Tag

heavy metal music

Special

What to get Rock and Metal fans this Christmas!

Related to a rocker? Married to a metalhead? At EMP, the gift options for loud music fanatics is endless!

Let’s start with rockers.

In addition to a huge selection of band merch , we have several brands tailored to music enthusiasts. The most applicable here is Rock Rebel – it’s in the name! With products ranging from bikinis to studded boots, you’ll be sure to find something for that rebellious spirit. For a rock chick, I’d recommend these rockin’ Ruby boots

 

And for a rock dude I’d recommend this awesome charred red Through The Glass long-sleeve shirt

 

Thinking about getting merch but unsure which band to pick? How about a little band you might have heard of called Foo FightersThey’re touring the UK next summer and everybody likes them; I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t! With a whole range of cool items to choose from, such as this varsity jacket, you’re bound to find something for Foo Fighter fan fulfillment!

 

Your loved one more into the old-school stuff? Get her/him a Led Zeppelin beanie to keep warm this winter. Or one of the many other items we have in our Led Zeppelin section

There’s also a new band on the scene which is heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin that has been turning heads recently. They’re touring the UK next year as well but it looks like all the shows are sold out already! Check out this Greta Van Fleet tee.

 

 

Perhaps your rocker is already inundated in band merch and you’re looking for something a bit different. How about one of our selection of Funko Pop! figurines? We’ve got Slash from Guns N’ Roses, Lemmy from Motorhead, Kurt Cobain from Nirvana and several other rock icons in our inventory.

We were all moved and inspired by Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody earlier this year so a poster of Freddie Mercury as a reminder to stay humble is another gift that will be hard not to appreciate!

 

Metalheads

If your gift recipient prefers the heavier end of the music spectrum, you’ll want to have a think about gifts for metalheads instead and we’ve got no shortage of choices there. Gojira has blown up recently and has become, in my humble opinion, one of the best metal bands on the planet. They’re also just one of those bands that all metalheads seem to love; you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t – I assure you.

German powerhouse Rammstein are releasing a new album and playing a huge one-off UK show in Milton Keynes next year (so many awesome shows to look forward to next year – have you seen the Download line-up!?). If your metalhead was lucky enough to get a ticket, she/he will definitely love receiving some new Rammstein merch, of which we have loads! Too much to choose from? I’d recommend this trusty shoulder bag.

Is your loved one constantly forgetting which day of the week it is? Get them this official Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast calendar to stay in check!

In addition to Iron Maiden, we’ve got plenty of merch available from other classic, pioneering metal bands like Black Sabbath and Metallica as well. Did I mention that all our merch is official? Support the music industry guys!

A great gift for music enthusiasts of any genre is an LP. Vinyl is coming back in a big way and owning a physical copy of your favourite album truly is a fantastic feeling. Give your loved one that feeling with one of the vinyls from our store. The new remastered version of Appetite for Destruction, one of the best-selling albums of all time, is a must have for any vinyl collector!

Our range isn’t restricted to just rock/metal bands, the likes of Johnny Cash and David Bowie are present as well (pun intended).

Looking for something particularly Christmassy instead? Check out our Christmas jumpers. Or how about these badass baubles?

Still unconvinced? Use our official gift finder tool!

Basically, there’s really no better place to buy gifts for a rock/metalhead than EMP so head on over and find the right gift to keep your headbanger happy.

 

 

 

 

Fashion, Gifts, Special

Gift Ideas for Alternative Fashion Lovers

 

Typically, fashion for the Christmas season is either all about sparkly dresses for the inevitable run of Christmas parties or big wooly jumpers for mince pies with your nan. But spare a thought for those alternative types among us for whom sequins and glitter are about as alien as death metal is to your aunty Sue. If you have a Gothic type or alternative fashion fan among your nearest and dearest, then look no further for some easy gift ideas that are sure to hit the mark this Christmas.

 

For him

 

EMP Signature Collection Iron Maiden Sneakers

Everyone needs a good pair of Converse or sneakers. In fact, the more the merrier. If you know someone who basically lives in their Converse, check out our EMP exclusive sneakers with designs from loads of metal bands and TV series. These Iron Maiden sneakers have a grungy feel thanks to their graffiti-style design and are perfect for fans of the band. They’re basically a must have at gigs or festivals too.

Devil’s Plaything Boxers

 

 

I know, I know. You don’t want to be that person who always gives underwear and socks. But hear me out. There’s a good reason why pants and socks make great gifts – they’re on budget, everyone needs them, and most guys never remember to buy them for themselves. But forget tighty-whities and embarrassing ‘comedy’ prints. Instead at least amplify the cool factor with these skull and rockhand designs from EMP’s Black Premium label. This set offers three different designs made from comfy and fresh cotton. All black too, of course. If you have to give pants, at least give cool pants.

 

Sound Check Denim Jacket

 

 

Denim jackets are a wardrobe staple, and for good reason. This design from RED by EMP won’t just keep you warm but also looks really cool. The black denim jacket also has a detachable sweater hood which is ideal for the colder months and can be removed for warmer days. See, versatile! The slightly faded wash is really on trend, too. A simple black jacket is always a safe bet as a gift as it’s pretty guaranteed to match well with the recipient’s existing wardrobe and style, and can be worn for years to come.

 

Black Sabbath Tour T-shirt

 

 

If in doubt, a T-shirt is a fail-safe option. And this Black Sabbath Tour T-shirt from EMP’s Signature Collection is a great example of T-shirt that’s unique, stylish and perfect for an alternative look. It’s a well-known fact that throwing on a rock or metal band T-shirt gives instant edge to any outfit, even if you don’t actually listen to the band in question (Ramones, anyone?)… Of course this tee is ideal for fans of the classic band, but its vintage look is definitely in style in any case and will really elevate a casual outfit, especially with jeans and heavy-duty black boots.

Silver Thor’s Hammer Ring

 

 

When it comes to jewellery and accessories for men, it can be a bit tricky to know what’s going to be well received. For some inspiration, check out the range by cult brand etNox, who have loads of seriously cool and individual pieces to choose from. In general, think Celtic, Nordic or Gothic. This Silver Thor’s Hammer Ring is a really chunky and weighty ring with runic carvings around the edge and a Norse design. Everyone needs something extra to add interest to their outfit, and a couple of unique pieces of jewellery are a must-have for any alternative fashion lover.

 

Vanish Hood Hooded Sweater

 

 

It’s winter, after all, so it definitely makes sense to gift warm and cosy items rather than clothing that will have to wait until summer. But for those who wouldn’t be seen dead in a knitted jumper, a casual hoodie is a great choice. This Vanish Hood Hooded Sweater isn’t your typical boring hoodie though. Of course it’s black, with ribbed detailing on the cuffs. But it also has a cool little feature that makes it a bit more interesting, in the form of a pull-up collar with a skull print, that can keep your face warm as well as making you look pretty spooky. It also has generously-sized kangaroo pockets as you’d expect from any good hoodie.

 

 

For her

 

Ruah Vered Necklace

 

 

For a lower-budget gift or a little something extra, Gothic-inspired jewellery is the perfect finishing touch to any alternative look. To find the perfect piece, look no further than the Alchemy Gothic collection at EMP, where there are simply dozens of stunning pieces at surprisingly cheap prices. Just one gorgeous example is this Ruah Vered Necklace which features a thorny black rose entwined through a Gothic-style star shape. The matching earrings are also available if you want to make a full set. This necklace is sure to look perfect when combined with pretty much any black top or dress.

 

Bone Leggings

 

 

These Bone Leggings from Fashion Victim are both fun and flattering. A healthy dose of skulls and bones belongs in any Goth-girl or alternative chick’s wardrobe, and I feel that these quirky leggings strike the right balance and will pair really well with a long top and boots. Whether at a gig or just as a statement piece, these leggings are super versatile and useful too.

Don’t Know Where To Go T-shirt

 

 

When alternative meets Disney. Know an alternative girl who’s also into Disney? Why not combine the two with this adorable yet suitably dark Alice t-shirt? Alice has always had her darker side (did anyone else play American McGee’s delightfully twisted Alice in Wonderland game back in the day?), and this t-shirt captures that with this Gothic print and insightful quote: “If you don’t know where you want to go then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” This addition to an outfit pairs much better with black boots and Gothic accessories than with twee headbands and patent pumps.

 

Angel City Cardigan

 

 

For anyone who likes their clothes both dark and stylish, EMP’s very own brand Black Premium should be your go-to for creating cool looks for either gigs and festivals or everyday wear. At this cold time of year, a practical and cosy cardigan certainly make a great gift, and this Angel City Cardigan has the added bonus of looking pretty cool as well as being comfy and warm. The subtle all-over skulls and flowers print and the black lace segment at the top elevate this cardigan from practical to really eye-catching.

 

Destroyed Knitted Sweater

 

 

Know someone who thinks jumpers are boring or just for old people? Prove them wrong with this seriously cool Destroyed Knitted Sweater by alternative brand forplay. The jumper has a flatteringly fitted shape and a completely destroyed look. Of course your grandma is going to be desperately trying to mend it, so probably save it for the next night out or event. A jumper is a must for the winter season, but there’s no reason it can’t have a bit of a rock n’ roll attitude.

 

If you didn’t find anything you like then never fear! We have over 20,000 products in the EMP store, so why not browse through our alternative clothing for women or men, or check out our gift finder to find the perfect present!

EMP, Music

We Came As Romans – Forever remembered in loving eyes

We came As Romans has always been in the top 5 of my favourite bands, I will go so far as to say that their album “Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be” is a metalcore masterpiece. That album does something cool that it got 12 tracks, the first 5 is very dark and negative and lead writer Joshua Moore talks about his own flaws as a human, the 6th track “A War Inside” is 5 minutes long and in the middle of the song almost down to the second there is a piano break and from that point the album switched themes to something positive and the next 5 songs is about overcoming mental illness, just spread love and be kind to each other, before ending with a reflection in the last song that also is the title track. I could honestly talk about that album and why its brilliant for hours. As you can probably tell I am a huge We Came As Romans fan and unfortunately for me the show sold out before I could get tickets so I panic-emailed their press contact hoping to get an interview and a guest list spot, and I luckily did!

I came to Underworld a normal May day, the sky was grey as is tradition in London and the temperature was fairly warm. The first band was hours away but already the queue almost went around the block, which is understandable with a brilliant line up consisting of Polaris, The Plot In You, Alazka, and of course We Came As Romans everything was in the cards that it would be a brilliant night!

I got a text from the tour-manager to meet him behind the venue and he would take me in the backdoor, the walls inside were covered in stickers, and I was just mesmerized by all the shows that had taken place in the venue. So much history on these prisonesque walls. After a short set of stairs, I was in the surprisingly big greenroom, all the bands were chilling with their stuff. Drinks were being consumed and Dave (unclean vocals WCAR) sat on his mac in the corner. I was meeting Josh (lead guitar) and David (drummer) but Josh had disappeared so while the TM was hunting him down I got to have a short talk with Kyle which in retrospect is something I will forever cherish. After Josh had been located we headed to the tour bus and had a 20 min talk you can check in this video.

The interview wrapped up and I headed inside to catch the show, and what a show! Every band completely knocked it out of the park. I stood so close to barrier as I could and kept getting kicked in the back of my head by crowd surfers, which most of the time is a sure sign of a good show. The newcomers in the scene Polaris did put on a great show, and I am really convinced they are a band that we will see grow and grow. The Plot in You is a band I have enjoyed for a long time and was excited to see them Landon is an extremely strong vocalist and the emotion he conveys in his voice is second to none. Alazka the co-headliner was probably the band I was least familiar with, but after their set I would definitely call myself a fan.
We Came As Romans however, wow. What a set. They started off with Vultures With Clipped Wings and the second Dave screamed “I never found peace, but now I am fighting a war” people went insane and was just in awe song after song. David and Kyle did a duo thing in the middle of the set combining a drum solo with an EDM sound and even that made people jump. It was the first show in a long time I wish wouldn’t end but alas during their second to last song “Tracing Back Roots” I had to back down to the bar and get a million litres of water before dying of dehydration. The show ended with them playing “Hope” and even with aching bones and a ringing in my ears me and so many others went home with a smile on their faces.

 

But, to end this with the elephant in the room… After the production of this video finished We Came As Romans vocalist Kyle Pavone sadly passed away.

Because of that I was honestly struggling to write this blog. For weeks I stared at the screen trying to come up with what to say. If I wrote it just after the show I’d be fine, if I wrote it in July I’d be fine, if I wrote it August 24th I’d be fine, everything before August 25th would be fine, but since its currently October 1st I have to struggle to hold back the tears thinking back to seeing a show I absolutely loved and will never be able to see again. I remember when in 2016 Architects‘ guitarist Tom Searle died of cancer it hit me like a brick, then last year when Chester Bennington died I saw the article and had to go to the backroom of the 7/11 I worked at the time just to have a decent cry and listen to some Linkin Park. And now just over a month ago, I was on holiday in my home country (Norway) having a beer with some friends and having a good time before getting a text from a friend saying “Kyle Pavone is dead.”…

 

It felt like time stopped for a second, I refused to believe it, thinking it was a messed up joke. But at one point I had to accept the truth. I guess in the end you just have to appreciate the music we got from Kyle and try to take a lesson from him, mainly that life kinda suck, but that doesn’t mean we cannot make it a bit less shit by trying to spread love, make other people smile and live for each other. Rest in peace Kyle, in “Promise me” you worry about not being remembered after your passing, but I can assure you: you will be remembered in loving eyes.

Our thoughts go out to the band and Kyle’s family and friends. Please check out The Kyle Pavone Foundation that works to help people in the music community that are struggling with mental illness or addiction. https://kylepavonefoundation.org/

– Alex Dante

Check out We Came As Romans and more band merch here! 👉 emp.me/177Y

BACKSTAGE, EMP, Music, Special

Bloodstock Festival 2018

Of All the metal festivals I’ve been to in the UK, Europe & across America, Bloodstock is easily one of my favourites. I’ve personally been going since 2010, I even played on the mainstage in 2016 (which was incredible). The atmosphere amongst fans is always amazing. For those of you who haven’t been yet, its family friendly, easy to get around, no overcrowding, you don’t have to pay £20 for a beer, the food is great and caters for all tastes. And of course the line-up is always diverse (as much as it can be in rock / metal).

About 50% of my friendship circle I have today, I made at a Bloodstock Festival, as did most people I know. The best bit is that Bloodstock was made by the fans for the fans, even way back in 2001 but back then it was held in 2,000 capacity indoor venue that the MIGHTY Saxon headlined. In 2005, it went open air and most Bloodstock goers now simply name it as “Home”.

EMP were there of course, we had a stall in-between the signing tent and the mainstage where we were selling some of our merchandise and handing out cool EMP freebies. Best of all, we got to meet some really great people and of course, see some excellent bands play!

Bloodstock starts on the Thursday evening and the second stage (which is named after Sophie Lancaster  – R.I.P) is the only one open until things really start on Friday. Everyone goes there to hang out, catch up with friends and watches the first bands of the festival, which obviously means party night. So, when it comes to the 1st actual day of the festival there are a lot of hangovers walking around on that field in Catton Park.

The main headliners of the weekend were Judas Priest (seriously, how awesome is their new album?!), Gojira and Nightwish. There are 3 stages all within a few minutes walking distance of each other: The Ronnie James Dio mainstage, The Sophie Lancaster second stage and the New Blood stage. Now the New Blood stage deserves a special mention here: The line-up is made of winners of the Metal 2 The Masses competition which is held all over the UK each year which gives the opportunity to up and coming bands to play at a big festival, expand their fan base and gain exposure – how cool is that! If you are an up and coming rock/metal band I highly recommend you check it out and enter. Its run by Bloodstock’s Simon Hall (legend) and EMP are a part of this too, we sponsor the finals – cool right!

The 3 days of Bloodstock for Team EMP were a fun chaotic mix of selling lots of merchandise, handing out a ton of EMP freebies, chatting to EMP customers about anything and everything, getting rained on, getting burnt by the sun, eating good food and amongst all this we even had the pleasure of interviewing some really cool bands!

These are just some of the friends old and new that we caught up with:

Blakkheim and Axe of Bloodbath
Henrik of Evergrey
Hamish of Godthrymm (who’s also my fellow guitarist and dear friend in Vallenfyre)
Lord Ragnar Wagner of The Heretic Order
Dan of Monument (video below)
Brady of Conjurer
Raimund of Nailed to Obscurity (fun fact – Raimund works at EMP too!)
Josh and Morgan of Bloodshot Dawn
Chris of Act of Defiance (cheers for the coffee!)
Karl of Memoriam (previously of Bolt Thrower)
Matt and Jason of Weight of The Tide

Huge thanks goes out to all of those guys for their time as I know they all probably had beers waiting for them to drink somewhere.

My personal highlights of the festival was watching Hamish of Godthrymm perform on the Sophie Stage, watching Henrik of Evergrey playing guitar in a way that I can only dream about, witnessing Negative Thought Process absolutely destroy the New Blood Stage just like I knew they would and seeing Gojira headlining the festival on the Saturday night – that was absolutely Incredible. It was a real “I was there!” moment to look back on in years to come!

This is my first year as the Event Manager for EMP so it was my first time working for EMP at Bloodstock and I must say that I met some great people over the 3 – 4 days there. So to those of you who came to visit us, chatted to us, bought merchandise from us, we thank you!

None of this would have been possible without the support of the Bloodstock team – Adam Gregory, Simon Hall, Alan Hungerford and your crew, we can’t thank you guys enough.

See you in 2019 Bloodstock, Cheers!

Sam Kelly-Wallace
EMP Events Manager UK & IE

BACKSTAGE, EMP, Music, Special

Of Mice & Men – The Story Of Resilience and Sacrifice

I don’t know if you ever read the depression-era masterpiece “Of Mice & Men” by John Steinbeck growing up? I never did but I did see a YouTube recap before writing this blog and I can see why the California based metalcore band took their name from the book. Of Mice & Men have always been ambitious, but even with their success they’ve faced their fair share of challenges. When Shayley Bourget (now Dayshell frontman) left the band in 2012, people thought the band was dead, but the band were adamant on keeping on  Jaime’s Elsewhere vocalist Aaron Pauley to the line-up as clean vocalist and bassist, and kept going with their 3rd album “Restoring Force”.

The band kept going for a few years until December 2016 when frontman Austin Carlile decided to focus on his health. Of Mice & Men being one of the heavy hitters in metalcore were now faced with an ultimatum: do they throw in the towel after losing Austin or do they keep going as 4 piece? The very fact that I’m writing this now should hint to their choice. Now they recently released “Defy” their newest album, to a decent reception, and when I talked to them they were closing in on the end of the European leg of their tour with Sylar and Wage War!

I arrive at KOKO in London late afternoon and after a quick chat with the fans waiting in line (you with the Shrek mask, if you read this say hi!) I got a text that it was time. I got to chill a bit backstage before Aaron and Tino came in and had a quick chat while setting up, and we got to chat a bit about touring, albums and me managing to mispronounce Tino’s name 5 minutes after meeting. Anyway check out the interview below and enjoy!

Check out our Of Mice & Men and more band merch!

BACKSTAGE, EMP, Music, Special

Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards – An evening with Parkway Drive, Ozzy Osbourne and a lot of fire

Us metalheads have to face the harsh truth that the Grammy’s is never going to acknowledge our genre. It is true that they give out an award for “Best metal performance” but it’s usually announced before the actual show during an un-televised event where the house band introduce Megadeth with “Master Of Puppets” and the bands just show up for the open bar. Luckily the magazine Metal Hammer decided to take matters into their own hands and founded the “Golden Gods Awards” in 2003. EMP have been invited to many over the years and here we’re going to give you the low down on what happened on the 16th anniversary!

The evening started off on the black carpet. Artists and journalists alike were all excited to see who would take the awards home and were all mingling in front of the media wall sharing laughs and stories. I had the honour of once again bumping into Betraying the MartyrsAaron Matts, whom the observant EMP follower would know I interviewed a few months ago and we had a quick catch-up before heading upstairs to catch the main event!

 

 

The show started off with a hilarious MC warming up the crowd, mostly by making us yell, growl and scream in a matter that took me back to my college days studying music. After the vocal warm-up, the show started with a brilliant performance from “Carpenter Brut” firing the starting gun. After a performance with a ton of energy to make sure the crowd was in a good mood, it was time for the awards.

The time from there on out flew by! The ever so talented Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed guided us through the nominees and guest presenters brilliantly and it was exhilarating seeing bands like Wolves in The Throne Room and Code Orange getting the awards and recognition they deserved! (full list of winners at the end of the blog)

After the first half of the awards the stage was made ready for the band that would win the Inspiration Award later in the evening: Meshuggah! Meshuggah, to no one’s surprise, delivered an amazing show with great songs and a performance for the ages, showing that even though they have been around a while and are starting to get older, they have no intention of stopping! After the progressive-djent metal that is Meshuggah wrapped up their last song, it was time for an acoustic performance by Myrkur! She walked on stage with a cello and a single drum preforming a haunting song that instantly took you to the dark forests of Scandinavia with trolls and hulders – a truly a mesmerizing performance that proved she was worthy the “Best album” award. The last band before the second half of awards were Grammy nominated band Baroness. Baroness preformed a set that combined punk and sludge in a fun way and was the perfect choice to wake up the audience before the last half of the awards with heavy hitter awards like the “Icon” and “Golden God Award”!

 

The second half of the show starts of Jamey Jasta making some jokes and once again introducing guest presenters to give out awards like “Defenders of Faith” and the “Inspiration award” One of the highlights however was the “Global Metal Award” that made its debut this year, and the recipient Kaoteon from Beirut was well deserving. Kaoteon came from a world where they’ve been arrested and beaten simply for playing the music they love; they truly deserve our respect for standing steadfast and facing adversary for the genre we all love. The last award of the evening however was the famous “Golden God” award introduced by none other than Zakk Wylde himself honoring the winner Ozzy Osbourne with a brilliant speech about Ozzy’s accomplishments throughout a 50-year long career. After Ozzy received the award with a simple “Thank you, it’s an honor” it was time for the main event and fresh “Defender of The Faith” winner: Parkway Drive!

Parkway Drive is a band I’ve seen 4 times already and their shows always include a lot of fire – something which the fire department in Oslo, Norway can attest to after a show I went to 2016 where front man Winston got a bit too excited playing with flares. This show also included a lot of pyro and the stage production quality was through the roof with drummer Ben Gordon spending a large portion of the set playing upside down in a huge hamster-wheel! The set (which I wish never ended) flew by playing both new and old songs; but alas it had to come to an end and with it a brilliant evening honouring the musicians and bands we all love.

 

 

 

I must give a huge thank you to Metal Hammer for putting this together. Metal is a wonderful genre in that it’s so vast and inclusive: you could stand in the crowd and see strangers from all walks of life hugging and having a great time because at the end of the day, we were all there sharing the same passion and same love; and with that it’s okay that the Grammys might not ever properly acknowledge us. Us metalheads are a huge family with friends at every show, and that shared community is worth more than all of Kanye West’s awards multiplied by 4. (he got 231 if you were wondering)

-Alex Dante

All the winners:

Best New Band: Lovebites

Best Underground Band: Wolves in The Throne Room

Best UK Band: Judas Priest

Best International Band: Arch Enemy

Best Event: Download Festival

Best Live Band: Lacuna Coil

Best Independent Label: Sumerian Records

Breakthrough Artist: Code Orange

Riff Lord: Wes Borland

Defender Of The Faith: Parkway Drive

Inspiration: Meshuggah

Best Album: Myrkur“Mareridt”

Global Metal Award: Kaoteon

Spirit Of Hammer: Jessica Pimentel

Icon: James Keenan

Golden God: Ozzy Osbourne

EMP, Music, Special

Ghost – Prequelle: Album Review

Ghost have been going from strength to strength in recent years. When they burst onto the scene in 2010 they were more of a curiosity than a full-fledged part of the metal world, thanks to Papa Emeritus’ extravagant costumes, the fully disguised ‘nameless ghouls’ and the band’s knack for mixing blasphemous themes of death and the devil with downright catchy music and clean vocals. Certainly, they’ve never been a band that you could be indifferent about. And whilst the gimmicks might have been a nice way to get attention, it’s the music that keeps the fans there. Music which has remained of an extremely high caliber since day one (or Year Zero, if you will). So naturally there was considerable hype regarding the release of the band’s new album ‘Prequelle’ with a brand-new member of the satanic clergy at the helm.

In a way, the choice to ‘fire’ yet another Papa Emeritus (we were already on Papa Emeritus III by the third album) in favour of the significantly less intimidating Cardinal Copia looks quite a lot like a deliberate step away from their satanic image towards something which is still quirky but a bit less cumbersome. Since the satanic pope’s real identity has been making its way into the media anyway thanks to the legal quarrels between (nameless) band members, it was probably time for Tobias Forge to shed a couple of layers of papal robes and be a little freer. What does this mean for the music, though?

Whilst the band’s image and music have always been separate beasts, there is certainly something of a trend going on. When I last saw Ghost at Bloodstock festival in 2017, Papa/Forge shed most of his costume halfway through the set anyway, opting for a mostly black ensemble and a corpse-paint makeup style instead, marking a shift from the band’s first two albums to the slightly more classic rock style of Meliora. Yet another image change and (mock) personnel change looks to herald another significant shift in musical style for the band. In my opinion, it seems that they’re gradually trying to drop some of the gimmicky elements which made them famous but have gradually begun to hold them back in terms of experimentation. We can no longer expect spooky organs, satanic invocations and liberal use of slightly grammatically-incorrect Latin. Instead, the band have gone full steam ahead with the energetic classic rock with a twist that’s been part of their sound all the time, but has now come to the fore.

(Photo credit: www.rocksins.com)

The album opens with a creepy kids’ nursery rhyme which introduces the theme of the Black Plague / apocalypse that loosely ties the album together, then plunges straight into the lead single ‘Rats’. Straight away, you can recognize that typical Ghost sound, with the characteristic vocals and keyboards, although with a more simplistic structure and a slight 80’s touch, especially the OTT backing vocals. Is this a good direction? In my honest opinion, this isn’t one of the best tracks they’ve ever produced, which is a shame, although it’s certainly on the catchy end of the scale. As with any band, over the years the style does change and some will be more or less happy.

Faith’ kicks in with an utterly epic metal riff, which unfortunately doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the album. Whilst Ghost have never been extremely heavy, I sense the metal elements dropping away – none of the songs here have the heavy edge that, say, Mummy Dust did on the previous album. I’d have liked to hear a bit more of that riff, for sure.

Unfortunately there are one or two weaker moments on this album, especially ‘See the Light’ and ‘Dance Macabre’. ‘I wanna be wit’ you in the moonlight, I wanna be wit’ you all night’, Forge sings on ‘Dance Macabre’, a track which wouldn’t be terribly out of place on an Abba album. They are fellow Swedes, after all.

For some reason the most interesting stuff was left for the end of the album. Both instrumental tracks have left space open for Ghost to try something new musically and flex their creative muscles. ‘Helvetesfonster’ in particular has a slightly medieval sound and picks up on some of the musical themes earlier in the album, gradually seguing from classical melodies into energetic progressive rock.

My favourite track is probably ‘Pro Memoria’, something that would probably sound a little ridiculous coming from many other bands ‘don’t you forget about your friend death’… but when Cardinal Copia sings these lyrics over a background of perfectly executed keys, it ends up being a rather anthemic pean to death, which almost makes the idea of dying seem rather cheerful and fun. The final track, ‘Life Eternal’ isn’t bad either though, albeit it on the power ballad side. Forge has always had an uncanny ability to awaken the emotions, which he does here almost as well as on epic tracks like ‘Cirice’ on Meliora. It’s something that should almost be cheesy, but just because it’s Ghost, it isn’t.

Prequelle is probably never going to be my favourite Ghost album, but I can see the value in their maturing away from the satanic gimmicks and costumes and developing their style into something more universal. Whilst moments hark back to the 70’s or 80’s, others look forward to a new era of Ghost, which will definitely be something to keep an eye on.

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Alex Turner