Ghost have been on a roll with their Imperatour featuring rock giants Mastodon and an amazing female fronted band, Spiritbox. I was happy to get the call to go and cover the show in Corpus Christi, Texas. Quite the drive but so worth it for Ghost.
First up was a band I have known about for a bit but I have not been able to catch a live show. Spiritbox, who is fronted by Courtney LaPlante. Who you may know from Iwrestledabearonce. If you haven’t heard them I suggest going on spotify and check them out. With their mix of hardcore, metal-core and a little nu-metal. They really kicked off this show hard and heavy. Now for a photographer, the lighting was not so kind. Very backlit but I was still happy to be able to cover them and hope to again in the near future.
Next up to take the stage were metal titans Mastodon. With eight studio albums and a Grammy under their belt, the neo-psych creatives didn’t hesitate to take the audience on a ride into a captivating ten-song set. Opening with “Pain and Anchor”, the lead single off of their most recent album release, vocalist and guitarist Brent Hinds stands stage right seamlessly mastering vocals and guitar riffs. Guitarist Bill Kelliher took his part to the next level, interacting with the audience while performing brutally crisp riffs, occasionally throwing out a guitar pick or two. Scenes replicating that of a psychedelic trip cover the stage on a double platform hosting the drummer, Brann Dailor, and keyboardist, João Nogueira.
Just as things appeared to slow down, Hinds calls to the audience with their newest single, “Teardrinker”. The title of the song itself will catch any metalhead’s attention, and it did not fail to do so either. Classics from their earlier albums also held their well-deserved spot on the setlist, including “Megalodon” off their 2004 release, Leviathan. “Mother Puncher” closed out their massive set.
It’s rare to come across a fanbase as loyal and visibly devoted to their beloved Swedish group, Ghost. Decorated fans in diabolical ensembles, girls dressed as nuns known as the ‘Sisters of Sin” and faces of all ages painted in black and white skull makeup portraying that of Papa Emeritus IV.
A cream curtain covered every inch of the stage as the set slowly began to take form. Sacred hymns filled the stadium as the lights started to fade. A bright spotlight cast behind a Nameless Ghoul as he opens up with an amazing guitar riff. At last, the curtain dropped, to an explosive opening featuring the eight Nameless Ghouls. The meticulously executed stage set reveals three massive stained-glass windows, with sacred image portrayals of Papa Emeritus IV himself. “Kaisarion”, the first song on the setlist, opens with an upbeat orchestra of bright guitar riffs. A few beats later Papa Emeritus IV runs out center stage to an arena packed with cheering fans. “Rats”, it is nearly impossible to take eyes off the theatrics happening on stage. I know majority of fans are there for Papa, but the Nameless Ghouls exchange wholesome interactions, battling out riffs on opposite sides of the stage. The occult-rock act hosts a storyline, bringing the band and audience into the act through the show. Towards the end of the show “Year Zero” hits and the crowd absolutely lost it. The pillar of flames during the song were a sight to see. Papa Emeritus IV transitions through multiple costume changes, most notably being the Papal Robe and matching Mitre, embellished in dazzling rhinestones and the signature upside-down cross symbol. Closing the show with “Mummy Dust” and “Square Hammer”, the crowd is showered with fake bills resembling an American one-hundred bill, with one small difference, they are worth six hundred and sixty-six dollars.
What an amazing show. A theatrical spectacle not to miss.