Preview: Ghost B.C. to haunt an old church


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The last time the Swedish metal band came through here, opening for Opeth and Mastodon, it was called simply Ghost, but that has turned out to be an all-too-common name for a band.

On its return trip, to the former church of Mr. Smalls Saturday, a legal challenge has forced Ghost into the use of an addendum: thus the billing of Ghost B.C.

Ghost B.C.

With: Ides of Gemini.

Where: Mr. Smalls, Millvale.

When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets: Sold out.

"It's of course annoying and we never use it ourselves," says Nameless Ghoul in a phone interview. "We're going to make an effort to erase that as soon as possible. We are Ghost. Nothing else. That was just a way for us to have the record released. There's a reason why bands the last five, 10 years have a sentence for a name. As much as I am for copyright laws, sometimes it's really just a joke."

The Nameless Ghoul on the phone is one of the five robed and cowled musicians who backs frightful frontman Papa Emeritus II. The band debuted in 2010 with "Opus Eponymous," showcasing guitar rock a la Blue Oyster Cult wrapped in a Satanic horror package with churchy organ swells and choral chants.

The band has tried to hold up its upside cross at those who would hoist a label upon it.

"Aesthetically, I don't think we spend a lot of time contemplating whether we're metal or not," says this Ghoul, who is a guitarist. "Obviously, we are a hard rocking band in several aspects. In the minority of the metal community that are completely sold on doom metal, they argue a lot about whether or not we are a doom metal band. There are clearly distinct rules that you have to obey in order to be a full-fledged doom metal band. So we choose not to call ourselves anything ... but Ghost."

The success of the first album and the band's breathtaking live show won Ghost a deal with a Universal subsidiary and the opportunity to record with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who has handled such mainstream bands as the Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains and Evanescence.

It went down, believe it or not, in Nashville where a Swedish gothic-looking metal band would seem almost comically out of place.

"Apart from it being the commercial and religious music capitol of the world -- so we need to go there since we were doing our big sellout album -- besides that, the producer we had chosen lived there. So in order to be time effective, we decided to go wherever he is. We are pleased with the result and Nashville is a cool city. A little odd."

The result is "Infestissumam" ("the biggest threat"), which is an opulent black mass that could be filed alongside your old Deep Purple albums.

"A lot of things we did on the first record felt bold at the time and felt very unrestrained," notes the Ghoul. "Being applauded for a few of those things on the first record that according to the rule book of metal would be viewed as a lot of no-no's enticed us to go even deeper, and both downwards and upwards, and just overall make a more colorful record."

They went by the design that each song should have its own "body."

"A lot of metal bands have a tendency to come up with a sound and they just mimic that 10 times on a record. Maybe there's one slow song that's basically the same thing slowed down. Which is fine, but we tried to deliberately have every song should have its own signature."

Having previously covered the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun," quite beautifully, this time Ghost adds a poppy-yet-chilling B-side of Abba's "I'm a Marionette," produced by Dave Grohl.

"We have had the idea of doing the Abba cover for years and years," the Ghoul says, "and we actually did it with another band once because it's such a cool song. It's a completely forgotten song and lyrically it fits Papa very well."

Ghost opened the tour for "Infestissumam" at Coachella in April, generating a buzz as being one of the festival's offbeat highlights. During that event a lot of the bands complained about the scorching 90-degree desert heat. The ghouls in Ghost rocking it in black robes.

"It sort of goes against nature putting on more clothes when it's warm," he says, "but it actually protects you a little from the heat as well. We did some European shows at the end of the summer that were way worse. While the heat wasn't pleasant, the shortcomings were more production, I think. While what we do translates OK to daytime performances, we definitely do excel in the nocturnal environment."

In terms of the band's identity, it's been pretty well kept under the cloaks, but it becomes less of a secret over time, especially as they tour with other bands. Papa is widely rumored to be Tobias Forge of Repugnant and Subdivision.

This Nameless Ghoul says that when family or friends ask them what band he plays in, "More and more we tend to just say it, because it causes way more trouble not saying it. Like locally, at home, that is. We live in a quite small city, under 40,000 people, and people know, and if you start lying to them in the face, it just gets worse. So it's our little secret together with everyone at home -- for house peace."

music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. Twitter: scottmervis_pg.


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