTRY, Rex Orange County, Benny the Butcher and Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked debut in top 10.
By Keith Caulfield
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Ghost ’s Impera blasts in at No. 1 on Billboard ’s Top Album Sales chart (dated March 26) with 2022’s biggest sales week for an album – 62,500 copies sold in the U.S. in the week ending March 17, according to Luminate, formerly MRC Data. It’s the first chart-topper for the rock band on Top Album Sales, and the act’s fourth top 10 overall.
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BENNY THE BUTCHER
For king & country.
Elsewhere in the top 10 of Top Album Sales, for KING & COUNTRY ’s What Are We Waiting For? debuts at No. 2, Rex Orange County ’s Who Cares? starts at No. 3, Benny the Butcher’s Tana Talk 4 enters at No. 8, and Joell Ortiz and KXNG Crooked’s Rise & Fall of Slaughterhouse bows at No. 10.
Blink-182 Notches Second Straight Alternative Airplay No. 1 With 'One More Time'
Billboard ’s Top Album Sales chart ranks the top-selling albums of the week based only on traditional album sales. The chart’s history dates back to May 25, 1991, the first week Billboard began tabulating charts with electronically monitored piece count information from SoundScan, now MRC Data. Pure album sales were the sole measurement utilized by the Billboard 200 albums chart through the list dated Dec. 6, 2014, after which that chart switched to a methodology that blends album sales with track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent album units. The new March 26-dated chart will be posted in full on Billboard ‘s website on March 22. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.
Impera has the biggest week, by album sales, for any album in the 2022 tracking year so far, surpassing the 37,000 copies sold of The Weeknd ’s Dawn FM after its CD was released (week ending Feb. 3). Further, Impera has the largest sales week for a rock or hard rock album since the debut of Foo Fighters ’ Medicine at Midnight (64,000; week ending Feb. 11, 2021). (Rock and hard rock albums are defined as those that have hit Billboard ’s Top Rock Albums and Top Hard Rock Albums chart, respectively.)
Notably, Impera logs Ghost’s best sales week ever, surpassing the 61,500 start of its last full-length studio album, 2018’s Prequelle . The latter’s first-week number was boosted by a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer. Ticket/album bundles, like merchandise/album bundles, ceased to count towards chart sales as of Oct. 9, 2020 .
Of Impera ’s 62,500 copies sold in the week end March 17, physical sales comprise 51,000 (28,000 on vinyl; 21,000 on CD and 2,000 on cassette) and digital sales comprise nearly 12,000. The album’s sales were enhanced by its availability on a variety of vinyl LP and CD editions. Impera was released in numerous color vinyl variants, including color versions available exclusively via Target, Walmart, Newbury Comics, Zia Records, independent record stores in general, as well as the band’s official webstore.
In total, Impera ’s 28,000 copies sold on vinyl LP marks the largest sales week for a rock album on vinyl in over a year, since Paul McCartney ’s McCartney III sold 32,000 in its debut frame (Jan. 2, 2021-dated chart). Further, Impera logs the biggest sales week for a hard rock album on vinyl since 1994, when Pearl Jam ’s Vitalogy sold 33,500 copies in its opening week (chart dated Dec. 10, 1994). Vitalogy was exclusively available on vinyl in its first two weeks of release, before it became available on CD.
Impera also debuts at No. 1 on Top Rock Albums , Top Hard Rock Albums , Independent Albums , Vinyl Albums , Tastemaker Albums and Top Current Album Sales .
Top Rock Albums and Top Hard Rock Albums rank the week’s most popular rock and hard rock releases, respectively, by equivalent album units. Independent Albums reflects the week’s most popular albums released by independent record labels. Tastemaker Albums ranks the best-selling albums at independent and small chain record stores. Vinyl Albums lists the top-selling vinyl albums of the week across all sellers. Top Current Album Sales ranks the week’s biggest-selling current albums (not including catalog – older – releases).
Brother duo for KING & COUNTRY bows at No. 2 on Top Album Sales with What Are We Waiting For? , selling 28,000 copies. It’s the third top 10 on the tally for the act. The new album’s sales were bolstered by its availability in a CD signed edition on the act’s official webstore. (In total for the week, CD sales comprise nearly 22,000 – both signed and unsigned across all sellers, while digital album sales comprise 6,000. The set is due out on vinyl LP on May 20.)
Rex Orange County’s Who Cares? debuts at No. 3 on Top Album Sales with 20,000 sold, marking the second top 10 for the artist. Of the set’s starting sum, vinyl LP sales accounted for nearly half of its sales – 9,600 copies. The album also got an assist from a pair of boxed sets sold through the artist’s webstore.
Dolly Parton ’s Run, Rose, Run falls 2-4 in its second week on Top Album Sales with 8,000 sold (down 49%) and the No. 1 Encanto soundtrack dips 4-5 with 7,000 (down 14%). Nirvana ’s Nevermind vaults 11-6 (nearly 7,000) as it basks in the buzz generated by its album cut “Something in the Way” being used in the film The Batman . Olivia Rodrigo ’s former No. 1 Sour rises 8-7 with 6,500 sold (down 4%).
Benny the Butcher’s Tana Talk 4 starts at No. 8 with 6,000 sold; Adele ’s chart-topping 30 is a non-mover at No. 9 with 5,500 (down 17%) and Joell Ortiz and KXNG Crooked’s Rise & Fall of Slaughterhouse debuts at No. 10 with a little over 5,000.
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Music Review: Holly Humberstone gets candid on atmospheric debut album, ‘Paint My Bedroom Black’
This cover image released by Geffen/Universal/Polydor shows “Paint My Bedroom Black” by Holly Humberstone. (Geffen/Universal/Polydor via AP)
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A third of the way through her debut album, “Paint My Bedroom Black,” Gen Z pop singer Holly Humberstone initiates a sort of slow dance, but one set in an anxious daydream.
“When you found me I was a train wreck / You gathered my bones in a blanket,” she sings on “Kissing in Swimming Pools,” as if whispering in someone’s ear. “So, can we kiss in your swimming pool? In this bathing suit, I would die for you.”
The song’s steady rhythm and candid lyrics are soothing but also worried — a tone that captures the rest of Humberstone’s debut, due out Friday. Across 13 tracks, Humberstone allows herself to wallow in the confusion of maintaining new and old relationships. And she isn’t afraid to own the suffocating nature of that uncertainty. But she’s also building a new world, ushering in a reset. As she sings on album’s title track, “Here’s to new horizons.”
Humberstone, 23, first established a fanbase in 2020 with the release of her EP “Falling Asleep at the Wheel.” In 2022, she was awarded the BRIT’s Rising Star award, adding to a lineage that includes Adele , Sam Smith and Florence + The Machine.
She supported Girl in Red and Olivia Rodrigo on tour that year, joining Rodrigo on the second leg of her “Sour” tour after an opening stint by Gracie Abrams. Beyond sharing the stage, these artists also belong to the same class of young talent as Humberstone, songwriters whose frank lyrics about young love and growing up have shaped a new era of soft pop.
She’s also among those artists whose music largely found its audience during pandemic lockdowns — when the yearning and uncertainty of youth was perhaps at its most relatable.
The end of “Ghost Me” has a pleading quality reminiscent of some of the aching tracks on Abrams’ debut album, “Good Riddance.” It relies on an upbeat repetition to create an urgency that feels poignant. It also expertly captures the trials of modern communication, as Humberstone references doomscrolling through a camera roll alongside cycling through her own memories.
As the track fades to ambient sounds, a voice memo from a friend of Humberstone’s begins: “There’s this SpongeBob line which I always think of, and it’s this guy who’s really sad, and he goes: ‘I was born with paper skin and bones made out of glass, every day I wake up and I shatter my ankles,’ or something like that. Like he’s really sad, I’ll find it now. But that’s how I feel at the moment.”
Set against Humberstone’s lyrics, there’s a poetic, heartbreaking quality to that statement. In actuality, that (often referenced on social media) quote is from a 2002 “SpongeBob” episode called “Chocolate with Nuts,” and that guy (fish?) is a con artist attempting to swindle SpongeBob and his starfish best friend, Patrick.
There may be something to be said, then, about the gullibility required of contemporary relationships, especially very-online ones. But the recording’s inclusion is fitting, a knowing nod to Humbestone’s youth. As she sings earlier in the track, “And where the hell did our childhood go? It freaks me out, how fast we grow.”
The 13 tracks on “Paint My Bedroom Black” live within the same atmosphere, one that is woven out of layered and pulsing productions of synthetic sounds, rich drum beats and Humberstone’s strong vocals. But they are also different enough to paint a complex portrait of a young woman going through something, one who will paint her bedroom black not to hide from the outside world — but to drown out distraction. And open herself up to it.
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Ghost No Longer Obligated to Use ‘B.C.’ in Name
Back in early 2013, Ghost changed their name to Ghost B.C. in the States due to legal reasons. The details of the name change were never truly explained, but for some time, the dreaded B.C. appeared along Ghost's neo-classic band logo. However, we were told by one of Ghost's Nameless Ghouls in an exclusive interview that the band is no longer obligated to use B.C. in its name.
Since there have been various bands called Ghost in the past, many fans assumed a lawsuit had taken place, but this is not the case. According to the Nameless Ghoul, the parent company that owns Ghost's record label, Loma Vista, took the precaution to block a potential lawsuit.
"The thing was there was never a lawsuit," the Ghoul explains. "It was basically, I have to just explain myself after I hang one institution out to dry here and that was not our real label, but the bigger umbrella version of our label. Unfortunately in the legal world in general, and it's not an anti-American thing, but especially in America where people are so conscious about not being sued, obviously all corporations are extremely conscious about not getting sued. So the big major label, specifically, had a policy that said that every artist they sign must own their own name. Obviously we don't have exclusive rights to our band name because it's a word so commonly used. There are so many brands that have the word "ghost" that I think it's almost un-ownable, in a way, unless it's more specific. So it was basically a demand from the label that we added something."
The Nameless Ghoul goes on about what B.C. actually stood for, and how though, B.C. is still in the fine print, Ghost no longer have to print the letters prominently on their releases.
"What we found least irritating was that if it was something short for something else," the Ghoul continues. "We added the B.C. 'Because of Copyright' or, obviously, 'Before Christ.' We wanted people to still focus on Ghost. Unfortunately that leaked over into the promotional side too just because they tagged everything 'Ghost B.C.' everyone started calling it that. While we told every promoter and every journalist that we spoke to, 'Don't write Ghost B.C. because that's not our name.' It's like saying, 'I'm going to go down to McDonalds LLC or McDonalds, Inc. and buy a burger.' So this time around, when we had a little bit of a flip within the company, we took the opportunity to raise the question and make it happen so that we don't have to write it out on the record. There's something extremely unromantic that's called metadata and within the metadata in all the regions that we need to, it's still B.C. It's there in the fine print, but for you and I and everybody else, we don't have to say that. So it's Ghost now, which I'm extremely happy about."
Ghost's third studio album Meliora will see an Aug 21 release date. To pre-order the album and bundle packs, click here .
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