When Ghost announced that they would be supporting Iron Maiden on their Book of Souls North American Tour, the thought of controlling oneself at the idea of these two hitting the stage together was impossible. Then, they announced a series of summer headlining dates and it seemed the stars aligned for the United States even more. On Saturday night, Ghost commanded the Fillmore Auditorium stage along with Khemmis; Making for one devilishly good ticket that proved to be a match made in heaven–or hell. Within the darkness, the rumble of Ghost’s music called out to us as yet another ritual for the history books unfolded. Check out our photos of the Popestar Tour’s mesmerizing stop in the Mile High City.
With Ghost picking the support of their individual dates, it came as no surprise that Denver hometown heroes and doom metallers Khemmis were their “chosen ones.” With songs like “Above the Water” that loom over you like a thick, black fog, Khemmis’ music filled the grand Fillmore Auditorium, giving you the chills while at the same time oddly warming your soul. The addition of their LP Hunted, which they released last year, further added to their set with songs like the aforementioned as well as “Hunted,” that are cataclysmic and brooding. Presence-wise, they performed each song with an infectious amount of energy as they gave their beloved city their all. Khemmis are underrated for the amount of musical talent they have, but as their show with Ghost on Saturday foretells, they won’t be for much longer.
Last year, I said that Ghost are bound to make their mark in metal history, especially with the addition of their EP release, Popestar. Their fanbase have always been loyal and strong, but with the simple release of their newest hit, “Square Hammer,” they seem to have skyrocketed to a whole new level. In further support of the EP, Ghost are currently taking the United States by storm on the second leg of their Popestar Tour, which took communion in Denver Saturday. All in the Fillmore Auditorium that night rose their hands up to the glory of Ghost, coming together as one to celebrate a band that has risen to become one of the greatest metal bands of our time.
With an introduction nearing twenty minutes, the anticipation grew as thick as the fog that now hovered ominously over the venue. But anyone who’s been to a Ghost ritual, knows the wait is well worth it. Suddenly, the Nameless Ghouls jolt out onto the stage, imposing on our hazy slumber. First Earth and Wind, then Ether, Fire, and Water, who’s shadows appeared to us like friendly figures in the dark. That feverish, catchy intro of “Square Hammer” rings in and Papa Emeritus III finally arrives, taking his rightful place amongst the Ghouls. He’s backlit by fanning rays of pure, white light that make him look holy but also maniacal. Beginning, as always, with a grand entrance, Ghost awakened something rarely felt within us that night.
During “Square Hammer,” Papa begged three questions to the audience, “Are you on the square? Are you on the level? Are you ready to swear right here, right now before the devil?” As the night went on, Denver were on the square, on the level, and more than ready to swear before the devil as they came out massively to revel in the moment with Ghost. Their appreciation didn’t go unrecognized as Papa pointed out towards the crowd as if to beckon them and say, “I see you, child.” As his hands lifted up to the sky, our spirits lifted up with them. Those brief moments of Papa signing flawlessly amongst the platform always provide for an unbelievable experience, but it wouldn’t be long before he moved down from the pinnacle to the pit.
Fittingly, one of Meliora‘s many celebrated releases, “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” growled out next, taking us a long way down with its earthy, crushing sound. Towards the end of the song, Papa moved back up the stairs and took his place above the stage. He placed his hands across his eyes and everything immediately went dark as if he willed it to do so. This unassuming blackout set the mood briefly for “Con Clavi Con Dio” off Ghost’s highly-acclaimed, Opus Eponymous, which opened with a sea of red light flooding the stage. The unique musical hierarchy of the song allowed each member their own time in the sun, along with moments from the Nameless Ghouls that even Papa himself couldn’t help but take time in the set to commend. Lavish and devilish, Ghost continued to cast a spell over the crowd, who were lost completely in the rhythmic hum of the music and their spectacular stage presence.
The downtime in between songs was filled by Papa’s witty and devilishly charming humor, particularly before songs like “Body and Blood” and “Monstrance Clock.” But there were also brief intermissions that were provided by instrumentals “Devil Church” and “Spöksonat,” which further added to the atmosphere of the entire show. These outings built up to two pinnacles of Ghost’s career, “Cirice” and “He Is.” Ghost don’t just put on a concert, they put on a ritual that’s carefully crafted and just enough to make you gasp and awe without it coming off as too overboard or cheesy. It is that attention to detail that makes Ghost’s performances less of a show and more of a spectacle to behold.
Ghost’s setlist also lends itself well to showcase their entire discography with a major outing from Infestissumam with songs like “Per Aspera ad Inferi,” “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen,“ the aforementioned “Body and Blood,” and “Year Zero” embedded throughout the set. “Year Zero,” in particular, created a frenzy within the crowd as Papa yelled out, “Sing it!”. The crowd heeded his call and cries of “Hail Satan! Welcome year zero” rose triumphantly and loudly throughout the venue. A sea of fans raised their hands up the air, punching them up towards the sky as they adamantly sang along with Papa. All around, the interaction that Ghost had with each other along with their fans was impeccable to witness. Good things, much like everything, unfortunately have to come to an end as “Monstrance Clock,” ticked the final moments on the clock and ended yet another Ghost ritual for the history books.
Ghost are a newer age of metal, descending upon the Earth like an foreboding deity that warrants the right to be praised and respected. Their records provide for a haunting, exhilarating experience, but their live shows are bound to change the way you feel about concerts forever. In hindsight, after seeing Ghost two nights in a row, I can honestly say that no one compares. And that’s something, like last year, I’d swear unwaveringly right here, right now, before the devil.
Ghost are currently on the road providing support on Iron Maiden’s Book of Souls North American Tour, but they will also be playing a few select headline dates in between. Make sure you check out the remaining dates, and let us know what you thought of this years ritual(s) in the comments!
Get the latest coverage, news & releases from your favorite artists, directly to your inbox