Papa Emeritus, it’s confession time.
I confess that, until a couple of months ago, I had never heard GHOST. Seriously. I do not lie.
Hold on, before you go all crazy on me (a la “Rats”). I have no-one to blame but myself. I wallowed in ignorance and self-deceit. I denied myself the pleasures of these Sonic Swedes. But a friend, a brother (who happens to run this site) saw in me the seeds of conversion. And so he pounded me straight with a “Square Hammer.” And then I took the floor for a “Danse Macabre.” And so forth and so on.
Now, I have all the gospels of Tobias (Forge). I have an understanding of the characters of the various Papas and Cardinal Copia. I’ve read the lyrics, seen the videos, checked out interviews with Mr. Ghost himself. I have my own testimonial to tell about this band.
Which brings me to his/their newest release, the single/video “Hunter’s Moon.” It comes two years after the previous EP, “Seven Inches of Satanic Panic,” which featured the twin attacks of “Mary on a Cross” and “Kiss the Go-Goat.” Both were and are melodic, catchy as Hell, and the usual showcase for Mssr. Forge’s intelligent and incendiary lyrics. You can take them at face value (which typically follows the Satan-sin-evil line that is part of GHOST’S persona). But they can also have deeper meanings, for those who want to dig six feet under the surface. Frankly, Forge doesn’t care.
“Hunter’s Moon” is for the new movie “Halloween Kills,” the latest in the original slasher series. Oh, Papa, another confession: I’ve never seen any of the “Halloween” movies. I sorta know about them and Michael Myers and hockey masks and Jamie Lee Curtis. The devil made me do it. Or not. Whatever.
But the video is replete with images of the little guy in the mask, growing up in a small family of women in a Victorian house—dark, dingey, foreboding (of course). A dark figure stalks the land, totally in silhouette, features without distinction or light. As the video progresses, the cuts come faster and faster, raising the blood pressure and discomfort level. The last :30, the face of the stalking figure is revealed to be…Papa Emeritus. Whichever number. It’s him.
It’s a powerful and unsettling tale, told in 3:43, by director Amanda Demme. Like all GHOST videos, it will linger in your psyche. Even if you don’t see the movie (and my wife has no intention of seeing it, so you know what that means for me…).
The Forge-an lyrics are what you’d expect. Obvious yet deep, considered and cavaliere. Tobias himself was aiming for something “Nostalgic. Longing…back. Sort of semi-romantic.” And that’s in a song for a horror movie. But so many of his pieces have that need, that urgency, that desire to examine the past, a craving for one last reunion before…well, before who knows what.
Though my memories have faded
They come back to haunt me once again
And though my mind is somewhat jaded now
It’s time for me to strike again
I’m coming back for you, my friend
Tonight, it’s a Hunter’s Moon
Is he coming back to claim another victim? Is he coming back to be with a cherished one—a brother, a mother, a lover? Only he and the subject know for sure. And that uncertainty, at least for us, allows for interpretation that keeps things even more interesting. That, too, is a Forge-an strength.
The music? This is GHOST! It’s not your typical metal. It has elements of prog, of hard rock, of pop, of punk, of so many different things that Forge has up his musical sleeve. In my considered opinion—as a new entrant to the temple of the GHOST—Tobias has been developing the band’s sound since it was formed 15 years ago. With Meliora and especially Prequelle, things came together. The EP and “Hunter’s Moon” display a crystallized sound that is uniquely and definitively GHOST. Catchy. Compelling. Creepy. Rhythmically curvaceous. Short stories of under 4:30, for the most part.
As to the musicians. Ummmmm. Well, we know that Forge sings. We know that OPETH’S Frederik Akkeson plays guitar. And piano stylings are added by Martin Hederos of THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES. But beyond that, they ain’t saying. Tobias could be doing other instruments as well – he generally lays out the exact notes and beats for everybody in the band. Some NAMELESS GHOULS – part of the live band or just studio hired guns – could be involved. It’s a mystery, one of faith, that Tobias Forge gets the worship elements in place and starts the service. And he does it well, children.
So, Papa, back to the confession. I’ve messed up by not getting to GHOST before now. Penance? I’d listen to/watch “Hunter’s Moon” a hundred times…but I’ve already done that. You’d better order me to do another hundred. Which I would do anyway. Never mind. I’ll come back to talk with you when the new GHOST album drops in a few months…I’ll need ore penance and absolution around then.
- Tobias Forge / Vocals, ?
- Nameless Ghouls / Guitars, ?
- Nameless Ghoul / Keyboards, ?
- Nameless Ghoul / Drums, ?
- Nameless Ghoul / Bass, ?
- Frederik Akkeson / Guitar
- Martin Hederos / Piano
- Amanda Demme / Video Director
Ghost continues to come up with haunting, riveting and energizing music for the ears, the heart, the gut and the mind. “Hunter’s Moon” is 3:16 crammed full of varying styles, shifting rhythms, catchy hooks and lyrics that are open to wide interpretation. Tobias Forge continues to be on a roll