October 13, 2015
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Justin Press
Photos by Lewis Leveridge
The Unholy Minstrel Show Conjures Black Magic
Ghost (or Ghost BC as you wish) is a conundrum. They're appearance and marketing savvy would suggest a much more morose outfit but behind the stage paint and elaborate masks, the band is a bolted-down melodic machine more reminiscent of Cheap Trick than Behemoth. But let's not let mature melodies and massive riffs get in the way of a good nightmare. Tuesday night at the Dallas House of Blues, the Swedish occult act delivered a show that was worthy of all the accolades as a demonic séance with a much better groove kept a near capacity crowd entranced.
Opening amidst a flurry of orchestral bits of gloom, the band launched into "Spirit," the opening track from their latest release Meliora, a sweeping 50-minute epic full of lush performances, just enough heavy sections to keep it weighty and a full lyrical text that pays homage to the darker things in this world. The lead filled riffs of "From The Pinnacle to The Pit" come swooping in like a vampire bat spreading its infectious curse.
Ghost made its way into the metal conscience with it's debut Opus Eponymous and the double-headed hydra of "Ritual" and "Con Clavi Con Dio" heralded the celebration of the band's unique approach to the echoes of Blue Oyster Cult. You could envision Buck Dharma nodding in agreement.
Their sophomore gem Infestissumam gets equal time with the odd-time signature devilish promise of "Per Aspera Ad Inferi" as "all your dreams will come true" has the black-laden crowd singing along. The riffs of "Majesty" would make Ronnie James Dio envious as the slumbering beast plods along as vocalist Papa III sings high praise of the Horned One and his impressive kingdom. Following on is cloven hoofs is maybe the hardest entry into the bands repertoire, "Prime Mover," another tome to the dark sinister forces beyond the grasp of God.
At this point it must be stated that the Nameless Ghouls that back Papa III are a surgically-tight unit who can turn on a dime and not break a sweat between the vacuous choruses and the shifting rhythms all while cloaked in ages old religious masks and sullen capes. A sizable chunk Meliora takes up the second half of the set with "He Is," "Absolution" and an absolutely scorching "Mummy Dust" showcasing what is considered the band's best album to date. However, even the Devil dances with who brought him and the band reach back a few years for "Ghuleh/ Zombie Queen" and the fittingly sacrificial cover of Roky Erickson's "If You Have Ghosts."
This track above all showcases Ghost's prowess as high-caliber musicians and Papa's vocals are throaty and confident. The slow burn of "Monstrance Clock" sends the worshipers of the clergy to the exit doors with specters trailing them all the way home. Ghost delivered a sermon of darkness that was one-part tongue in cheek Satanism, one-part vaudeville and two-parts excellence questioning whether like legendary blues man Robert Johnson, did Ghost too sell their soul to the Devil?
English psychedelic rockers Purson added a grand sense of the macabre to the opening of the evening with a set focused on their 2013 release Circle And The Blue Door plus sample tracks from their upcoming release Desire's Magic Theater including the first single "Electric Landlady," a grooving rock riff is greeted by a Wurlitzer organ that swirls around like incense at a coven.
The band excels at its craftsmanship of witchery and whimsical rock that tips its hat to late 60's /70's bands like Pentangle and even early Santana. Led by vocalist Rosalie Cunningham who could be a dead ringer for Ann Wilson circa the Little Queen era. The lullaby of "Rocking Horse" is both slinky and sinister as Purson veers near carnival soundscapes more in-line with Verne Langdon than any rock outfit. Purveyors of jam bands, occultists and gypsy folklore take heed; you may have just found your new favorite band.