Here's How Ghost B.C. Is Taking Satanic Metal Mainstream

Ghost B.C. live (credit Enric Martinez)
Enric Martinez
Ghost B.C.'s eerie live show.
In today's age of omnipresent coverage and instant information, it's pretty difficult for bands to maintain any sort of anonymity. The art-rock collective The Residents has stayed unknown for more than 40 years, and Slipknot pulled it off for a while. But one eccentric Swedish act has kept their names and personalities shrouded quite well--an impressive feat, considering the band's most recent album was recorded with one of rock's most recognizable faces, Dave Grohl.

Ghost B.C. has achieved a lot in the United States since forming in 2008. Five of the band's members, called "Nameless Ghouls," don hooded monk-like robes and black masks, the look falling somewhere between Darth Vader and a medieval executioner. Representing the five elements of fire, water, wind, earth, and ether, they back up a strikingly skull-faced vocalist dressed like a Roman Catholic Cardinal, dubbed Papa Emeritus II.

Read our complete interview with a Ghost B.C. Nameless Ghoul: "We're not critiquing God, we're critiquing man."

Somehow, the band has brought the concept of black/Satanic metal mainstream, fusing pop and death metal in a way that's alarmingly comfortable. They headlined their first U.S. tour in 2012, and have since played in just about every city with a metal following. And the message, even though it incorporates much about the occult, religion and Lucifer, is meant to be more tongue-in-cheek.

"Obviously there is a thought process behind it," explains the Nameless Ghoul. "But I think what most people fail to recognize is that we're not critiquing against God. We're critiquing against man."

The rhythms are fused with Latin church choirs, keyboards, and euphoric hooks, alongside Papa Emeritus II's somber yet bluesy vocals. Their songs are multifaceted and catchy as hell, pulling from influences like melodic metal, classical, and horror movie soundtracks, as well as the adolescent rage that drove '80s underground death and thrash metal. One Nameless Ghoul has even admitted that they love the Beach Boys: "Pet Sounds has this fantastic melody, mixed between sunshine and complete dystopic hell."

"A huge part of the band comes from religious horror movies. We are an entertainment act," says a Nameless Ghoul guitarist. "We want people to go into the experience like they are going to get lost in a horror movie for an hour or two."

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