Ghost – Phantomime

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Overall Score: 7/10
Consistency : 6/10
Creativity : 7/10
Jesus He Knows Me: 10/10
Pros: Another fun collection of covers that may not be essential but still worth a listen
Cons: Some selections just don't have much of an impact for various reasons

Ghost fans have become accustomed to getting an extra tasty morsel following a big album campaign, with the Phantomime EP coming in as the latest addition to the catalogue. Serving as a stop gap to the massively successful Impera campaign that continues to roll on, a small selection of covers has got a big task ahead of itself to be called essential listening. That being said, Ghost have proven themselves to be a great covers band in the past and that track record deserves praise. This time around, it’s a mixed bag that varies from song-to-song.

When billboards were sighted earlier this year with Papa Emeritus IV and the words “Jesus Is Coming”, fans instantly started excitingly speculating. When Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott appeared on a re-release of Spillways, it’s fair to say there was some confusion (and not just because he was hard to find on the track). Once their cover of Jesus He Knows Me by Genesis arrived, the whole picture started to make more sense. Anyone who is familiar with the original track would’ve surely let out an audible “Well, of course” before even hearing a note of this cover.

The cynical and satirical lyrics feel so at home in Ghost’s wheel house with Tobias Forge himself describing the choice to cover the track as “a given”. Whilst the original hides the commentary with such upbeat and happy keys and melodies, this cover gives this track an added layer of bite. In the way that Cirice and Call Me Little Sunshine are tempting you into the shadows, Jesus He Knows Me follows a similar tone but by way of infomercial. This era of the band is best described as bombastic and the bridge is a great example of this, blowing the track into skyscraper proportions before coming back to that driving riff that gives it incredible energy.

It’s right up there with the best selections in their covers catalogue. The final track is another great showcase of them at their most euphoric. There aren’t many bands that could do such an overwhelmingly huge track like We Don’t Need Another Hero justice but they’re able to turn it into a stadium rock song. With the original being written for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, this could easily be the end credits or pivotal scene ballad for a blockbuster.

See No Evil by Television is another solid choice that benefits from the sound that characterises this particular chapter of the band’s career. With the original feeling so understated, Forge and his merry band of ghouls coat the track in excess. From art punk to hair metal pomp, it’s big in every way possible. Hanging Around is the one cut where the identity feels a bit at odds with itself. With the distinct vocal style and organ melodies that carry the original, it just doesn’t feel like the best fit for what Ghost can bring to a cover.

They’ve tried their hand at so many styles that would be considered out of their usual bag but that certainly isn’t the case with Phantom Of The Opera by Iron Maiden. Unlike the Genesis and Tina Turner selections, you aren’t coming into this one expecting anything entirely new and that’s what you get. What is there to be said about this one, Phantom is an incredible song and Ghost are a great band. It’s not a remarkable cover that people are going to reach for over the original but it’s still a fun listen. It’s just a bit too close to home which doesn’t allow for a whole lot of variation. 

It’s always fascinating to see a band that is so creative and conceptual try their hand at covers and at the very least, you can always bank on Ghost doing something interesting. Whilst there are a few that don’t really require second listens here, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Hanging Around is the one that feels the least smooth in execution and even then, it’s a good time when it’s on, it just doesn’t have staying power. Jesus He Knows Me is legitimately an essential track for the band, with it being a perfect fit for Ghost that they’re able to leave their mark on. On top of that, you get an Iron Maiden and Tina Turner cover back-to-back. It’s not going to steal the spotlight away from Impera but it does add a few extra kickstarts into the remainder of the album cycle with a couple tracks to freshen things up a little.

The Phantomime EP is available now via Loma Vista with merch bundles and physical copies available via their store.

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