Release Date: Nov 19, 2013
Record label: Loma Vista Recordings / Republic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Scandinavian Metal
After simultaneously elevating and skewering the black metal scene with their riveting yet almost cartoonishly evil 2013 major-label debut, Infestissumam, Ghost B.C. (the B.C. is silent everywhere else but the United States) turned their greasepaint and pontiff hat-adorned heads to less Lovecraftian fare with If You Have Ghost, a five-track EP that should lay to rest any notion that the Swedish occult rockers are goat blood-drinking Burzum disciples.
This EP by the costumed doom-metal Swedes (they are Ghost B.C. here for legal reasons) is a weird, appealing detour from their regular godless crunch. Produced by Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, the record features dark-chrome covers from less-obvious hells, including Depeche Mode's melancholy "Waiting for the Night," Abba's "I'm a Marionette" and the acid-casualty haunting of Roky Erickson's "If You Have Ghosts." The songs bring out the progleaning pop lurking in Ghost's bones – the Yes-like gleam in Papa Emeritus II's singing; the guitars' symphonic-fuzz decorum – while a live version of Ghost's "Secular Haze" reminds you that, in this band, the devil is still in charge of the details.
Despite their imagery tending toward the dramatic, dark, and satanist, Swedish metal outfit Ghost B.C. often sound surprisingly non-evil on record, as on this year’s Infestissumam. Sure, there are flourishes of ritualistic gloom, but there’s an approachable, radio-friendly element to the metal that papal-robed frontman Papa Emeritus II and Co. deliver, no matter how much their branding would seem to suggest something exclusively menacing and heavy.
"Ghost B.C.’s first effort at a covers EP is another difficult, tedious listen." Failing to prove themselves as more than a theatrical fad with their two amazingly okay full lengths, Ghost B.C.’s first effort at a covers EP is another difficult, tedious listen. Bringing nothing memorable or captivating to their versions of Depeche Mode’s ‘Waiting For The Night’ or Army Of Lover’s ‘Crucified’, ‘If You Have Ghost’ feels unnecessary and overall, unwanted. If anything, the bonus live version of fan favourite ‘Secular Haze’ does show what the band are capable of at the best of times.
It might be time for Sweden's Ghost B.C. to give their hooded robes, inverted crosses and frightening face paint back to the black metal practitioners they borrowed them from. Their five-song EP produced by Dave Grohl and featuring covers of songs by ABBA, Depeche Mode, Roky Erickson and Army of Lovers is ridiculously lightweight. Gone are the creepy atmospherics, headbanging-inducing riffs (aside from some too brief guitarmonies on DM's Waiting For The Night) and in-your-face bass lines, which Grohl mustn't have realized are the band's secret weapon.
Here’s a weird little curiosity from gimmicky hard-rockers Ghost BC: a five-track EP consisting of four covers and a live track. For hardcore fans of the band, this might be worth picking up, but it’s of little-to-no interest to anybody else. Lead track “If You have Ghosts”, originally by Roky Erickson, is watery and forgettable, a series of musical and lyrical clichés that are better forgotten by all involved.