Ghost
Phantomime EP

I reviewed Ghost’s several albums and I thought Impera was incredible.  The band has always had a penchant for doing cover songs and really is quite good at it.  Whereas many bands will like to do exact covers of the original song I appreciate when a band takes the time to make it their own and puts their own original stamp on it.  This is what Ghost does and that is why their covers, spanning a wide variety of various genres, make them one of the best bands doing covers.

Not even a year removed from Impera Ghost has released Phantomime, a five-song ep with an eclectic variety of cover songs.  Let’s shoot right to the last song, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” (Tina Turner cover).  This song was in the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome movie, one of Tina’s best songs, and especially since this music icon has recently passed on, RIP, makes this cover all the more special.  Starting with a nice guitar riff to accompany the rest of the music, Papa’s vocals sound a little washed out and the keyboards sound excellent as it transports us to the 80’s.  When the bombastic chorus comes in, it makes me realize – Ghost is going to play this cover song live, at some point.  I’ve seen them live, several times, and I know when bands usually hit the main lights on key points in a song.  Once the chorus erupts I can imagine all the white lights lighting up on each of those main chorus points.  It would light up the place magnificently.  If no one in the world knew Tina Turner had originally written this, we fans would have assumed this was an original Ghost song – this cover is excellent.

“Jesus He Knows Me” (Genesis cover), is also one of the best Genesis songs, and Ghost again makes it their own.  The song gallops at a brisk pace and the guitar riffing, transforms this song into a metal tune.  The band should share this song with Phil Collins, sooner rather than later.  The rock icon has been quite sick and I hope he pulls through.  The lyrics also fall in line with Ghost’s imagery as well, to an extent.  The original lyrics were written about how society uses the imagery of Jesus to plaster on everything from television to billboards to magazines all to make a quick buck and this is ripe for the picking for Ghost, who have written many satanic lyrics, however Ghost have shown in the years, their tongue-and-cheek, sarcastic side when taking a stab at religion.  Such an excellent rendition.

There are other covers on this, but I want to hone in on arguably one of the best Iron Maiden songs the band has ever written, “Phantom of the Opera”, from the band’s 1980 self-titled legendary album.  Maiden are my favorite metal band, of all time, Black Sabbath, being a close second.  Therefore how was I going to fair rating this cover, because I knew I was going to be tough on this song, if the cover blew chunks.  Original Maiden singer, Paul Di’Anno, even took to social media blasting the piss out of the cover.  He stated the song had no heart and that he hated the cover.  I love Di’Anno’s vocals on the first two Maiden albums.  For that band’s era and what his vocals brought to metal, was pretty frickin’ amazing; however Paul has had his bouts with serious health issues for decades and seems to always live in the past.  He has had negative rants before, and part of this attitude, from what I have read about earlier Maiden is in fact one of the reasons the band moved on from him after the second album. At the end of the day at least we can say is the dude is consistent!  Well Di’Anno, I will have to disagree with you kind sir, because this cover song is massive and owns!

The original sounding moments of the classic opening guitar riff and melodies are all there and then adding of the aria’s of the backing vocals give this song an epic build-up.  Papa sounds great and he sounds like Papa, he is not trying to emulate Di’Anno.  After the chorus the incoming keyboards add that extra layer of excellence.  The bass guitar is also played extraordinarily well in order to capture the Harris signature plucking.  The ethereal guitar solo at the three-minute mark captures the original to the proverbial T, as does the bass solo afterward and guitar melodies.  The heavier section, with the riff, towards the song’s end, is scaled back a bit in order to usher in a more atmospheric approach.  It works well.  Now does this song best the original Maiden classic?  Of course not, in many ways not even close, because the original song is more aggressive and of course it’s frickin’ Iron Maiden mofos.  But Ghost injects many of their own signature elements, and creating a song, that sounds like they wrote it for one of their albums.  The band obviously loves Maiden, or else they would not have covered it, and for me Ghost crafted this cover with much care and class!

Phantomime is not essential, but for me, a collector of all their material, it is.  This is a fun ep which transports us to the sounds of various 70’s / 80’s musical genres and I enjoy the eclectic nature of this release.  This is quite a lot of fun!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
July 21st, 2023

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