Published on October 23rd, 2016 | by Justin G.
With next to no advance warning, Grammy-winning Swedish heavy metal band Ghost delivered a brand new EP last month. Timed to coincide with their latest tour, the Popestar EP (much like their 2013 If You Have Ghost EP) finds Papa Emeritus III and his band of Nameless Ghouls putting a new spin on some unexpected songs. Here’s the track-by-track breakdown:
1. Square Hammer – This is the one original song on this EP, and it’s ridiculously catchy. You could buy Popestar for just this song and get your money’s worth from all the repeated listens you’re going to give it. This is about as high as we’ve heard Papa’s vocals too, which makes you wonder if this is closer to his actual voice.
2. Nocturnal Me – This is an old Echo and the Bunnymen song. It’s not the first time Ghost has taken an old new wave/pop song and made it spookier than Hell. This is dark, heavy and satisfies in an Opus Eponymous kind of way.
3. I Believe – If anything is going to drive Ghost’s more metal-oriented fans nuts, it’s the band covering electronic act Simian Mobile Disco. Ghost takes the song and gives it an almost acoustic treatment – vocals, keys and minimal percussion. It’s atmospheric, but doesn’t really go anywhere.
4. Missionary Man – Yes, the old Eurythmics hit. Ghost plays it pretty much straight, and it works better than it has a right to. The vocals are irritating at times, but overall the cover is too upbeat to resist.
5. Bible – This is probably the most interesting song on the EP. It was originally performed by Imperiet, a Swedish alternative group. The song has a biblical theme (obviously) and seems arranged almost like a musical/rock opera piece. It’s big and dramatic and gorgeous, and sounds almost like Ghost doing Jesus Christ Superstar, which is pretty damned surreal. Again we hear more vocal range from Papa.
Overall, Popestar is hit and miss, much like If You Have Ghost was. “Square Hammer” and “Bible” are absolutely mandatory songs though, and “Nocturnal Me” isn’t far behind. The other two range from OK to pretty good, so we’ll call this an easy 4-star EP. If you’re a Ghost fan, you know you need to own it. And if you loved the direction of Meliora, chances are you’ll love Popestar as well.
Summary: More Ghost is always a good thing.