“Square Hammer” by Ghost

The labels behind “Square Hammer” – Rise Above Records, Loma Vista Records and Spinefarm Records – released it on 12 September 2016 as the opening track of Ghost’s EP “Popestar” and also as the only single from that project. 

This piece, in a sense, performed better than the album at large. For instance, it proceeded to top Billboard’s US Mainstream Rock chart. And whereas the EP has yet, if ever, to garner any certifications, this track on its own has managed to go gold in Canada, Norway and in the United States. Or put otherwise, it hit just as the act’s frontman – Tobias Forge, who wrote “Square Hammer” – intended it to.

Klas Åhlund, who co-produced this track, isn’t a part of the band as far as we know, as outside of Forge the other active members of Ghost are counted as “Nameless Ghouls”. But he has been heavily involved in their catalog throughout the years. 

The other producer of this track, who has also worked with Ghost extensively, is Tom Dalgety. 

Meanwhile, the music video to “Square Hammer” was directed by Zav Deans.

Square Hammer

The Lyrics of “Square Hammer”

Songs of this nature are difficult to conclusively decipher. For starters, the titular “square hammer” and more specifically the symbolism of “the square” itself are ideas derived from Freemasonry. 

Said organization, as you probably already know, is a secret society, perhaps the most-pervasive in the Western world. So we can take it that even though there are countless studies of this organization available, still the public at large, such as ourselves, would not be privy to the full meanings of their symbols, since we aren’t ourselves degreed initiates.

What has also been ascertained by Ghost purists is that this song has something to do with the Apocalypse, i.e. the rise of the Antichrist, a satanic figure of biblical prophecy who will rule the Earth before the very end.  

That acknowledgement is in part based on a number of the band’s previous tracks dealing with such a topic. But as for the lyrics themselves, they don’t appear to directly go there.

Our Interpretation

So with all of that in mind, we are compelled to take some liberties, if you will, with this interpretation.  Ghost is known to utilize, shall we say Luciferian imagery in their artistry, such as the upside-down cross found in the band’s logo. 

But as we have alluded to in the past, that may be a misdirection. In fact it has been suggested that what this song actually centers on isn’t, as some have speculated, committing to the devil but rather failing to promptly do so to God.

For instance, it has been acceptably postulated that in the second verse Papa Emeritus, aka Tobias Forge, is alluding to the likes of those who never make any type of spiritually-minded sacrifices but still expect “entrance to the shrine”, i.e. salvation, nonetheless. 

And as for the first verse, what it seems to be relatedly pointing to is the possibility or prophecy that the end can erupt at any time, i.e. when people are least aware or even slumbering.

Then in the chorus, the vocalist questions whether or not the listener is “square” and “ready to swear… before the devil”. The term “square”, as generally understood and inspired by the Freemasons and even older societies, according to one explanation, is ‘associated with honesty, high morality and virtue’ – or colloquially put being “on the level”, as Tobias puts it.   

“Are you on the square? Are you on the level?”

The singer then proceeds to ask:

Are you ready to swear right here, right now before the devil?
That you’re on the square? That you’re on the level?”

So all lyrics and understandings considered, it appears what the vocalist is actually asking, underneath all of the metaphors, symbols and misdirections, is whether or not a person is upright enough to pledge allegiance to God in the face of the Antichrist.

In other words, as prophesied, during the reign of the latter true believers of the former will be persecuted or even executed by the latter. The Antichrist, as characterized, is a global dictator who will require everyone to pledge direct allegiance to him, as if he is god. 

So what Ghost basically appears to be doing is questioning the spiritual fortitude of the audience. Or concluded otherwise, those of us who are flimsy from a religious/spiritual standpoint shouldn’t expect that when sh*t hits the fan, we’re going to be able to resist the ultimate temptation or suddenly be granted access to the pearly gates.

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