To the sound of the monstrance clock
Air is cleansed, assembled flock
Black candles burn all night tonight
As the parish sighs in smoke
Enters lady revealed of cloak
To the haunting sound of the monstrance clock
Come together, together as a one
Come together for Lucifer’s son
The music of “Monstrance Clock” sounds so sweet, but really, it isn’t. It isn’t my favorite track on Ghost’s latest album Infestissumam – that would have to be “Year Zero” — but it’s my second favorite, and so I’m quite happy to report that Ghost have released a new video for it. Directed by Rob Semmer, it sets the magnetic music to scenes of the band’s performances at the El Rey in Los Angeles and Webster Hall in New York City. Watch it next…
Two and a half years ago I wrote a post about “Banjo Metal” that continues to be visited and still leads to the occasional e-mail contact from people interested in the subject (Google “banjo metal” and see what comes up first). That post focused on metal bands who have used the banjo in some of their songs (plus an obligatory item on the magnificent Béla Fleck). Today brought us news of a different type of banjo metal — a banjo cover of a metal song.
Okay, some of you might quarrel with applying the term “metal” to Sweden’s Ghost. Hell, I’ve quarreled with myself about that. But hey, they do sing about Satan!
The cover is of Ghost’s best-known song, “Ritual”, and it’s performed on video by Erling Bronsberg, a skilled banjo player who e-mailed me about the cover last night. He’s based in Örebro, Sweden, and performs with a group called the Black River String Band. He uses “standard sawmill tuning” for this song, which probably means something to banjo players but to me simply sounds cool. His cover is cool, too. He puts a bluegrass spin on the melody without completely losing the song’s familiarity, and the picking is tasty. Check it out:
My NCS comrades and I were busy little beavers over the weekend (scabby, rabid ones, of course), making headway on new reviews. But I also heard a lot of new individual songs that grabbed me, so I’ll be dropping those morsels into round-up posts today in between a slew of album reviews — starting with this one.
When Ghost B.C. released their new album, Infestissumam, in Japan, they included a bonus track. It’s a cover of “Waiting For the Night” by Depeche Mode, from their 1990 album Violator. Late last week Ghost released the song to YouTube for those of us who like the band but can’t get our paws on the Japanese version of the album. The original song doesn’t mention Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Satanas, or Lucifer, but it does include some other Ghost-ly lyrics: “I’m waiting for the night to fall / I know that it will save us all / When everything’s dark…”
Even though there’s not any typically overt Satan worship in the words, Ghost do put their own spooky stamp (and some beefy low-end riffs) on the music. Cool song (and an exception to our Rule, of course). Check it next.
When I intend to listen to an album with the thought of reviewing it, I usually avoid reading other reviews. I want to form my own impressions based solely on the music and pick my own words to describe it; this may explain why my reviews leave so much to be desired. However, I read several reviews of Ghost’s new album Infestissumam before hearing it, because I wasn’t thinking about reviewing it for this site. After all, the music is barely metal, if it’s metal at all. Also, it has actual singing in it.
The reviews I read weren’t in mainstream publications or on mainstream sites, though Infestissimum has been reviewed in plenty of those places. I was reading reviews on metal blogs. I couldn’t help but notice that even most of the positive reviews had a defensive or apologetic tone, a kind of “they’re good for what they do, as long as you’re not expecting X, Y, or Z”. And the negative reviews panned the album for not having enough X, Y, or Z — whatever the reviewer was demanding but couldn’t find in the music, such as heaviness or gripping riffs.
Some of the negative reviews came from people who seemed to really like Ghost’s first album, Opus Eponymous. This later puzzled me after I listened to Infestissimum, because it’s not like the band made some kind of radical course change without putting on the turn signal. I don’t think it’s different enough from the first album to turn praise into a pan.
I began to have a sneaking suspicion that Ghost had become the victim of a combination of two things that don’t go over very well here in the underground: success and gimmickry.
On this lazy Saturday morning, I found these items of interest while surfing the waves of our metallic ocean.
I’m still having trouble typing “Ghost B.C.” instead of “Ghost”. And as if legal problems with their original name weren’t enough bullshit to endure, this Swedish band seem to have encountered fresh new bullshit in getting the CDs produced for their new album, Infestissumam.
According to Spin.com, release of the album has been delayed from April 9 to April 16 because four different U.S. compact disc manufacturers have refused to print a piece of artwork (shown above) that was destined for the deluxe version of the album. More from Spin.com:
“We kept on getting turned down because of the CD art, which is basically a 16th century illustration of an orgy,” a source close to the band told SPIN. The NSFW illustration, inspired by the work of Gustave Dore, showcases what looks like a forest nymph orgy, but it’s the religious iconography at the top that convinced manufacturers to turn off the printing press.
The Nameless Ghouls in Sweden’s Ghost B.C. have jealously guarded their true identities, which makes it so surprising that without much fanfare they’ve now revealed them for all the world to see.
Earlier this month the band released a track named “Year Zero” from their forthcoming second album Infestissumam (Latin for “hostile”), which is due for release on April 9. Today they premiered an official video for the same song. Apart from cryptic images of children, the main action consists of a group of women of different ages assembling for a visit by their lord and master and a light repast of raw steak, grapes, and goblets of wine.
All of this proves to be simply spiritual and material nourishment in preparation for donning the costumery of Ghost B.C. and finishing off the track in the garb to which we Ghost fans have become accustomed.
So there you have it. Secrets revealed. And that’s not all that’s revealed: we get to see the band members buck nekkid when they change clothes. Which means this video is NSFW.
The purpose of this post is to provide info about two tours announced today. The first is Haze Over North America, headlined by the mysterious Swedes in Ghost, with support from a west coast trio known as Ides of Gemini. The month-long run will commence on April 18 in Denver and continue through May 18 in Pittsburgh.
I know all I need to know about Ghost. Though not an immediate fan, I grew to become one on the strength of two live shows I saw in Seattle. Yessir, I will definitely line up to see these guys again. I’m less sure about Ides of Gemini. They released a well-reviewed album of “ethereal doom” last year named Constantinople. I’m going to stream a Scion A/V-sponsored video after the jump and come back and watch it a bit later.
The second tour is certainly more clearly in my own personal wheelhouse. It’s a spring U.S. tour by Virginia’s Inter Arma (whose new album was the subject of an NCS feature just this past weekend) and NY-based Mutilation Rites — and I dig them, too..
I’m very happy to report that both tours will stop in Seattle. I know you were extremely curious about that since it’s an issue that directly affects my own happiness. Both schedules are after the jump . . . along with that video from the Constantinople album.
From me to you, new things discovered today . . .
I became an acolyte of Ghost after witnessing their live ritual twice in the last year. The music was already growing on me before those shows, but they sealed the deal.
Now we have a new Ghost song and a new live video performance of the song to go with it. Ghost began rolling out the song on-line, one recording track after another, and now the entire song is available for listening — and it’s also a free download.
“Secular Haze” has the rhythm of a waltz and fancifully begins and ends with the sound of a calliope. Like so many of the band’s songs, it’s poppy and catchy, and yet moments of ominous tension find their way into the melody. The song didn’t grab me as fast as some of the tracks on Opus Eponymous, but by the third listen I was hooked.
To hear the song and get it for free, go to this location and enter your e-mail address. You’ll then receive a download link by e-mail. To watch the new video, continue on past the jump.
I’ve been doing actual paying work all morning. I took a break not long ago and cast my baleful eye around the interhole and my NCS e-mail box to see what there was to see and hear. And these are things I thought worth passing on.
First, that cover you see above is for a tribute album to Emperor called In Honour of Icon E, which will be released on June 25 by Metal Swamp. It’s a very nice piece of art, created by Wolkogniv of Folkingrimm Art.
It also looks like it will be a very nice album, with Emperor covers by the likes of Demonical, Helheim, Horna, Taake, and Setherial. I’ll give you the full tracklist rundown after the jump, but the news for today is that the album has gone up on Amqzon for pre-order, which means you can hear snippets of each song here.
On Monday night, April 30, 2012, a group of friends and I eagerly made our way into Showbox SoDo in Seattle to watch and hear Opeth, Mastodon, and Ghost. By the end of the night, we all agreed that it had been an excellent show from start to finish. The acoustics and sound quality in this venue were superb, and each band was firing on all cylinders.
I brought my Samsung TL500 camera with me, which in my clumsy, untrained hands is still more of a mystery than a comfortable tool. Nevertheless, I took pictures of each band — though not for long, because I wanted to immerse myself in the sights and sounds rather than fuck around with the camera. But the damned thing is nearly idiot-proof, and I got some decent pics, considering who took them. The best ones decorate this post. You can imagine how bad the others look. But first, a few notes about the performances.
I saw this Swedish band a few months ago in a smaller venue, and this performance was virtually a carbon copy of the previous one — except this time I didn’t get to hear them play their cover of “Here Comes the Sun”. After that earlier show, half-drunk and fully delirious, I posted a status on our FB page that to this day has received more “likes” than any of our notices about NCS content: “Any band who can make ‘Here Comes the Sun’ sound evil deserves a blowjob.”
That’s really Ghost’s trick in a nutshell: They write and perform these really catchy, quasi-psychedelic pop-rock songs that would have been right at home when Flower Power was king (except with a heavier low end), yet make them sound infernal. Their costumes and stage presence and the lighting really underscore that satanic aura in a live setting. The visual display is just a kick in the ass to watch. But make no mistake — whoever these dudes are, they are talented musicians, and the Pope has a killer set of pipes.
I don’t know how many people in this packed audience knew what Ghost was about before this show, but I heard lots of grinning metalheads talking about them throughout the night.