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Sunday, November 13, 2016


The Grammy for Best Metal Performance went to Ghost, a Swedish band, for the song "Cirice," off the album Meliora. Defining metal, whether heavy or otherwise, can be a daunting and futile exercise. Most would say it started with Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin, but few would call Zeppelin a metal band today. There are hundreds of types of metal--from thrash to stoner to symphonic to folk--so many types that it appears to have lost all meaning.

Ghost has more of the trappings of metal, specifically goth metal, than the sound. It's kind of like a person putting up a Beware of Dog sign when they have a cute little schnauzer. It can bite, but it's not that vicious. As you can see from the cover and the names of the songs ("Cirice" means church, and there also songs called "Absolution," "Devil's Church," "He Is," "Deus in Absentia" and "Majesty") that confuse the sacred and profane. Ghost is vaguely Satanic, but not outwardly so. They do wear horned masks on stage. The lead singer is called Papa Emeritus III and the band is A Group of Nameless Ghouls. But the songs recall not so much the sounds of Hell as top-40 radio in the 1970s.

The more I listened to it the catchier it sounded. It has much more pop than the old nasties like Judas Priest and Slayer, and I could even understand the words. "Cirice" is a terrific song, as is "Mummy Dust." The opening track, "Spirit," really sounds like something from classic rock radio, as it opens with what I believe is a moog. "Devil's Church" is a short instrumental with an organ, reminiscent of Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend." The last track, "Deus in Absentia," ends with a choir.

I have no idea if Ghost is putting us all on or is serious about their act, but it doesn't really matter, as the album is tuneful and fun. I doubt Pat Robertson would like it, but that's just another positive.

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