WORDS: Eddie Sims
Christmas seems like the worst possible time to spend an evening worshipping the good ole’ dark lord S’tan, but you try telling that the massive queue of GHOST fans patiently awaiting the doors to open at Bristol’s 02 Academy. With this probably being the last gig these punters go to this year, the stakes are high for a good end to the year.
Lucky then that GHOST are one of the most consistently excellent live acts around and they’ve brought with them a very nice opener in the form of DEAD SOUL.
Despite their sound not being based in the world of metal as much as tonight’s headliners, DEAD SOUL are still the ideal opener for GHOST, with both bands being fiercely creative in their musical realm. With a low-fi soaked blend of blues guitars and electronic beats, DEAD SOUL frequently tread on an almost industrial metal sound, but the emotional elements that come across are what make their set so enthralling. With both their strange and unique sound as well as their excellent song craft, DEAD SOUL remain captivating for their 40 minute set, but would fair far better should they have been given more space on the stage as well as more time to engage with the crowd a bit more. Despite being a low key band, this tour will have made them many new fans and given them the perfect springboard into the New Year.
However good DEAD SOUL were, they frankly have a long ways to go before they’re even in GHOST’s league. The satanic Swedes had a shaky 2013 with their second album not being as well received as their debut, but with this year’s release of the superb Meliora, GHOST are back on track and are now packing a varied and brilliant back catalogue, which has been cherry picked for tonight’s 15 song setlist, which spans all three albums as well as their covers EP released last year. The immediate stage presence of the Nameless Ghouls is apparent and it doubles the moment their weird and wonderful cult lead Papa Emeritus III walks on stage in full pope get up. Smashing through the two openers of Meliora, Spirit and From the Pinnacle to the Pit, it’s crystal clear just how tight the band are, despite being able to see next t nothing underneath their classy masks. The theatricality is done with such ease and Papa Emeritus III is the best incanation of the front man to date, with his engagement with the crowd being both captivating and hilarious as times. After a triumphant If You Have Ghosts followed by the show closer Monstrance Clock, it’s transparent that GHOST are not only one of the best bands of 2015, but they’ll probably only go from strength to strength in 2016, so get ready to become quite accustomed to seeing these classy nameless ghouls and their brilliant ring leader everywhere.