Ghost Haunts Sold Out Ritual In Los Angeles

October 26, 2015
Mayan Theatre- Los Angeles, CA

        Swedish rock and metal band Ghost released their third album Meliora (Latin for the pursuit of something better) on August 21, 2015. Even though they’re still a fairly new band, they’ve gained an even bigger fan-base following the release of Meliora. The release of Meliora also followed the tradition of relieving frontman Papa Emeritus II of his vocal duties and was replaced with his younger brother Papa Emeritus III (same person, different/younger look). The other members of the band who are only known as The Nameless Ghouls also followed tradition and changed their previous black masks with silver masks with horns as well as give themselves new identities with the five alchemical symbols marked on their instruments. Since a lot of their fans were immediately drawn to their outfits, it was no surprise to see fans at the venue dressed up as Emeritus himself, Nameless Ghouls, and even women dressed as satanic nuns known as Sisters of Sin. Despite their satanic imagery, a Nameless Ghoul has stated in an interview that their image is all in good fun with tongue-in-cheek humor and has nothing to do with religious beliefs. As they eagerly awaited the year and a half return of Ghost, fans could be seen socializing with each other and making new friends talking about experiences with the band and smiles were seen just about everywhere especially since it was the first time seeing Ghost for many people in attendance. The sweet smell of incense filled the air to give the venue a gentle yet gloomy feel and look. Eventually, an elderly woman only known as “The Summoner” (who has appeared in Ghost‘s music videos) came out and gave a five minute speech about having summoned everyone tonight and to yell out Emeritus’ name to summon him. She left the stage as the crowd cheered and prepared for the very moment they’ve been waiting for that sold out months in advance. The return of Ghost!

The stage was covered in a red light as the two minute intro of Masked Ball by Jocelyn Pook (also heard on the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut) started and the venue was filled with a roar of excited fans as the Nameless Ghouls made their way to the stage starting with Earth ghoul (drums), Air ghoul (keyboards), Omega/Ether ghoul (rhythm guitar), Alpha/Fire ghoul (lead guitar), and Water ghoul (bass). Once they were in place, Ghost started the show with the first track from Meliora, Spirit. As the song was getting underway, the satanic pope Papa Emeritus III himself appeared center stage as fans greeted him with cheers as Emeritus raised his hands in a praise manner. Even though Emeritus’ appearance may make you think of traditional metal growls, one will find surprise at his use of clean vocals that will hypnotize you and pull you in with his evil yet soothing voice. All three guitar ghouls were very mobile on stage and displayed body movements showing that they were having so much fun performing for their fans. One example is Omega would tap his heel in a tap-dancing manner to the beat of Spirit which was a simple yet cool gesture to see. The second song played was the second track from Meliora, From the Pinnacle to the Pit. This a song that has a strong Led Zeppelin feel and fans of that band will appreciate the similarity. For the third song, Ghost went back to the debut Opus Eponymous album and played Ritual. Luckily the venue did not reek of dead human sacrifices as the song goes. Another song from the first album was Con Clavi Con Dio (With Nails, With God) and it saw Emeritus come out on stage with a thurible and he would swing it left to right while smoke would come out of it as if you’ve entered a place of worship. Per Aspera ad Inferi (Latin for Through Hardships to Hell) is a song from their previous Infestissumam (Latin for Hostile) album and received positive response from the crowd as they sang along to the title track, “Per Aspera…ad Inferiii!”.

Emeritus took a quick break to address the crowd and start cracking sexual jokes to the audience as a means of having fun while apologizing to any kids in the audience. The show continued with Majesty followed by Body and Blood in which Emeritus introduced two girls picked the day of the show to dress up as nuns and hand out wafers to members of the audience. The Nameless Ghouls played the instrumental Devil Church while Emeritus had a wardrobe change removing his robe and hat revealing a nice haircut and suit. The first single from the new album Cirice (Sa-reese) was next and was one of the song’s you could hear the crowd singing along to. Year Zero followed and was another song where Emeritus would let the crowd sing the chorus for him. He would sing, “Hell Satan” (Archaic Swedish for 2ghostscHail Satan) and the crowd would follow with “Archangelooooo!” Emeritus would sing the second line “Hell Satan” and the crowd would again follow with “welcome Year Zeeerrooooo!” It’s also during this time that Emeritus gets more sexual during the rest of the show as during Omega’s guitar solo, Emeritus would grab his butt. The song ended with another instrumental Spöksonat (Ghost Sonata). He Is was next and is possibly Ghost’s most beautiful song. Most of the crowd could be seen putting up their hands in the air as a gesture of worship. It is an amazing song to sing along to. Absolution is one of the new songs and is fun to hear live. Emeritus would sing, “put your hands up and reach for the sky” then the crowd would reach up to the sky and Emeritus would continue with, “cry for Absolution!”. Mummy Dust was next on the list and is more of a disco/techno song. Very fun to listen to and what made the song even better performed live was seeing Air ghoul bring out his keytar during the solo and jam out while the crowd cheered for him.

Back in August for the release of their new album, Ghost set out on a mini Ghost Unplugged acoustic tour in select cities around the USA. Many fans were unable to attend one of the stops so Ghost made up for it by playing an acoustic version of Jigolo Har Megiddo featuring all three guitarist ghouls on acoustic guitar. The time had come for Ghost to call it a night. The familiar keyboard notes hit as fans knew they chose Ghuleh/Zombie Queen to finish the night. The beginning of the song is a slow-paced keyboard and drumming song, almost something you could slow dance to. The song would come to a quick halt as the song picked up from a slow-paced song to guitar distortion and funky drums as if you were suddenly at a beach party. The crowd absolutely loved singing along to the chorus as they filled the venue with their voices by singing, “Zombie Queen….Zooombiiie Queeeen! Black light guides you, Ghuleeeh! Ghuleeeh!” It was almost a mini party hearing that song being played live. Ghost finished the song and left the stage, but the crowd wasn’t ready just yet to leave. They stayed still and chanted, “Ghost! Ghost! Ghost!”. After a brief break, Papa and the Ghouls came back out for a couple of encores. The first encore was their cover of Roky Erickson cover of If You Have Ghosts. You can tell this is a fan favorite because the fans loved singing the chorus, “If you have ghosts…then you have everything. As the show prepared to come to an end for real this time, Emeritus continued his sexual jokes by saying this next song “is about orgasms….and fucking!”. To give fans the idea what song he was talking about, he started singing the line, “To the sound of the Monstrance Clock” and fans fans cheered as they knew the song was Monstrance Clock. This was the last chance for Ghost fans to let out any remaining energy they had and give it their all to sing along. The best part had to be at the end when Emeritus let the fans finish the outro of the song as they sang, “Come together….together as one. Come together….for Lucifer’s son”. The audio track continued in the background for that line as Papa and the Nameless Ghouls all came together to bow to their fans and fans themselves went crazy as they for sure just witnessed what a lot of them consider to be their best show of the year or even the best show they’ve ever been to. Ghost walked off stage while fans looked at each other in amazement yet exhausted from all the energy they put into showing their love for the band. They got Ghost and now they had everything.

Review by: Misael Ruiz