Nuns and burly men in biker jackets mingling in the hall, members of the undead chatting to Leatherface in the toilets. The Royal Albert Hall has seen a lot, but probably not this. In a venue where you can imagine the real things wandering the aisles late at night, Swedish rockers Ghost came grasping for everybody’s souls. As perennial mood piece ‘Miserere Mei, Deus’ fades into Prequelle opener ‘Ashes’, the creepy factor is sky high as the haunting sounds of a child singing ‘Ring o’ Roses’ sweep and scurry into the highest beams of the room.
With the Nameless Ghouls now numbering seven, the power of the opening ‘Rats’ is formidable. Cardinal Copia, the new leader following the ‘death’ of Papa Emeritus stalks the stage throughout, complete with the discomforting ability to disappear from one side of the stage only to appear on the other moments later. What follows over the next couple of hours is a barrage of riffs and hits that confirm Ghost as worthy contenders for the dark throne of metal bands. Never quite as heavy as their image suggests, much of the set sits squarely in the world of ‘pop metal’. As fat as the riffs may be, they possess an ability to craft them into melodious hooks that makes them stand apart as much as the costumes. The thrill of seeing three of the Ghouls in a tight knot, facing each other, thrashing out riffs, remains a glorious one and it would take a hard soul to not give in to it.