GHOST – Phantomime (2023) *HQ*
Swedish rockers GHOST are known for their dramatic stage shows, catchy melodies and provocative, gothic themes. That said, some fans raised eyebrows when the band announced they would be releasing a new covers EP of ’80s songs, “Phantomime“, which included renditions of everyone from Television to Tina Turner to Iron Maiden.
But, GHOST always break the rules, so one shouldn’t be surprised. Moreover, GHOST have often released unusual covers, from everything to songs originally written and recorded by THE BEATLES (“Here Comes The Sun”) to DEPECHE MODE (“Waiting For The Night”) to ABBA (“I’m A Marionette”).
GHOST fans can rest easy, though, knowing that the band truly put their own stamp on these “Phantomime” covers, fashioning them with bits of mystery and dark agony.
“Phantomime” begins with a cover of TELEVISION’s “See No Evil”, which immediately has Tobias Forge and company adding their gothic textures and atmospheres to this classic. What really stands out are the guitars, as GHOST adds some modern solos and leads to update this song, which originally arrived on TELEVISOIN’s 1977 debut, “Marquee Moon”.
“See No Evil” bleeds into the EP’s lead single, “Jesus He Knows Me”, a GENESIS song off the band’s 1991 album, “We Can’t Dance”. The song is a satire of televangelism, as it was released when storied televangelists such as Jim Bakker were being investigated for financial scandal, and that theme perfectly fits GHOST’s irreverent character. GHOST’s version keeps the song’s New Wave basis but adds some heavy riffing and rhythms, which really freshens the track up and turns it into a metal anthem.
“Hanging Around”, first released by THE STRANGLERS in 1977, follows, and it’s a true highlight. The song features some incredible organ work and a glorious backing chorus that somehow makes Forge’s vocals take a backseat: a rare experience for GHOST.
One of the most anticipated covers off the set is GHOST’s rendition of IRON MAIDEN’s “Phantom of the Opera”, and it doesn’t disappoint. Here, the guitarist Ghouls deliver the 1980 song’s famous guitar solos and shredding with absolute perfection, as the band pulls off some incredible leads and duel guitar work. “Phantom of the Opera” is a difficult song to cover, but, unsurprisingly, GHOST does more than justice with it.
“Phantomime” wraps up with an imaginative cover of the Tina Turner classic “We Don’t Need Another Hero”. Covering Turner is a brave move for any artist, but especially for a gothic heavy metal band. Here, GHOST show they can do pretty much anything, as Forge and the Ghouls deliver a very respectable cover that adds their own twist. Of course, nobody can sing like Turner, and her vocal lines are very challenging. But, Forge does a solid job adjusting his singing to fit Turner’s vocal lines, and the result is a hip-sounding hard rock version.
GHOST are one of the more unique new bands to blossom from the hard rock world in the past fifteen years, and their blend of classic rock and stadium pop-metal shines on these unlikely cover songs. Those who are married to the original songs might find GHOST’s renditions a bit too jarring, but the band’s fans will likely find lots to appreciate in a covers album that sounds like it could really be made up of GHOST originals.
01. See No Evil (TELEVISION)
02. Jesus He Knows Me (GENESIS)
03. Hanging Around (THE STRANGLERS)
04. Phantom of the Opera (IRON MAIDEN)
05. We Don’t Need Another Hero (TINA TURNER)