Ghost – PHANTOMIME (EP Review)
Ghost – PHANTOMIME
Released: May 19, 2023
Papa Emeritus IV
A Group of Nameless Ghouls
It’s with a tinge of sadness that I review this one since it likely indicates the Impera era is coming to an end. Each full-length Ghost LP (like the 10/10 Impera) has been followed by a secondary release of covers and/or non-album tracks. PHANTOMIME is a collection of five new cover tracks that add to the Ghost legacy and showcases the band’s love of traditional metal and subversive pop hits.
The good news is that Tobias Forge has indicated they will be adding tunes from the EP to their upcoming tour, which includes the Australian leg in October (read more in our interview with Tobias here). After that, it will likely be onto the next thing for Ghost and all signs point to the next phase being as glorious as the current one.
Kicking off with Television’s ‘See No Evil’, PHANTOMIME embraces darkness and adds their own gothic undertones to the lyrical depiction of desire. It fits with Impera’s theme of empire and the corrupting influence of power. It’s pretty groovy and heavy on the synth with gnarly little riffs. It leads into the tremendous lead single, ‘Jesus He Knows Me’, from Genesis’ 90s album We Can’t Dance.
It’s given a metal upgrade and is a biting satire of televangelists. Its anti-religious authority message suits Ghost to a tee. The riff absolutely rips and it’ll be a great addition to the upcoming tour setlists.
Whilst Papa remains a charismatic presence, it’s actually the Nameless Ghouls who are the highlight here. The organist gets a great workout on ‘Hanging Around’ (The Stranglers) and the backing vocals ensure the chorus gets stuck in your head. The highly anticipated cover of Iron Maiden’s classic ‘Phantom of the Opera’ is also an opportunity for the guitar-playing Ghouls to absolutely shred as they mimic the original’s twisting, turning riffs and completely nail the solos. It’s arguably a bit too faithful to the original, and might have benefitted from a reworked approach like the band did for ‘Enter Sandman’ in 2021. I do wish I knew who to credit on guitars though because they really do a killer job on each track.
Which brings me to the climax – an incredible cover of Tina Turner’s anthem ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)’. It’s bass-heavy on the verses building to the pre-chorus and that magnificent chorus. Without Turner’s powerful vocals, it’s in a different key which pulls it into the Ghost sound. Is there a message here? Are they suggesting there’s no more heroes to come? Could this be the first time a Papa Emeritus survives an LP/EP/tour cycle? Have I fallen too deep into the Ghost fandom?
As you can tell I’m an unashamed fan of Ghost and have been on board with everything they’ve done. This EP is in line with past efforts (though isn’t quite the weird sonic detour into 60s psychedelic rock like 7-inches of Satanic Panic EP). Without any new songs it’s not essential but still a great time. The covers sound great, they’re ready made for club and stage and will tide fans over until the next phase of Ghost begins.
Ghost – PHANTOMIME tracklisting
- See No Evil (Television)
- Jesus He Knows Me (Genesis)
- Hanging Around (The Stranglers)
- Phantom of the Opera (Iron Maiden)
- We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) (Tina Turner)
PHANTOMIME is out May 19 on Loma Vista. Pre-order/save here
Review by KJ Draven (Twitter and Instagram)