In recent years, Ghost have grown to dominate the metal scene, with their signature image and anonymity generating intrigue and mystery. With a majority of their success coming from their incredible live performances, the band are seen to be giving a new lease of life to the live music scene.
It is impossible to remain oblivious to the growing number of musicians whose image is firmly placed behind a mask. Artists such as Mushroomhead, Daft Punk and Slipknot have all become famed upon using a disguise alongside their music but none have taken this as far as the band, Ghost.
Captivating audiences since 2010 with their ambiguous, mirage-esque image, the band Ghost have always adopted anonymity and theatricality as central themes. For instance, the band has been known to feature many household-name musicians in their lineup under the disguise of ‘The Nameless Ghouls’. Unbeknownst to fans, world-renowned frontman of Foo Fighters and Nirvana drummer, Dave Grohl has played gigs with the band in this guise on numerous occasions, only to be revealed following the concert.
Now, with more and more musicians insisting that their image demands just as much recognition as the music itself, we have to ask: is this merely a way to stand out from the crowd, or is it related to the politics of the music scene?
Retaliation Against Industry Pressures?
Although to some it may seem like a cheap gimmick to provoke attention, incorporating anonymity into music may actually be used to achieve the opposite. Rather than becoming famed merely on personality, the decision to become ‘faceless’ arguably forces listeners to acknowledge the talent behind the music, instead of the face at the forefront.
Could this all be part of an active retaliation of many musicians against the rise of streaming? With the music scene becoming increasingly reliant on downloads, appearance and popularity, the introduction of nameless and dehumanised musicians may be seen to rebel against an image-orientated industry and draw attention back to the music itself.
Whilst being an industry overrun with artists looking to be the next chart-sensation, there is no question regarding the lack of originality in today’s music scene. Yet, with musicians now sporting distinctive, un-personified image, one does not have to look far to see which artists break the mould and stand out from the competition by refusing to conform.
Creating a Live Spectacle
Globally filling prestigious venues including London’s Royal Albert Hall, Ghost demonstrate how an image founded upon anonymity could revive the intrigue of live performance, the main source of income for musicians since the emergence of online streaming.
Refusing to hold back in their live performances, Ghost are giving Iron Maiden competition for the most impressive, exaggerated concert in the scene. From the outlandish charisma brought by the artists themselves, to the numerous outfit changes of the renowned frontman, a spectacle is created for all of those fortunate enough to attend.
A refreshing break from the black-tee-paired-with-black-jeans image of nearly every other band on the scene, the dedication Ghost place into their live performances creates an atmosphere of pure energy. With such an atmosphere being created, the band insist that you need to see them live in order to fully appreciate their music- providing something that cannot be conveyed through audio alone.
Their Influence on the Scene
The artists using disguise and theatricality are undoubtedly giving a new lease of life to the experience of a live performance and none have demonstrated this more elegantly than Ghost. Now, something more than merely a series of live renditions of the songs, the mystery and spectacle created by these musicians has finally turned music back into an experience worth funding.
Through Ghost placing such emphasis on image and gathering intrigue, they have come to dominate the metal scene. Their use of anonymity not only generates mystery, but also forces listeners to admire the music rather than simply idolising the people behind it.
Refusing to conform to expectations from their genre, Ghost have revived the art of live performance and rewritten the connection between musicians and fans- giving the industry back the much-needed sense of individuality it sorely lacked.