Kindred spirits: Mercyful Fate, Blue Oyster Cult
Show: Sunday at Sonar as part of Maryland Deathfest. Show starts at 1 p.m. 410-783-7888. www.sonarbaltimore.com. $47 (Sunday only) or $132 (three-day pass).
Swedish band Ghost straddles the line between metal and rock: While its riffs and instrumentation are heavy, its clean vocal melodies are reminiscent of such classic rock bands as Blue Oyster Cult. That combination makes Ghost’s debut, “Opus Eponymous,” a surprisingly catchy listen that has garnered the band a lot of attention, most notably on Darkthrone drummer Fenriz’s influential “Band of the Week” blog.
The band sticks to lyrical themes familiar to the metal world. The first word on the album is a hollered “Lucifer” on the rumbling “Con Clavi Con Dio.” The only tune that doesn’t dwell on the king of the underworld, “Elizabeth,” touches on an even darker subject, the bloody Elizabeth Bathory, but the song’s swirling choruses sound as breezy and hummable as any pop song.
That juxtaposition between darkness and light permeates even the instrumental tracks. The opening number, “Deus Culpa,” features a droning organ, while the spiking keyboard melodies on “Genesis” contrast with the thundering rhythm section below. But it’s mostly the vocals that give Ghost its unique sound. The doomy “Prime Mover” finds the band at its sultriest, with its mysterious singer murmuring a melody that is as ethereal as it is enticing.