Inside Ghost's first US show of 2022: new songs, new look, new era

Ghost Nameless Ghouls 2022
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Sweden's satanic majesties Ghost have unveiled a whole new stage show and aesthetic for the start of their US tour with Danish rockers Volbeat. On January 25th the band played their first full show in almost two years when they kicked off their tour at Reno Event Centre, marking also the first full performance from Papa Emeritus IV since the former Cardinal Copia was annointed in Mexico City on March 3rd 2020 after the on-stage 'death' of Papa Nihil (video below). 

So what has Papa been up to in the 693 days since we last saw him? Well, a whole lot of overhauling, it seems. With this show giving us our first proper look at the new era of Ghost, we thought it high time to look at what we know about Impera so far...

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The new song 'Kaisarion' is EPIC

Ghost kicked off the new era with a completely new song from their upcoming album Impera. Titled Kaisarion, the song is exactly the kind of ludicrous, over-the-top genius we desperately needed from Ghost after the past couple of years, complete with a Halford-worthy scream that has us thrusting our fists at the sky just thinking about it. 

Sure, Prequelle had us grinning ear-to-ear at times (goddamn, we're going to miss the sax solo of Miasma) but the album's plague themes hit just a little too close to home these days, so having something utterly joyous to kick off the show feels like exactly the right kind of move. Plus, it feels like Ghost's brand of anthemic arena metal is now drawing from the likes of Boston, Journey and Bon Jovi, which might piss off the purists who wish the band sounded more like Entombed but is absolutely perfect for those of us who are out to have a great time with riffs, sing-alongs and Satan. 

Things got a little Spinal Tap

As the saying goes, "twice the pride double the fall". Ghost have been playing to massive crowds for a good while now, but that doesn't mean there aren't teething problems after two years without gigs. The band's epic reveal at the climax of the Kaisarion intro didn't quite go to plan when the curtain covering the stage never shifted (which, unless Ghost are going Gorillaz, seems like a slight problem when you've set up a massive visual extravaganza). 

Still, if you can't laugh...

But fans were happy to just see the band again

Curtain snafu aside, Ghost marked the epoch of a new era with all the visual flair fans have come to expect. The stage dressing looks largely the same as it did on A Tour Named Death, evoking a massive cathedral (which, considering the band's religious overtones makes perfect sense). That doesn't mean the band didn't have a whole new aesthetic to show off, however.

New album, new look

They might not have ditched the corpsepaint and masks, but there's no denying Ghost are looking decidedly different for this new era. Papa seems to be going through more costume changes than Cher and the new-look Nameless Ghouls are utterly terrifying in their gasmasks and jackboots, looking like villains straight out of GI Joe. We kinda love it, though... 

Some internet sleuths already spotted the new-look Nameless Ghouls 

As it turns out, we'd already been teased with the new-look Nameless Ghouls when the band put out promo pics for Papa Emeritus IV. While some of us were delighted to see the new and shiny Papa, some clever souls spotted the Nameless Ghouls standing menacingly in the background. Good sleuthing, that.

People love Papa's new look

Cardinal Copia wasn't exactly a slouch when it came to outfits on the Prequelle run, but coming after the dandy Papa Emeritus III it was hard not to feel like he couldn't quite match his svelte predecessor. It turns out it may just have been a lack of wardrobe access, however as the new-look Papa Emeritus IV is setting a whole new bar for fiendish flair. 

But are divided on the new-look Nameless Ghouls

As exciting as it is to have a whole new era of Ghost to dive into, its also inevitable that some fans will pine for the band's classic look. The Nameless Ghouls in particular have split opinion, which isn't entirely surprising considering some fans used to love cosplaying as the vital cogs in Ghost's machine. The unspoken bright-side that everyone seems to miss is that gasmasks are surely the perfect accessory for ensuring no tour dates get pulled due to the pandemic...

Some love it...

Others not so much

Ghost's set is positively rammed with bangers

After kicking things off with a brand new tune, Ghost wasted absolutely no time in getting stuck into the kind of floor-filling, crowd-filling anthems that have made them into a headline sensation. With four albums already out and a fifth on the way (as well as a smattering of EPs and 7" singles) it was inevitable that they would need to tighten the set up some, but by this point they've amassed such an arsenal of arena-worthy songs that it's almost ridiculous. Rats, From The Pinnacle To The Pit, Mary On A Cross, Cirice... All in a row! We're honestly worried for our voices when the band come to the UK, particularly when the likes of Kiss The Go Goat and Square Hammer pop up. 

Hunter's Moon is already sounding like a Ghost classic

Though we didn't know it back in September, Hunter's Moon turned out to be the first song from Impera proffered for our listening pleasure. At the time, the song was released as a stand-alone with no album release info offered, tied to the release of last year's horror sequel Halloween Kills. As utterly perfect as it was hearing the song in the cinema playing out over the closing credits (after a healthy dose of splatter, no less), its appearance in the setlist (sandwiched between Cirice and Faith) cements the fact that Hunter's Moon is a straight-up banger. More of this on the album, please. 

No sign of Call Me Little Sunshine, though

It's only been a week since Ghost released Call Me Little Sunshine and announced the release date of their fifth album, but we're already desperate to hear it. If Hunter's Moon is a stylish, deadly floor-filler in the vein of the band's Prequelle material, Call Me Little Sunshine dials the clock back just a little further to percussive riffing of Meliora. Unfortunately the song didn't make an appearance on the first show of the tour, but with plenty more shows to come (and more time to drill the song into our brains) there's still hope we'll get it further down the road. 

Ghost can't resist a great cover

Ghost have never been a band afraid to journey through cover country, tackling the likes of Roky Erickson, ABBA and The Beatles over the years. Hell, the first appearance of Papa Emeritus IV after his inauguration was during a televised stream by  fellow Swedish rockers The Hellacopters, where he came out to sing a rendition of the Rolling Stones' Sympathy For The Devil. The new set featured a cover more directly in metal territory, however - Ghost's own rendition of Enter Sandman, as featured on last year's Metallica Blacklist covers collection. Kicking off their encore it makes sense Ghost would want something massive, and it doesn't come much bigger than Metallica.

Nine is the magic number

While we knew Ghost's congregation seemed to balloon with each new album, we weren't quite prepared for the clergy to fill out too. We counted no less than nine members of the band on-stage when the band took their final bow, meaning Ghost now have (at least) as many members as Slipknot. God forbid the two bands ever tour together; those poor, poor caterers. 

When the Imperatour hits Europe, its going to be special

With their US co-headline tour taking them right up to March 3, Ghost will have about a month to recuperate before jumping right back into the fire with a massive European and UK arena tour. By that time, Impera will be on shelves and, if current singles are anything to go by, lodged in brains, promising some utterly mammoth sing-alongs. See you down the front.  

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Impera is due March 11 via Loma Vista. 

Ghost's US tour resumes today (January 27), for the full list of tour dates visit the band's official website, the band's UK tour kicks off April 9 at Manchester's AO Arena

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.