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Ghost > Phantomime > Reviews
Ghost - Phantomime

Props for Replacing Phil Collins and Angering Paul Di'Anno - 68%

kluseba, June 1st, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, CD, Loma Vista Recordings

Since the release of its second studio record, Swedish occult rock phenomenon Ghost has made it a tradition to release extended plays featuring two to five new tracks between full length efforts. Phantomime is no exception and honours covers of punk rock, pop rock and heavy metal songs from the seventies, eighties and nineties. The final result comes around with five tunes and a total running time of twenty-four minutes. While the release comes around with decent cover artwork, selling the product between fifteen and twenty bucks as is the case in Canadian record stores is exploitative. Referring to the digital release on the usual platforms is therefore highly recommended unless you're an avid collector with too much money on your hands.

While Phantomime can't equal the quality of the original material on preceding extended play Seven Inches of Satanic Panic, it turns out to be the group's greatest cover record thus far. The band's cover songs have been quite hit and miss in the past but Phantomime does an overall rather consistent effort. Punk rock tunes ''See No Evil'' by Television and ''Hanging Around'' by The Stranglers are rhythmic, melodic and catchy as Ghost has truly managed to make these tracks sound like its own. Personally, I have always despised how Phil Collins has transformed one of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time into a shallow pop band once he has become Genesis' singer and hearing anyone else than the sensitive skinhead sing ''Jesus He Knows Me'' is music to my ears, especially since the lyrics blend in with Ghost's usual style of mocking televangelism. If the topic intrigues you, let me recommend The Hooters' excellent song ''Satellite'' that is also liberatingly heavy.

The two songs that impress me less on this output are Ghost's takes on Tina Turner's ''We Don't Need Another Hero'' and Iron Maiden's ''Phantom of the Opera''. The former works so well thanks to the pop rock giant's charismatic, emotional and powerful vocals that have stood the test of time and will be remembered for ages. Tobias Forge's vocals sound pale, shallow and weak in comparison but most vocalists wouldn't hold a candle to Tina Turner to be honest. May this wonderful artist rest in peace. As for the heavy metal classic, Iron Maiden's former grumpy singer Paul Di'Anno has made unnecessarily nasty remarks about the cover while he should simply be grateful that anyone still remembers him, pays tribute to a song that is now forty-three years old and might even provide a new fan base. While Tobias Forge's enigmatic vocal style actually offers an interesting alternative to the original's rougher take, it's the instrumental work that bores to death. Aside a few minor keyboard sounds, the bass guitar, electric guitar and drum work sound almost identical to the original tune. In my opinion, it's essential for a serious attempt at a cover song to add your own touch to it and Ghost has certainly failed to do so in the instrumental department in this case.

As you can read, Ghost's Phantomime is still hit and miss even though it's slightly better than the previous extended plays consisting of cover songs. This release is however only recommended to avid collectors and faithful fans while anyone else can skip this release without any regrets. I would recommend Ghost to focus on its strong own material and stop releasing those extended plays in the future. One or two cover songs for limited editions or Japanese versions of new records are fine but those entire extended plays rather decrease the quality of the group's overall respectable discography.

Love it or hate it! - 90%

spookymicha666, May 26th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, Digital, Loma Vista Recordings

I must confess that I am an absolute Ghost fanboy and that will probably never change. Accordingly, my anticipation was great when I got to hear the advance cover song 'Jesus He Knows Me'. This song moves very close to the original, but as you could already hear with 'It's A Sin' on Prequelle, this is still absolutely gripping. Also here the song sounds very massive and powerful and you can recognize the signature of Ghost despite the closeness to the original.

But not only Genesis are covered this time in Ghost-like manner on their new EP Phantomime, but four other more or less known classics have this time the honor to get a Tobias Forge corset put over. The only song that has to do with heavy metal in the original is 'The Phantom Of The Opera' by Iron Maiden, the rest is, as already in 2013 on the "If You Have Ghost" pop (Tina Turner, Genesis) or punk music (Television, The Stranglers).

So the Swedes start with 'See No Evil' by Television, which comes across much rockier than the original from 1977. The voice sounds a bit deeper and more aggressive than the original by Tom Verlaine, who by the way passed away this year. Also, the typical Ghost keyboards are used here, which make the song even a touch more atmospheric. The second punk song, 'Hanging Around', by The Stranglers is much more upbeat than the original and you can hear that the guys must have had a lot of fun recording this song. Again, Ghost sounds incredibly punchy and is just fun to play.

'The Phantom Of The Opera' is by far the longest song of the EP and I must say, I had my doubts whether Ghost would do themselves a favor with this. But, fuck, they did. Instrumentally beyond any doubt, they rock the track and make the song sound like they wrote it personally. Again, there's the usual Ghost garb and it fits perfectly.

'We Don't Need Another Hero' falls off a bit though, as the tempo is pretty slowed down here. But with the chorus, the song is then partially saved, because this kicks a powerful ass. But maybe this assessment is also due to the fact that I never liked the song very much and thus cannot go unbiased to it.

Remains as a conclusion to state that Ghost have once again provided for some surprises and (at least me) once again do not disappoint and make happy with this EP. I hope that after the next tour a new album will follow!

Rating: 9 out of 10

Originally written for

Holy Shit! Ghost Will Make This Iron Maiden Band So Famous! - 55%

Sweetie, May 25th, 2023

The third installment of Ghost’s sequence of covers EPs known as Phantomime sees a lot of similar energy that was presented on Popestar without the running pop theme as well as any original cuts. Still, a majority of this does focus on that pop backbone save for the outlier of an Iron Maiden song, adding very little in the realm of surprises outside of it. This means that, as you guessed, all five tracks were made into upbeat tunes that gloss on lots of studio clarity, hard rock distortions, and sugary melodies from Tobias Forge.

Unfortunately, even several listens of what’s meant to be a catchy formula really isn’t sticking at all. Television’s “See No Evil” as well as The Stranglers’ “Hanging On” both yield extremely predictable results, sprucing up tunes that were serviceable enough on their own into something that adds little life, relying solely on that very upbeat feeling, and not much else. I must give credit to this rendition of Genesis’s “Jesus He Knows Me” for at least avoiding the boring template that made up the other two, however it’s still only good because of how catchy it is. The jarring choice of covering “Phantom Of The Opera” was at least interesting, and props for making it fit the rest of the songs nicely thanks to the synth layers, cleaner vocal delivery, and operatic backdrop, but it’s still more or less just pumping a primal monster tune with sugar. We close off with a shot at Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” likely my favorite song here. I don’t know the original rendition, but it’s more interesting than anything else largely due to its deep hums that carry the tune into a cannon-fire of a chorus. If there’s one song that’s truly worth seeking out, it’s this.

To put it bluntly, I see Phantomime the way a lot of metalheads see Ghost as a whole. I heavily disagree with that general assessment of the band, since I adore much of their original material. But I can’t say a lot of purpose in this round of covers is really visible, no matter how many times I revisit it. Perhaps in a few years I’ll look back and appreciate the experiment for what it was, like I did with some songs on Popestar that didn’t work for me right away, but ultimately it feels like quasi-metal rewrites of songs that have very basic flavors and hold almost no memorability. Calling this bad would be inaccurate, but I’ll be hard pressed to find a reason to revisit it for a while. If You Have Ghost, you have everything. If you have this, you have nothing.