The Swedish rock band, Ghost, has become a genre phenomenon over the past seven years. They’ve grown from a mere cult following to become one of the most awarded and praised modern rock acts, even earning their fourth Grammy nomination this year. It’s clear that the hype is big for Ghost, now more than ever, but I’ve personally never bought into it, and instead had written them off as just another cliche "mask-wearing gimmick" band. However, seeing them perform and giving them a thorough listen, I can honestly say I’ve started to sip the "Ghost kool-aid."
If one thing is clear, Ghost really try their best to be more than just another rock band, and this was especially prevalent during their live show. Aside from the fact the band has hidden their identities (literally no one knows who any of the instrumentalist are, and the vocalist was only recently identified from a lawsuit involving former band members), the band describes their concert experience as “the evenings spectacle,” characterizing it more as than just music performance. From the medieval stage art, to the cult-like connection to their fans, a Ghost concert is by no means your average rock show, in fact; it’s set up more like a play, with a 15-minute intermission between “Act 1” and “Act 2.” As far as live performances go, Ghost gives their own unique and staple form of entertainment, and I haven’t even reached the musical elements of the show yet.
As I walked through the doors of Boston’s Wang Theater, I vaguely knew what Ghost sounded like, but I wanted to remain distant until I was formally introduced. By the end of the show, it was so obvious to me why this band is so hot right now. Everything from their sound production to their songwriting screams old school heavy metal and classic rock. Bands like Metallica, Queen, and Black Sabbath, are so evident in the band's vault of influences, but not to their detriment. Underneath their influences, Ghost also has an indie-rock/metal layer to their sound, whether it’s in their vocal delivery or in the melodies themselves, which adds more modern spin in their songs. In regards to their instruments, the band has such a satisfyingly clean sound, no instrument screams for your attention, but rather firmly guides it instead. While this might be an interesting way to describe them sonically, it made practically every song so enjoyable and easy to listen to, especially if you’re a newcomer to their music.
Playing a 26 song set to an audience of over 3,000 fans is something that any band dreams of, but I find it most captivating that a band like Ghost can pull this off. From dropping their debut eight years ago, to being an opening act on stadium tours, Ghost has established themselves at an astronomically fast rate. There are a plethora of rock/metal bands from the early 2000’s who can’t play even close to the shows Ghost can, and to me, that really says something. So, are they worthy of all hype this hype? Without a doubt, the answer is yes, and even if you’re a casual rock listener, they have something to offer. Ghost proves rock music is far from dead, and more alive than it’s been in years.