Ghost (w/ Ancient VVisdom and Blood Ceremony) 02/02/12
The Roxy – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
There is a moment when a concert junkie realizes that what they are about to witness is not a typical show as much as it is a special moment with great historical magnitude. That moment hit me as I crossed Sunset Blvd en route to The Roxy Theatre. I watched as a young man in a Manowar T-shirt handed a scalper no less than five $20 bills for one ticket to the 13 Dates of Doom tour featuring Ancient VVisdom, Blood Ceremony and Ghost. As Ancient VVisdom wrapped their opening set, I could feel goose bumps forming on my limbs as I walked into the small theatre for the show which had been sold out for weeks.
My night of music kicked off with Toronto Doom Metal outfit, Blood Ceremony. Knowing nothing about the four piece, I was instantly mesmerized by their Black Sabbath meets Led Zeppelin riffs. While that description may sound overly generic, it works because these four don’t mess around. What sets Blood Ceremony apart from countless other metal groups is front woman Alia O’Brien. In addition to an incredible set of pipes, O’Brien splashes random colors of sound over de-tuned and bonged out guitar riffs with both an organ and a flute. Unless you are the Recording Academy (AKA The asshats who hand out Grammy awards) chances are you don’t expect to find a flute in a metal band; and yet for Blood Ceremony, it works. The Canadians had the capacity crowd eating out of the palm of their hand and their 45 minute set flew by way too fast. I don’t know when these four are hitting the road again, but if you enjoy no bullshit balls to the wall rock and roll that sounds familiar, yet unique and totally original then you need to make it a point to check Blood Ceremony out.
Somehow, the already packed theatre managed to cram even more fans in by the time Ghost hit the stage at 10:30 pm. Kicking off with the opening chants of “Masked Ball” which flowed nicely into the pulsating “Con Clavi Con Dio,” the mostly male crowd lifted cell phone and devil horns in approval.
Despite this being the group’s first Southern California concert appearance, it became clear early on that The Roxy was simply too small to contain the energy of both the band and the fans. Lead singer Papa Emeritus led his Nameless Ghouls (AKA two guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a keyboard player) into spot-on performances of every track found on their debut album Opus Eponymous. Highlights of the 45 minute headline set included “Stand By Him”, “Death Knell” and an evil take on the Beatles classic “Here Comes The Sun.”
In addition to an onslaught of highly melodic metal, Ghost is a very visual show. From the earlier mentioned Nameless Ghouls whose faces are hidden by their cloaks to the satanic pope garb (is there a proper name for those? Catholic I am not), Ghost has a uniquely sinister look. When you add in the burning of some form of sage and communion handed out by Papa Emeritus to loyal disciples in the front crowd, you have the perfect one-two punch of great music and incredible theatrics.
Towards the end of the set, Papa Emeritus growled into the microphone that this was a great show. While I won’t disagree with him, I feel that he underestimated the show. This was not just a Thursday night metal show at The Roxy. This was Elton John’s first show at The Troubadour or that night when cops came and broke up Black Flag at the Palladium. This was history and while a few hundred were lucky enough to witness it, there is no doubt in my mind that in a few years, when Ghost are headlining large rooms with thousands of fans, each and every last one of them will claim that they were in attendance at The Roxy. This is the type of show where everyone who saw it will tell 10 friends and those friends will tell 10 friends. So this is me telling you that Ghost is the total package. With their next North American trek as main support to Mastodon and Opeth, you have no excuse to miss quite possibly the greatest new heavy metal band of the last decade.