Acoustic Sounds






Label: Loma Vista Recordings

Produced By: Rich Costey

Engineered By: Martin Eriksson Sandmark and Jeff Citron, assisted by Matt Hall

Mixed By: Rich Costey, assisted by Jeff Citron

Mastered By: Ted Jensen (Sterling Sound)

Lacquers Cut By: Joe Nino-Hernes (Sterling Sound)

By: Dylan Peggin

June 1st, 2023



Ghost Adds Some Flavor To Their Phantomime

Sweden’s theatrical metalheads provide some fun from covering Iron Maiden to Tina Turner

Ghost is a band you can hardly run away from. Tobias Forge, who assumes the role of frontman Papa Emeritus IV backed by a revolving door of anonymous musicians known as Nameless Ghouls, has brought an element of theatricality back into the music world that can be traced to older acts such as KISS and Alice Cooper. With a schtick that serves as a Satanic parody of Catholicism it's one that could be seen as either sacrilege to the superstitious or tongue-in-cheek to the light-at-heart. Regardless, in recent years it has led the way for them to fill up arenas, have songs go viral on TikTok and obtain a much bigger fanbase.

A part of the fun in Ghost’s evolution lies in their album cycles. Various releases in the form of non-album singles and EPs of cover songs are sprinkled in between full length albums, the most recent being 2022’s Impera. During the interim, Ghost has re-emerged with Phantomime, another fun collection of covers ranging genres and artists that one would never think to put together under the same umbrella. 

Phantomime is off to the races with a raucous rendition of Television’s “See No Evil,” a fitting tribute to the recently departed Tom Verlaine. The lyrics embrace the sentiment of executing life with unapologetic honesty, which is a parallel that can be seen in how Ghost carries out their image. Their rendition is faithful to the original arrangement with more crunching guitars, which provide more of a harder edge.

The first taste the public received of this EP was in the form of Ghost’s rendition of the later era Genesis track “Jesus He Knows Me.” Given the satirical twist of televangelism within the song’s lyrics, it absolutely fits well within the Ghost mold. The progressive pop stylings of the original make way for a more bombastic arrangement with heavy palm-muted guitar riffs and Queen-esque harmonies. 

A distorted Hammond organ makes way for the cover of the Stranglers’ “Hanging Around.” While the post-punk sounding original version has an overall dry sound, here there is a bit more muscle brought forward with an organ part reminiscent of Deep Purple’s Jon Lord and walls of distorted guitars. A simple mention of Christ in the chorus (“he’s alright in the city because he’s high above the ground, he’s just hanging around”) makes it an automatic contender for Ghost to add their twist on.

While it was once stated that Ghost would never dare to cover a song by any band that resided in the metal genre, they have rescinded their word with a stellar rendition of Iron Maiden’s “Phantom of the Opera.” Ghost gets right to the point with no extra frills or liberties, remaining true to the original arrangement. The sense of drama, theatricality and shifts in the composition alone make it well suited for the band to have a crack at covering.

The final track of the EP is one of the more transformative renditions that completely distances itself from the original, that being Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” While Tina’s version sounds very of the time with spatial synthesizers and programmed percussion, here the electric power chords in the chorus give the song even more of an anthemic & majestic feel. However, there is still a flare of 80s in Ghost’s version with a driving percussive synth bass part that carries the verses out.

If Ghost goes to the extremes of providing a nod to those they cover, the same can be said about their choice of artwork. Most of their album sleeves and merchandise pay homage to cult films, such as Salem’s Lot, Amadeus and Metropolis. Between the album cover of Impera and some of the recent press photos, Ghost has been referencing occultist Allister Crowley. The cover of Phantomime references a photo of Crowley in an Egyptian pharaoh sarcophagus pose. To hardcore music enthusiasts and my eyes, the cover could also be seen as a reference to Freddie Mercury’s pose on Queen’s second album, which in turn was a tribute to German actress Marlene Dietrich. The record comes housed in a printed inner sleeve with live shots of Papa Emeritus IV and the Nameless Ghouls, which serves as a simple yet bold reminder of how well Ghost has used their image and theatrics within the live setting.

Ghost In a world where most metal releases don’t translate well on vinyl due to the production & mastering, Ghost tends to be spared from the shortcomings. Their albums are well recorded and translate well on vinyl. This time around, Phantomime loosely breaks the chain. While the bottom end is well emphasized and the stereo spectrum is utilized to its fullest capacity, the problems lie in both the higher frequencies and sections where the mix is “busy.” There is an extra bit of shrill in the cymbal hits that sound a bit unnatural. During the choruses of songs like “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and “Jesus He Knows Me,” there’s so much going on that I felt some of the mix components were lost in the listening experience. This is in no part a reflection of Joe Nino-Herne’s superb mastering skills, but rather how the EP was recorded. This can fall under the misuse of dynamic compression during production and the unfortunate circumstance of the final mix being brickwalled. It shows that there is a true science when it comes to recording in the digital realm and translating it onto an analog medium. 

Despite my mixed feelings about the sound quality, Memphis Record Pressing, a subsidiary of Czech Republic’s GZ Vinyl, did a decent job pressing this record with no warps and visual defects. My reference copy, the indie exclusive tan version, had a little bit of surface noise. This is perhaps down to some of the translucent additives in the vinyl mixture. The surface noise will likely end up varying depending upon which variant you get, whether it's standard black or any of the colored variants available from various instore and online retailers.

There is always an element of curiosity and excitement when Ghost covers other artist’s material. Given the artists and genres they have explored on Phantomine, the pallet is as wide as it can be. This EP will suffice nicely before the next full length emerges in the near future.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: LVR03263

Pressing Plant: Memphis Record Pressing (MRP)


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Single LP


  • 2023-06-01 03:25:28 PM

    otaku wrote:

    I bought this on impulse from Angry Mom Records in Ithaca NY. Worth it just for the album art, but music is enjoyable also.

    • 2023-06-01 04:53:21 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      I miss my time in Ithaca.....

      • 2023-06-01 11:46:02 PM

        Anton wrote:

        I had you pegged more likely to have spent time in Attica.


        • 2023-06-03 12:10:47 AM

          Michael Fremer wrote:

          Hahaha! Cornell not Attica grad