New Ghost EP Phantomime is exactly what covers should sound like

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Ghost produced another EP of covers and it is exactly as it should be: Fun, well-played, and pays homage to the original versions. Phantomime is a must-listen. Also, maybe I should add a bit of a note here.

I am a huge Ghost fan. That said, I can also remain objective. I mean, Tobias Forge and his mates (OK, it's mostly just Forge in the studio along with maybe some drum help and assistance from random nameless ghouls, but Forge plays the guitar on albums that he rarely does in concert), create some of the best songs even though they are often shouted down for not being "metal" enough. Seriously, good music is good music and bad is well...not good.

Forge is not afraid to tiptoe the line between bombastic and poppy. He is Swedish after all, and those people seem to create a music all their own. He also knows how to choose the right ghoul to play the right part. For instance, Opeth's Fredrik Akesson playing a bunch of lead guitar parts on Ghost's album Impera was near-genius. Forge proved he doesn't have to be The Man all the time; He just wants to make great sounds.

New Ghost EP Phantomime is perfect in the way you need

What makes Phantomime so fun, just like 2016's Popestar (save for the original and glorious "Square Hammer"), is that while Forge is clearly doing covers, he also seemingly loves the songs being played and wants to do them justice while also offering his own bent on them. In other words, exactly what a good artist should do. Ghost isn't a cover band, but they also don't mind borrowing a song or two and remaking them into their own image. Let's look at the track listing for Phantomime.

Track 1: "See No Evil" - Original by Television

I assume when Forge thinks about which songs he wants to take and produce and put onto an EP of covers, he wants the creations to be simply highly entertaining, but he also wants to have fun recording them. If this isn't the case for "See No Evil" specifically then I am way off base because "See No Evil" may be the purest joy you'll ever hear from a band doing a cover. Of course, the orginal isn't bad, either, but Ghost remakes the song a bit in their own image.

It's louder and fuller than the original and with a guitar solo unlike anything the original has. Of the songs on Phantomime, this may be the closest Ghost comes to just saying, "I like this song, but I can make it better." And they do.

Track 2: "Jesus He Knows Me" - Original by Genesis

This was the first release of the EP. There is also a video, with the band not appearing in the video, that goes along with the cover. It is easy to see that Forge and company covered this song, but it's more difficult to remember that Phil Collins and company wrote the song. In fact, the Ghost cover is so good that it makes the original even more respectful.

The Ghost version is heavier, of course, and sounds better, but that could just be modern recording. Still, it is almost like Collins could have written the song for Forge. I can't imagine Collins minding what Forge did with the song either, and making it into a more heavy metal version with a much more aggressive lead guitar.

Track 3: "Hanging Around" - Original by The Stranglers

The song starts with a keyboard sound that might make you think Ghost is doing a cover of some late 1960s California tune, but that quickly changes. This song stands out from the original due to the fullness of the production but also the feel that Forge still wants to keep this a straightforward rocker. This may not be your favorite one off the EP, but it's worth multiple listens.

Track 4: "Phantom of the Opera" - Original by Iron Maiden

A lot of bands might have chosen to cover this Maiden song and been embarrassed. But Ghost already proved they could cover a heavyweight when they did Metallica's "Enter Sandman" for Metallica's Blacklist experiment and went note for note with James Hetfield and the boys. But Forge doesn't try to do much more than add a Ghost feel to "Phantom" and it works perfectly.

This song also akins to something that Ghost sounds like in concert. The song is crisp, loud, and, most importantly, enjoyable. Love Maiden? You'll like this song. Love Ghost? If someone told you this song was a Forge original you might be easily fooled since it is so well produced and played.

Track 5: "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" - Original by Tina Turner

I was never a huge fan of the original as it just seemed to be so full of itself with a big chorus and 1980s production. But there is no denying it almost forces you to sign along with it. Plus, Tina Turner has a great voice.

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So I kind of wondered how Forge might do the vocals as he doesn't sing like Turner (though if anyone doubts Forge can actually sing, just wait until the last third of the song and you'll likely change your mind), and he covers it perfectly because he doesn't try to do anything else but be himself. Of course, the Ghost cover is heavier than the original (and better, in my opinion) and better with more modern production, but the bombastic chorus is kept in place. In other words, whatever Ghost wants to cover they can and you will likely have fun listening.