Satan, I think it is fair to say, has something of a bad rap. He can steal your soul through a bum contract, condemn you to an eternity of hellfire for a set of shakily defined indiscretions, and, worst of all, is mostly played by aging character-actors on TV. So worshipping our Southern Lord, understandably, is a little looked down upon.
But that might all change soon. On its major-label debut, Infestissumam, Sweden’s Ghost B.C. (just Ghost outside of the U.S.) makes Satanism sound like a downright good time.
Ostensibly documenting the rise of the Anti-Christ, Infestissumam is chock full of lyrics like “Into the endless depth of Satan’s eyes” and “Satan devours all,” as well as a whole bunch in Latin that are probably best left un-translated.
The group, composed of several Nameless Ghouls and fronted by Papa Emeritus II who wear monk robes and a demented Pope costume, respectively, pairs all of this Satanic panic chicanery to catchy classic-metal riffs and clean vocals.
It’s music that sounds nothing like it looks, approaching cheesy shtick but remaining way too fun to ever cross the line. “Year Zero” begins on voices chanting, “Beelzebub! Lucifer!” before segueing into a disco beat and huge chorus, splitting the difference between Abba and Aleister Crowley. Meanwhile, “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen” is a straight-up piano ballad, a love letter to the undead royalty of its title with a sweet hair metal guitar solo.
Emeritus II’s vocals emote over lines like, “from the darkness rise a succubus,” and he menacingly whispers the title of organ-fed first single, “Secular Haze.”
Ostensibly the most un-metal thing about Ghost B.C., they nonetheless make the band exactly what it is, which is to say, a black mass with none of that messy sacrifice-of-the-unbaptized stuff.
This perfectly encapsulates what makes the band so damn fun. Its sacrilege is purely for the vicarious, horror-movie Satan worship only scary to those who think KISS stands for Knights In Satan’s Service. This is probably why the band has gotten so many famous fans, most notably Metallica and Dave Grohl of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, and reportedly received over $500,000 in the record contract that produced Infestissumam.
But let’s get real here for a second: If Ghost B.C. is on Satan’s side, and Christian rock is represented by such has-beens as Creed and Relient K, who’s really winning here? Best bone up on your occultism, because with songs this catchy at his disposal, the Dark One’s got a lot going for him.