Swedish Ghosts and local Deadhands

Sweden’s Ghost is the most exciting heavy-metal band to emerge since Mastodon first lumbered out of the underground with 2006’s Blood Mountain. Fittingly, the two bands are now touring together, along with prog-metal monolith (and fellow Swedes) Opeth. Ghost stands to gain lots of new fans during this stateside jaunt in support of 2010 debut Opus Eponymous. The album, cherished by extreme-metal aficionados and vintage heshers alike, borrows the pop sensibility—melodic hooks, harmony vocals, synth lines—of ’70s-heyday act Blue Öyster Cult.

That they dress in robes (the singer decked out in menacing, skull-faced pope attire), celebrate ritual human sacrifice (“Ritual”), claim to be undead ghouls and don’t reveal their real names heightens the aura of mystery.

“The whole concept of the Sodom that is Las Vegas goes hand in hand with the lavish frenzy we seek to foment,” says one of the Ghouls-With-No-Name during a recent phone chat. (This Ghoul says he plays guitar.) “It’s a match made in hell.”

As for the BÖC comparisons, the Ghoul insists they’re valid given that Ghost’s aesthetic goal is to sound like a long-lost hard-rock band.

“The trick is figuring out the difference between being a silly retro act and simply embracing older techniques,” he says. “We want to make records that sound expensive and well-produced, not raw.”

The Nameless Ghoul is also content with Ghost’s Heritage Hunter Tour, which lands at House of Blues 6:30 p.m. April 25.

“We share a similar progressive attitude in that we each want to take metal in unique directions. We stand out as being pop-oriented, sure—Opeth has jazz flourishes, Mastodon is a muscle-bound macho band. Yet we feel comfortable opening for them.”

Does that mean Mastodon and Opeth fans are warming up to Ghost? “Oh yes. Like metal fans, Ghost is infatuated with the extreme underground, but we also have an affinity for ’60s and ’70s psychedelic pop. We rely on sinister riffs. However, few metal bands follow heavy guitars with melody. It’s our recipe.”

Other news: Anyone notice the disturbing trend of ultra-violent music videos by local punk and indie bands? The best is Deadhand’s “Places,” the band members starring as dissatisfied, character-costumed Disneyland employees who take revenge by blowing up the park, leaving Sleeping Beauty’s castle in flames. Next, there’s Dude City’s bloody Mexican standoff for highway-driving roots-rock anthem “Technology,” the band performing at Mountain Springs Saloon until hostile gun-wielding bikers cut the set short. Candy Warpop’s “Smilefucker” features a spoiled and sadistic birthday-party princess who beats musicians like piñatas. Not to be outdone, The Objex frontwoman Felony Melony turns lesbian zombie, kissing and devouring other hot chicks, in a video for “Lethal Lips.”

Vegas rockers, what’s with the splatter-gore? Considered switching to decaf?

Suggested Next Read

The Paris Wife

Librarian Loves

The Paris Wife

In The Paris Wife (Ballantine Books, 2011), author Paula McLain captures the allure of the Lost Generation of expatriates in Paris through her surprisingly sympathetic depiction of the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. When they met, she was a 28-year-old Midwestern spinster, he a charismatic 21-year-old aspiring writer, just back from his stint as an ambulance driver in World War I. Her practical steadiness and self-effacing support complemented his passionate yearning to experience and create. Yet, it came apart too soon.