uDiscover Music

  • Latest News

‘White Light/White Heat’: How The Velvet Underground Foretold The Future

‘the stone poneys’: the early folk-rock adventures of linda ronstadt, the beatles’ rooftop concert: behind the group’s final public performance, a face we’ll never forget: british pop-rock figurehead steve marriott, ‘not too late’: three-time winner norah jones’ daring triumph, get back: the beatles’ rooftop performance, mod’s artful dodger: steve marriott’s legacy is alive and well, jordan rakei announces new album ‘the loop,’ shares ‘freedom’, u2 to make grammy performance from the sphere in las vegas, coi leray drops mike will made-it-produced ‘wanna come thru’, elton john to release ‘farewell yellow brick road’ tour memoir, late inxs manager chris ‘cm’ murphy honored for australia day, ‘queen rock montreal’ imax film to receive extended theatrical run, kacey musgraves, daniel caesar, jessie reyez, and more set for ‘bob marley: one love’ ep, ghost facts: 10 things you need to know about the high priests of swedish metal.

Are they Nameless Ghouls? Who is the real Papa Emeritus? Ghost are perfect enigmas. Here are ten facts you need to know about Sweden’s heavy metal icons.

Published on

Ghost Prequelle 2019 Press shot 2 1000 CREDIT Mikael Eriksson

Image goes hand in hand with music, whether it’s the skinny black jeans and white hi-tops of thrash metal in the 80s, the flannel and combats of grunge in the 90s, or the comic-book space demons of KISS . Few bands today, however, push the envelope to the point where their theatrics are as important as their music. Ghost is a rare exception. Their very existence comes with a concept, backstory, and elaborate visuals, with these embellishments being as inherent to the band’s performances as guitars or drums. Here, then, are ten facts that uncover the mystery behind the Swedish heavy metal band Ghost.

Listen to the best of Ghost on Apple Music and Spotify .

The Satanic cult

Religious imagery and satanism have forever been intertwined with heavy metal music ; genre pioneers Black Sabbath were masters of marrying the two. But Ghost takes the construct to the next level. Their stage set during live concerts is dressed as a church. The idea is to present music as salvation, with the live show playing the role of a religious service. Then are the musicians: fronted by a satanic priest-like figure in papal regalia who possesses a voice with an unexpectedly enticing charm and vulnerability, backed by a group of cardinals known as the “Nameless Ghouls.”

Best Bassists Of All Time: 55 Legendary Bass Players

‘dystopia’: how megadeth readied themselves for the apocalypse, ‘pyromania’: the explosive album that turned def leppard into superstars, ghost’s frontmen.

Ghost has so far appointed four frontmen. First was Papa Emeritus, who took on vocal duties for their debut album, Opus Eponymous , and its consequent tour. He was replaced in 2012 by Papa Emeritus II, for the Infestissumam cycle; in 2015, his younger brother, Papa Emeritus III, took over for the Meliora run. In September 2017, Papa Emeritus III was publicly ousted while performing in Gothenburg, Sweden, to be replaced by the significantly older Papa Emeritus 0 – later named Papa Nihil, an ancestor to all other Papas. However, Ghost’s new leader was named, in April 2018, as Cardinal Copia, an “apprentice” priest yet to earn his full Ghost regalia.

Ghost - Chapter Two: The Cardinal

Since the band’s inception, in 2006, Ghost has maintained a strictly anonymous existence. The various frontmen never gave interviews, instead press duties were handled by the Nameless Ghouls. These are likely to be Ghost mastermind Tobias Forge, who also portrayed each of the Papa characters and is currently serving as Cardinal Copia. Forge was forced to give up his identity in 2017 when former bandmates sued him over royalties. His backing band retain their anonymity and maintain their mystery at record store signings by stamping their ascribed alchemical symbols for fire, water, air, earth, and ether.

Ghost formed around one song

Prior to forming Ghost, Tobias Forge was in the death metal band Repugnant, and sleaze metal band Crashdïet. In 2006 he came up with a riff that he described as “probably the heaviest metal riff that has ever existed.” To accompany it, he penned a chorus that “haunted my dreams.” The song developed into “Stand By Him” from Ghost’s debut album, Opus Eponymous , but Forge knew that he couldn’t carry off such a dark sound with his clean-cut looks. Instead, he created the concept and characters of Ghost as a vehicle for his new musical project.

Forge’s brother died the day Ghost came alive

Further to “Stand By Him,” Forge penned the tracks “Prime Mover” and “Death Knell,” and in 2008 entered a recording studio with former Repugnant bandmate Gustaf Lindström to lay them down. Those songs were later posted onto MySpace on March 12, 2010 and would attract immediate attention from record labels and managers wanting to sign the group. Little did Forge know that, as he uploaded the songs, his brother, Sebastian, would succumb to heart disease later that day. Forge looked up to his brother, who was 13 years older, and introduced him to many of the artists that would later influence Ghost.

Wide-ranging influences

What you see is not necessarily what you get, musically speaking. Though Forge’s main influence was the black metal of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, you might be surprised to hear a far more prominent pop and AOR influence in Ghost’s music. Though genres as diverse as doom metal, hard rock, prog rock, arena rock, and psychedelic rock have been used to describe Ghost, their sound is rooted in black metal, with Forge adding that they are influenced by “everything ranging from classic rock to the extreme underground metal bands of the 80s to film scores to the grandeur of emotional harmonic music.”

The live band is not the same as the studio one

When the identity of Ghost’s various frontmen was revealed by way of the 2017 royalties dispute, Forge went on the record to describe exactly how he saw the band. He described Ghost as a solo project that utilized hired musicians to translate his work in the live arena. Forge often records all the instruments himself in the studio, calling in his favorite musicians where he feels they will be of good use. And since all touring members of Ghost have other bands anyway, Forge prefers to give them time off between tours so that they can tend to their other projects and come back fresh.

Dave Grohl was once a Nameless Ghoul

Though the identities of the Nameless Ghouls remain a mystery, members are very approachable to fans who hang around the backstage door after the show. However, those die-hards remain respectful to Ghost’s anonymity and any shameless selfies are kept away from social media, so speculation abounds as to who the other members might be. But it was confirmed in an interview with Jack Osbourne, for Fuse News , in August 2013, that Foo Fighters frontman and one-time Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl once donned the Nameless Ghouls costume to play with them live. He had also produced Ghost’s 2013 EP, If You Have Ghost .

Ghost - If You Have Ghosts (Roky Erickson Cover)

Banned in the USA

Ghost’s controversial image, lyrical themes, and artwork haven’t always worked in their favor. When they required a choir for the Infestissumam album, they were unable to find one in Nashville – where they were holed up in the studio – willing to commit the band’s lyrics to tape. Then, when it came to pressing the album, no US manufacturer was willing to take on the project due to the graphic nature of the artwork. In Ghost’s earlier days, too, no chain stores, TV shows or commercial radio stations would touch their music. Mainstream America seems to have warmed to them over the years: Ghost appeared on a Halloween-themed Late Show with Stephen Colbert in October 2015.

Ghost have won multiple awards

Further to their acceptance into mainstream culture, Ghost has won multiple awards in their Swedish homeland. The Grammis are the Swedish equivalent to the American Recording Academy’s Grammys, and Ghost won the award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album in three consecutive years, for 2014’s Infestissumam , the following year’s Meliora , and the 2016 EP Popestar . They also won a coveted Grammy for Best Metal Performance, for the Meliora track “Cirice,” in 2016, and earned further nominations for Prequelle as Best Rock Album and “Rats’ as Best Rock Song in 2019.

Ghost - Rats (Official Music Video)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

The Who - Quadrophenia 50th Anniversary

Every Member Of Ghost Explained

Tobias Forge green black

Ghost is not just a metal band — they are an entire phantasmagoria, haunted by the lore and rumors dreamed up by their lead singer and mastermind, Tobias Forge. 

Forge, who grew up in Linköping, Sweden, took on his brother's obsession with rock and amassed an enviable collection of metal magazines before he was 10 (via Los Angeles Times ). He got into the underground metal scene in his teens. He looks back at that time as having been deeply immersed in death metal and black metal, but those genres were hardly his only inspirations. As Total Guitar says, he was inspired by everything from Black Sabbath to Blue Oyster Cult and even ABBA (they are part of his Swedish heritage, after all).

Ghost started out with an inverse Pope who worshipped the devil and was often surrounded by his Nameless Ghouls. That Pope, Papa Emeritus I, was mysteriously killed off only to be replaced by his successor, Papa Emeritus II. The inevitable happened again: Forge (the only one behind those corpselike faces) buried the Papas for a while and performed as Cardinal Copia, who was eventually anointed as another Satanic Pope. But listen closely, because the lyrics are far from a musical black mass.

"The lyrics are not about God. They're about man," Forge told the Los Angeles Times. "We are, at the end of the day, an occult, pop, satanic sort of rock 'n' roll band meant to entertain a group of people who are already down with that stuff."

Papa Emeritus I (2010-2012)

Papa Emeritus I was the first demonic Pope character of Ghost who emerged with their premiere album "Opus Eponymous." It was the moment church went metal.

The skull-esque makeup, mitre, and robes adorned with upside-down crosses — which all the Papa iterations would wear in one form or another — were the brainchild of lead singer Tobias Forge. The Los Angeles Times observes that Forge had a different approach to occult metal as opposed to the expected chorus of screams and swears and explosive guitar riffs. He delivers the lyrics of a black sermon with a hypnotically melodic voice. Ghost first formed in 2006, and the release of "Opus Eponymous" in 2010 saw the emergence of the first of a line of anti-Popes blessing (or should it be damning?) the stage (via  Ghost Cult Magazine ).

The vestments of Papa Emeritus I are mostly black, crowned with a silver mitre and slashed with red panels glittering with the repeated Cross of Saint Peter. Watch Forge perform as Papa I singing "Death Knell"  at a 2011 concert, and it is clear he goes beyond just throwing on a costume to embodying the character — though the costume is a spectacle in itself. His hand motions appear to be leading a blasphemous mass as he walks solemnly across the stage.

Papa Emeritus II (2013-2015)

As "Opus Eponymous" gave way to the band's second album, "Infestissumam," Papa Emeritus I was overthrown by Papa Emeritus II. The successor to Emeritus I appeared with an even ghastlier face and more elaborate vestments that were almost completely black, with the only flashes of heavenly light coming from his silver mitre and ornamental inverted crosses. According to  Seattle Weekly , "Infestissumam" is an album devoted to the mythical birth of Satan. This disturbed some printers to the point that they actually refused to print the album art for the deluxe edition, which features — among other unholy things — a throwback to the 16th century in the form of a massive Renaissance orgy. It was because of this that the release ended up being delayed.

Forge was still anonymous at this point — as anonymous as the Nameless Ghouls who made up the rest of the band. In the middle of 2014, one of the Ghouls leaked the impending replacement of Papa Emeritus II to Louder  as the "Infestissumam" cycle came to a close and teased possible candidates for the Papacy. The Ghoul in question was referring only to the character and not Forge himself, but remember that Forge still cloaked himself in anonymity during this era. Deepening the mystery was the mention of the band considering candidates when the only ones to be considered were coming into being in Forge's imagination. Blabbermouth.net  gave away that Papa Emeritus II was last seen, appropriately enough, holding up a coffin lid on the cover of Sweden Rock Magazine.

Papa Emeritus III (2015-2017)

Papa Emeritus III is actually supposed to be the younger brother of Emeritus II, born only three months later — how that works out biologically remains a mystery (via  Louder ). This Papa's skull face is more abstract, and his papal robes are slashed with purple, a slightly less nightmarish departure from his predecessor. Metal Insider announced the transformation in 2015 when Ghost supposedly recruited Papa III for their latest album, "Meliora." When Forge still went unidentified, the band wanted fans to believe that each Papa was a new singer rather than a different persona their only lead singer conjured up.

Another Nameless Ghoul told Loudwire that the succession of Papas was not unlike different actors playing the same role. That same Ghoul went on to say that the imagery and music of Ghost are inextricably linked. The band had no visuals when they put out their first EP, but their ghoulish image soon followed. In another Loudwire interview, Forge himself admitted that he had a reason for killing off previous Papas. While they all succeeded, and he never had a favorite, he needed to keep his audience (and himself) engaged somehow. "If we just continued with Papa to Papa to Papa to Papa, that would grow very boring," he said.

The Papa characters vanished temporarily after Papa III's "death" (though they are briefly seen as corpses in the "Chapter Three: Back on the Road" video). In a move that almost seems sacrilegious, the next frontman of the band was a mere cardinal.

Papa Nihil (2017-2020 and 2022-present)

Also known as Papa Emeritus Zero, Papa Nihil is the most ancient Papa character, and he first appeared at a Gothenburg concert and announced, "The Middle Ages begin now."

Papa Nihil has the sunken face of a mummy and the gilded robes of an archangel. He always seems to be on his last breath, shambling onstage with a walking stick in one hand and an oxygen mask over his mouth, according to Kerrang . This Papa is a central character in Ghost's promo videos from his wheezing entrance in "Chapter One: New Blood," where he insists his bloodline goes back generations upon generations, to his remembered '60s youth in "Chapter Eight: Kiss the Go-Goat".

The videos unravel Nihil's backstory, revealing that he was once a rocker in '60s Los Angeles. As Kerrang also remembers, the band supposedly played their first gig — to promote their new EP "Seven Inches of Satanic Panic" (released by Galaxy Recordings) — at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go Bar right on the Sunset Strip. "Seven Inches" was Ghost's actual 2019 vinyl record, which his aging fingers revealed at the end of "Chapter Eight," as he claimed it was time to rerelease the EP that gave his band their big break in 1969. He appears on the cover as a psychedelic nightmare.

Inevitably, Papa Nihil went on to die like the others, but unlike them, he was eventually resurrected. Planet Radio named him as the band's official anointer and saxophonist.

Cardinal Copia (2018-2020)

The poster ghoul for the album "Prequelle" wasn't an undead Pope but a cardinal sans white face paint, though still rocking the look of blackened eye sockets. Cardinal Copia has no relation to the exalted bloodline of the Papas. This is something Papa Nihil keeps endlessly complaining about starting in "Chapter One: New Blood."

As Loudwire observed, the video "Chapter Seven: New World Redro" is an homage to Stephen King's "The Shining." Papa Nihil repeatedly types, "All work and no play makes Papa a bad dad," while Cardinal Copia navigates the clergy headquarters — already a shadowy mausoleum — on a tricycle and runs into the same sorts of terrors Danny Torrance encounters in the movie. Notably, there is a pair of twin girls who walk on either side of Papa Nihil in some of the videos. They channel those creepy twins that beckoned Danny to come play with them by having them materialize in front of the Cardinal and try to get him to join in a ghostly game of Red Rover before they suddenly vanish.

Forge started rumors that Cardinal Copia could survive for more than one tour, as he told Australia's "The Music" podcast (via Loudwire ) in 2019. "Right now, if everything goes according to plan, we're hoping for Cardi to be strong enough and cool enough to possibly do something that none of the previous ones have done, and that's basically to do two cycles," he explained.

Papa Emeritus IV (2020-present)

Turned out Cardinal Copia escaped the fate of death to be reanointed as Papa Emeritus IV. No wonder he inherited Cardinal Copia's eye makeup.

Though Tobias Forge previously said he wasn't going to create any more Papas, he morphed Cardinal Copia into one. The unholy anointing happened during a 2020 concert in Mexico City, which also marked Forge's 40th birthday (via Revolver ). The transformation is captured in Ghost's "Life Eternal" video, in which a clip of Cardinal Copia somberly walking down the hall of the Clergy's mausoleum headquarters gives way to legions of adoring fans with and without makeup and masks (and sometimes mitres). The video ends in an explosion of smoke and confetti that makes way for the newly mitred Papa.

Papa Emeritus IV is the flashiest Papa character yet, with jewel-encrusted vestments decked out in gold thread. He went from Cardinal to Pope to usher in the era of Ghost's latest album, "Impera", according to Distorted Sound Magazine . Kerrang announced an epic crossover when Iron Maiden made this Papa a character on their "Legacy of the Beast" mobile game. Forge himself is a Maiden fan — something he focused on in a 2018 interview with Loudwire  — and has even toured with them. "There's a lot of cross-pollination between Iron Maiden and Ghost nowadays," he told the outlet. "They have been extremely important for my whole reason wanting to be here and the reason why I've gotten to the place where I am now."

Omega (Martin Persner, 2010-2016)

Ever wonder who those spooky masked figures behind Papa (or Cardinal Copia, depending on the era) are? The Nameless Ghouls of Ghost had their identities set aside for more emphasis on the music and the mythos that Forge created for the Ghost universe. Ghouls have come and gone — but at least some have been revealed.

Guitarist Martin Persner was one iteration of the Nameless Ghoul known as Omega, according to Metal Injection . The former bandmate of Forge's — who played alongside him in Magna Carta Cartel pre-Ghost — was also the first Nameless Ghoul to reveal his human form. Initially, there was skepticism surrounding whether he was telling the truth since his face always remained hidden behind some sort of mask. But the rings he wears in the video announcing his parting ways with the band in 2017 are the same as those Omega wore up until then.

"I wrote some songs [for Ghost], but mostly it was [Tobias's] own songs, and I would come along, maybe, and say, 'Oh, it should be like...' and we would fight — as always," he told GoetiaMedia . Why Persner gave up Ghost may always be a mystery. He gave a cryptic response when asked the question, telling GoetiaMedia that he would rather not talk about it because it was too personal and only let on that "something horrible happened."  Loudwire found out that Persner resurrected Magna Carta Cartel and has been with them since his exit from Ghost.

Aether (Chris Catalyst)

Chris Catalyst is the face behind the Nameless Ghoul, otherwise known as Aether. The former Sisters of Mercy guitarist, who has also played with bands such as Terrorvision, Ugly Kid Joe, and Ginger Wildheart, recently unmasked himself on Twitter after Ghost's European Imperatour (via  Planet Radio ). "Amazing tour with our wonderful Ghost family," he tweeted. "I supposed that's that particular cat out of the bag."

The entire band is unmasked in the group photo he tweeted (along with the members of supporting acts Twin Temple and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats). If you really zoom in, you can see him flashing a peace sign over Tobias Forge's right shoulder. The face to the left of Forge is thought to be guitarist Per Eriksson, formerly of Katatonia and Bloodbath, whose Ghoul alias would be Fire if he really is one of these creatures. There has been no confession from him yet.

Some ex-Ghouls left the band with a lawsuit, as Blabbermouth reveals. In 2017, four of them sued Forge after being fired because they believed he was breaking a partnership agreement by withholding their share of the profits. It was this lawsuit that gave away Forge's identity after years of going incognito behind heavy stage makeup. Some of the Ghouls in question — Air and Water — eventually formed the cyberpunk band Priest.

When the Colorado Springs Independent (via Blabbermouth ) asked Forge whether he could have dodged that lawsuit by making the Ghouls' identities known, he said he believed so.

The Ghoulettes (2018-present)

The Nameless Ghouls were all male until 2016, when two Ghoulettes were introduced to the band. As MetalSucks remembers, the identity of the first Ghoulette slipped when a finger tattoo identified her as bassist Megan Thomas of all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band Lez Zeppelin, who had also been missing from concerts for no apparent reason. How long she stayed on with Ghost is unknown. As of 2018, the PRP noted that another Ghoulette had joined the lineup because of a telltale mask style.

The Ghouls started out as faceless and genderless beings in hooded black robes. When Papa Emeritus I swapped out his black vestments for ghastly white, the Ghouls did the same, with masks that covered their entire faces except for two eerie eye holes (via Planet Radio ). With the rise of Papa Emeritus II, they were back in black, with black leather masks covering all but their eyes. The Ghouls backing Papa Emeritus III wore mouthless horned demon face masks. It was the shinier versions of these chrome masks that appeared in 2018, which had female versions that featured longer molded "hair."

Ghoulettes now touring with Ghost are thought to be Cirrus and Sunshine — aka Laura Scarbourough of Diamond Kobra — and musical theatre performer Sophie Amelkin  (per  Planet Radio ). Their suspected identities haven't been officially confirmed or denied. Forge's inspiration for the current post-apocalyptic Ghoul masks were the (once again genderless) Tusken Raiders of "Star Wars," as he told Revolver . He was into the dead look.

Sister Imperator (2016-present)

Supposed nun Sister Imperator is the forbidden lover of Papa Nihil in Ghost lore — whatever vows these members of the clergy took evidently did not involve chastity. Sister is the only main character who does not play with the band. Her main role is to build mystery and anticipation in Ghost's music videos and series of promo videos, and according to Revolver , Forge uses her to do just that and still leave fans wondering at the end. She is first seen in "Chapter One: New Blood,"  when she announces to a curmudgeonly Papa Nihil that fresh blood is needed in the Clergy, and that fresh blood later turns out to be Cardinal Copia. Whether he actually belongs there is something they continue arguing about.

Nihil and Sister argue even through her lengthy stay in the hospital after nearly being crushed in a car accident in "Chapter Four: The Accident,"  in which the hearse she drives is sidetracked and goes up in flames. In "Chapter Five: The Call,"  a completely bandaged Sister makes her best attempt to dial him on a rotary phone, and they proceed to review the "Omen" movies. Alternative Press noticed that Sister was flaunting a stunningly new look after the bandages were removed.

The sexual tension between Nihil and Sister is obvious in the videos they appear in, coming to a climax in a Valentine's Day video clip . ( Metal Hammer  confirms suspicions that they are recreating the infamous "horny pottery" scene from the movie "Ghost.")

The Clergy (2010-present)

Shrouded in mystery, the Clergy are supposed to be the larger (fictional) cult from which Ghost spawned. They are never seen, but always heard on social media. Metal Hammer  describes them as beyond powerful but never actually appearing anywhere. While the Papas, Sister, and Cardinal Copia are regarded as clergy since they are supposed to be nuns and priests, they are still not the Clergy, who are supposedly some higher power. The Clergy surrounded Cardinal Copia when he was reanointed to become Papa Emeritus IV. They can also decide when it is time to kill off the latest Papa — or potentially morph him into something else.

The Clergy members are most visible through their announcements. Ghost's social media posts and YouTube videos often open with "[MESSAGE FROM THE CLERGY]" — and of course, an omnipotent power like them would use all caps to get the importance of the message across. This is always followed by "we wish to inform you" before the announcement is made (via  Twitter ). But who are they? What we do know is that Sister Imperator is the head, according to Revolver . So she is both clergy and Clergy.

Even after all the reveals, Ghost continues to be shrouded in mystery, and there are some things that may never crawl out of the inner sanctum.

How Ghost — ‘an occult, pop, satanic sort of rock ’n’ roll band’ — conquered metal and the charts

Nine musicians in goth costumes, including eight wearing black gas masks and one wearing a white latex mask

  • Show more sharing options
  • Copy Link URL Copied!

Onstage at Anaheim’s Honda Center arena, Tobias Forge is not himself.

Instead, he is Papa Emeritus IV, leader of the theatrical Swedish metal band Ghost, singing from behind a latex mask and corpse paint, dressed in religious attire or bat wings.

His persona is of Ghost’s demonic pope, preaching of war and plague like a doom prophet amid heavy guitar riffs and vivid pop melodies. Some lyrics are more prescient than fantasy, from warning of “beliefs contagious, spreading disease” on the 2018 song “Rats” to the band’s new “Impera” album, which decries empire-building in time for Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Forge says he’s merely an observer of history and “the circularity of things,” as destructive human impulses repeat themselves catastrophically across the centuries. “Flags, pandemics, flus and dictators come and go,” he says cheerfully. “Empires come and go. It’s always in circles, because at the end of the day we are dealing with humans.”

SUNLAND, CA - JULY 16: Cathy Pellow is the founder and owner of Sargent House - the LA metal and experimental label which is celebrating its 15th year of tastemaking in extreme music. Photographed at the Sargent House on Friday, July 16, 2021 in Sunland, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

After COVID and turmoil, a female-led indie label reemerges as a safe space for noisy women

From a rambling compound in Sunland-Tujunga, Cathy Pellow runs the heavy-rock label Sargent House, a haven for experimental musicians, many of whom are women.

March 14, 2022

Forge, 41, is out of costume and sipping coffee at his West Hollywood hotel after a night of hard rock spectacle, with pyro eruptions and a big stage meant to convey threatening Gothic arches and stained glass. Offstage, Forge is less explosive, dressed in a treasured 1988 Candlemass tour T-shirt, his light auburn hair short and swept upward on top. He’s a thoughtful interview and quick with a joke, a family man with a wife and fraternal twins back in Stockholm. The previous night’s concert in Orange County was the final stop of a co-headlining arena tour with the Danish band Volbeat designed as a prelude to the March 11 release of the band’s fifth album, “Impera.”

During rehearsals ahead of the tour, Forge got “a very mild case” of the Omicron virus. Then the eight other touring members of the band tested positive, along with four crew members. “The whole band had it at the same time, so we just had COVID rehearsals,” he says. The tour happened as scheduled, and Ghost will be back in the U.S. later this year.

A man in white face paint and pope-like costume

The band’s last record, 2018’s “Prequelle,” earned a Grammy nomination for rock album and hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Top 200. The band counts Metallica and Dave Grohl among its high-profile fans, and attracts a multigenerational rock audience, from kids in baby pope gear all the way up to older fanatics nostalgic for ’70s shock rock.

“Ghost has a diverse audience, which I love to see, especially for metal,” says Sammi Chichester, managing editor of Revolver Magazine, a close observer of the metal scene.

Forge is able to find pop hooks even as he mines his own low expectations for mankind. As a result of that catchiness, Ghost has been controversial among certain extreme-metal tastemakers. “It is a routine topic — metalheads love to argue,” says Chichester with a laugh.

The music tends to be more engaging than depressed, despite the ominous religious imagery.

“The lyrics are not about God. They’re about man,” says Forge. “We are, at the end of the day, an occult, pop, satanic sort of rock ’n’ roll band meant to entertain a group of people who are already down with that stuff.”

Any discussion with Forge quickly reveals him as a pop music obsessive, as he casually references Leonard Cohen, the Bangles and the primitive weirdness of the Shaggs. He’s not your typical high priest of metal. “In my adolescence, I was completely a death metal/black metal person in action and message,” he says. “But I always listened to a lot of other things. And that materialized in whatever music I was writing.”

story of ghost band

Ghost was created in 2006 with Forge’s recording of a track called “Stand by Him,” built on a slippery metal riff and roots firmly planted in Scandinavian black metal. The music that followed rarely strayed from a growling metal core but showed surprising flourishes from the beginning, from busy keyboard melodies to delicate acoustic guitar.

The band arrived with a fully formed image that adopted a demonic, bizarro take on the Catholic tradition, accented with Gothic flair and comedy. Forge stood at the microphone in the role of a series of demonic popes called Papa Emeritus (Nos. I-IV), in flamboyant papal attire, with a band of musicians called Nameless Ghouls in silver masks. (The Ghouls now appear in what look like gas masks from a dystopian future.)

Forge, who is the band’s only consistent member, kept his identity hidden behind facepaint and pseudonym until he had to reveal his real name during an unsuccessful 2017 lawsuit by four ex-members of Ghost over back pay.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: The audience hold up mibile phone lights as Jacquees performs on stage at o2 Forum Kentish Town on April 10, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns)

The great concert debate: Are cellphones ruining the live experience?

By now, it’s ubiquitous: the glow of cellphones held aloft at concerts. But artists like Mitski and Bruno Mars are asking fans to watch the show, not their phones.

March 10, 2022

“Impera” was recorded last spring and summer, after the original plan to work with an American producer in the U.S. was canceled as the coronavirus crisis dragged on. Instead, Forge reunited with Swedish producer Klas Åhlund (Ghost’s collaborator on 2015’s “Meliora”), and he took his time composing new songs.

He sketched out a melody for the album’s closer, a nearly seven-minute prog epic called “ Respite on the Spitalfields ,” on the small electric piano in his daughter’s bedroom. “ Twenties ” emerged as a frantic chronicle of greed and oppression, in the form of a “demagogue sect leader speaking down to his followers in utter contempt,” he says. The sneering, catchy ’80s rock of “ Griftwood ” was inspired by former Vice President Mike Pence and leaders who wield the Bible as a means to political power.

The album also arrives as a pair of successful TV series — “ Cobra Kai ” and “Peacemaker” — have reintroduced an earlier generation of pop-metal to the masses, with prominent use of ’80s hits by the likes of Twisted Sister, Faster Pussycat, Hanoi Rocks, Ratt, Mötley Crüe, Scorpions and Def Leppard.

Ghost isn’t a throwback to the hair-metal era but does share a taste for hooks and melodrama. Forge hasn’t seen “Peacemaker” but spent quality downtime at home in Sweden watching “Cobra Kai” with his teenage daughter. “That series is a slam-dunk,” he says of the show, which continues the story of the “Karate Kid” movies. “And the music is great.”

The Ghost mastermind admits to nostalgia for what was commonly known as “album-oriented rock,” the mainstream rock category epitomized by Journey, Foreigner, Boston and other ’70s and ’80s FM radio stars. “I’m a huge fan of AOR bands,” says Forge, describing the genre as “smart divorce rock played by older men with mustaches who have gone through a little bit in their lives.”

story of ghost band

Forge was raised in Linköping, Sweden, by a single mother and indoctrinated into rock early, by a brother 13 years older. Before he was 10, Forge was buying English and German rock magazines he couldn’t read, and absorbing as much metal, punk and classic rock as he could.

As a teenager, his tastes grew even darker and more extreme, as he discovered underground metal rising from Europe and America — then turned away from anything new in the genre after 1994, when he sensed things becoming too polished, spoiling the scary lo-fi sound and image he loved.

As Ghost itself grows more sophisticated in its sound and approach, Forge knows some longtime fans wish he would return to the band’s original recipe. Forge understands the feeling, and admits that he’d love nothing more than to produce new albums from bands of his youth so that he could force them back to an earlier sound.

He says he wants to satisfy fans while also challenging them. “I deal with that professionally in one way, and as a fan in another.”

Forge fully appreciates the intense feelings a music fan can have about a recording artist. Evolution is not always welcome.

“That has a lot to do with the type of personalities that are drawn to the world that we’ve been talking about: metal, hardcore, comic books, sci-fi — it’s a retreat, a safe place of order, organization, knowledge. This is the world that you hide in after school. And now there’s someone coming in there trying to … evolve? It’s disruptive.

“It’s not right or wrong. The future is what we don’t know, as much as it hurts.”

It's a date

Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

Taylor Swift in a bejeweled blue and gold leotard flexing her left arm and holding a microphone in her right hand on a stage

Entertainment & Arts

Taylor Swift searches get ‘temporary’ block on X after deepfakes. It’s a flawed solution

Jan. 29, 2024

The Greatest Night in Pop. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

Lionel Richie, Prince and a grumpy Bob Dylan: The untold story behind ‘We Are the World’

Left, Justin Timberlake. Right, Britney Spears.

Britney Spears ‘in love’ with Timberlake’s ‘Selfish,’ apologizes for offending him

Joni Mitchell performs in a surprise appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, R.I. on Sunday, July 24, 2022.

Joni Mitchell will perform at the 66th Grammy Awards next week

Jan. 28, 2024


  • Mailing List


Phantomime Out Now


Jesus He Knows Me

Phantom Of The Opera

Coming Soon


Impera Out Now


Featured Music

Shop more music here

Get Email Updates

Join our mailing list to get the latest news, tour updates, releases and more. You'll be the first to know.


Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

  • November 21 Cullen, Proteau run in NCAA Championships
  • November 20 Households can order 4 free tests through COVIDTests.gov. If you haven't placed an order since the program reopened, you can place 2 orders for a total of 8 tests.
  • November 17 UWO volleyball advances to Second Round of NCAA Tournament
  • November 2 Daylight saving time ends Sunday, so don't forget to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday night.
  • October 18 UWO Hall of Famer Tom Taraska dies

story of ghost band

  • Arts and Entertainment

The reinvention of live music: The story of Ghost


Photo: Dylan Baumgart / Advance-Titan — GhThe Reinvention of Live Music – Ghost performed recently in Green Bay. Besides their music, the band is known for protecting their identities by always wearing masks.

Dylan Baumgart , Staff Writer November 1, 2022

Ghost , a Swedish psychedelic rock/heavy metal band, came onto the scene in 2010 when they released their debut album “ Opus Eponymous .” Over the years their popularity has skyrocketed. In 2016, they won their first Grammy for Best Metal Performance. In 2019, they were nominated for two more Grammys: Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song.  

Ghost’s claim to fame is their live performances. They are known for putting on an incredibly intricate, story-driven performance that anyone can enjoy, even if you do not know the band.  

To understand Ghost as a band and their performances, you first must know a little bit about their history. Ghost is unique in that all the members of the band, except for the singer, are unknown to the public; even the singer does not show his face out of costume. The band wears full face masks on and off stage to protect their identities and the singer, named Tobias Forge, wears black and white skeleton-like face paint.  

story of ghost band

The band has cycled through four singers, although it is widely believed that they were all just Tobias going by a different onstage persona. The first character to appear was named Papa Emeritus who was then replaced by Papa Emeritus II in 2012 and Papa Emeritus III in 2015. In 2017, Papa Emeritus III was dragged off stage at the end of one of their performances, and in 2018, he was replaced by the current persona, Papa Emeritus IV.  

For those unfamiliar with the band, you may have heard of their song “ Marry on a Cross . ” This is their most popular song by far, amassing more than 150 million streams on Spotify alone. It gained massive popularity after blowing up on TikTok just a month or so ago.  

Anyone would enjoy Ghost live performances. Their mix of theatrics, dramatic stage building, canons, confetti, smoke, fire, explosions and music that anyone could enjoy makes Ghost one of the most legendary bands to see.  

I saw the band perform in Green Bay on their most recent tour. Unfortunately, the tour has ended. However, the band comes around every year or two, and I would highly recommend making the trip to see them when the chance arises. Their tour schedule can be found at ghost-official.com/#tour .  

Photo Courtesy of Laura Johnson - Visit the Sugar Plum Fairy and check out her whimsical decorations.

Dive into the magical world of The Nutcracker

story of ghost band

Shop local this holiday season

Confessions of a Mall Santa

Confessions of a Mall Santa

Senior Send-Off: Katie Pulvermacher

Senior Send-Off: Katie Pulvermacher

Senior Send-Off: Mattie Beck

Senior Send-Off: Mattie Beck

Courtesy of EAA Museum - Clyde Lee poses by his airplane that will be used in his historic transatlantic flight attempt as the first to fly from America to Oslo.

EAA Museum highlights local history

Nutcracker in the Castle: The perfect escape from reality

Courtesy of Jim Koepnick Photography - The EAA grounds welcome the Celebration of Lights event to their grounds this year for the community to experience.

Christmas in the Air returns

Arts and Entertainment Cartoons

Music Department announces December events

Photo courtesy of New Moon Cafe

A broke college student’s guide to downtown

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

  • Letters to the Editor

Comments (0)

UK Edition Change

  • UK Politics
  • News Videos
  • Paris 2024 Olympics
  • Rugby Union
  • Sport Videos
  • John Rentoul
  • Mary Dejevsky
  • Andrew Grice
  • Sean O’Grady
  • Photography
  • Theatre & Dance
  • Culture Videos
  • Food & Drink
  • Health & Families
  • Royal Family
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Lifestyle Videos
  • UK Hotel Reviews
  • News & Advice
  • Simon Calder
  • Australia & New Zealand
  • South America
  • C. America & Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • Politics Explained
  • News Analysis
  • Today’s Edition
  • Home & Garden
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Travel & Outdoors
  • Sports & Fitness
  • Sustainable Living
  • Climate Videos
  • Behind The Headlines
  • On The Ground
  • Decomplicated
  • You Ask The Questions
  • Binge Watch
  • Travel Smart
  • Watch on your TV
  • Crosswords & Puzzles
  • Most Commented
  • Newsletters
  • Ask Me Anything
  • Virtual Events
  • Betting Sites
  • Online Casinos
  • Wine Offers

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in Please refresh your browser to be logged in

Papal regalia, on-stage rituals and razzle-dazzle rock’n’roll: Why Ghost are the biggest Satanic band on the planet

The wildly successful swedish group are bringing fun and theatrics back to heavy metal. jak hutchcraft meets founder tobias forge to talk blasphemy, steampunk and their wild new album ‘impera’, article bookmarked.

Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile

Ghost frontman Tobias Forge

Roisin O’Connor’s

Sign up to Roisin O’Connor’s free weekly newsletter Now Hear This for the inside track on all things music

Get our now hear this email for free, thanks for signing up to the roisin o’connor’s email.

“What we’re trying to do is orchestrate a religious event, with all the bombastic nature of a mass, but without the guilt,” explains Tobias Forge, the enigmatic frontman of Swedish metal band Ghost , of a typical gig. “We want you to make you feel good about yourself when you leave.”

For well over a decade, Ghost have been doing a pretty good job of that. Spreading their joyous gospel far and wide, they’re currently in the middle of a massive global arena tour and have just graced the covers of heavy metal bibles Kerrang! and Metal Hammer . In a few days, they release Impera , their extravagant fifth album. They are both very big and very weird – fans of ultra-gothic face paint, expensive-looking masks and dressing up like The Pope. A recipe for cult success maybe, but how did Ghost get so popular?

Let’s go back to the start. This eight-piece metal band began in 2006 in the small, lakeside cathedral city of Linkoping in southern Sweden. Theatre enthusiast and songwriter Tobias Forge had been cutting his teeth in local glam and death metal bands since the mid Nineties, but had long dreamt of being part of something bigger.

What he came up with was the airtight concept of anonymous musicians dressed in papal regalia, flamboyant stage shows in the style of Iron Maiden, and classic rock-edged, AOR-inspired gothic metal. Forge’s aim was to bring the razzle-dazzle of Alice Cooper and Kiss to the 21st century, with softly sung lyrics gunning for organised religion and political corruption. In 2008, he posted three songs on MySpace. Within a year they were signed.

Since then Ghost (originally known as Ghost BC in the US) have released four critically acclaimed albums, won two Grammys and toured the world with Guns N’ Roses and Alice In Chains. They’ve even sold out the Royal Albert Hall. They’ve got plenty of rock star fans – including Dave Grohl, who produced a 2013 EP – but their most important achievement is the dedicated on-the-ground following they’ve cultivated, spanning hardcore kids, veteran rockers and emo teens.

It would be hard to pinpoint a typical Ghost devotee, due to the impressively broad range of fans they attract. You could say it’s a broad church. “Style-wise you have the metal heads and the not-so-metal heads, and the pop girls,” says Forge. “They like Star Wars , they like comic books, they like horror films. They like rock music with a slight nostalgia touch of the Seventies and Eighties.”

Ghost’s frontman and master of ceremonies is currently between gigs. The band played a sold-out show in Cincinnati last night and Forge is gearing up for Milwaukie in a few hours. After their epic American crusade, there’s a run of shows across the UK and Europe – including the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena – to further share the lavish sounds of Impera .

Its 12 tracks don’t stray too far from the extravagant metal of their previous records, full of dark sing-alongs and vintage songwriting that sounds as if rock never entered the Nineties. When it comes to inspiration, Forge name-checks artists as diverse as US punk trailblazers Bad Religion, singer-songwriter Tori Amos and Danish heavy metallers King Diamond. It’s a combination that makes Ghost truly unlike any of their contemporaries and Impera is the sound of a band at their musical peak. Try the gothic groove of single “Call Me Little Sunshine” – a highlight on an album that’s full of them. Not only will it make old fans rejoice, it’s the perfect starting place for the curious and uninitiated.

Mass appeal: the band Ghost

“On this record, we are in a kind of Victorian industrialism,” Forge explains of the concept behind the new LP. “It’s the late 1800s and there’s no city that fully embodies that more than London, so it’s set there.”

Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

In January the band projected huge, eerie images onto landmarks in the capital, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, to promote the record. Forge cites Tim Burton’s Batman and Bram Stoker’s Dracula as inspirations for the semi-fantasy world of Impera , while closing track “Respite on the Spitalfields” is a story of companionship and fear in the time of Jack the Ripper.

“Not only is it a visually pleasing and interesting era, but it’s similar to today in the sense that the world was also going through a big industrial revolution,” explains Forge, channeling this historian within. “People were made redundant, but back then there were a lot of other jobs. Nowadays, for every invention, for every app that some asshole comes up with, there are so many people who are made completely superfluous. That is not good for humanity.”

Speaking of redundancies, Ghost have gone through four incarnations of Forge’s frontman character over the years. First he was Papa Emeritus I, dressed as a wicked Pope with skeletal black and white makeup, then he became Papa Emeritus II, before Papa Emeritus III and Papa Nihil. Each character is dramatically killed off or replaced at the end of each album campaign, with the new character foreshadowing and teasing the theme of the next record. Impera is the first to see Forge performing as Cardinal Copia aka Papa Emeritus IV, complete with bejeweled robes and immaculate corpse paint.

For the first 11 years of the band’s career, Forge was an anonymous and unnamed frontman, further adding to the mystery of Ghost. But his anonymity was brought to an abrupt end in 2017 when four ex-Ghost bandmates tried to sue him for allegedly cheating them out of their share of profits. Forge maintains that they had “no legal contract” and were paid as session musicians. He won the case but in the process lost the mystique he’d meticulously maintained for over a decade. In 2019 he was quoted as having “slightly mixed emotions” about being unmasked. Now he barely gives it a second thought. The unexpected big reveal made little impact on the hold Ghost have on the imaginations of their fans – if anything, it seems to have brought them even more attention.

Rock n regalia: Ghost in 2021

The fans – who are known as “Ghuleh” if women and “Ghouls” if men – can often be seen dressed in homemade Ghost-inspired attire at gigs; flowing robes, painted faces and ceremonial masks. I ask Forge about his vision and intentions for the live shows, known within the community as “Rituals”.

“Well, it’s theatrical. We are sort of the opposite of Pearl Jam, in that way,” he laughs. The dark side of divinity drives Forge’s creativity. “I’ve always had an intense relationship with organised, linear religion, let’s put it that way. I’m very fascinated with the art and the history of it, but maybe not so much with the rules and the blame and the guilt.”

Ghost’s flirtations with religion have caused some bumps in the road. In 2018, a Christian group prayed outside a gig in Texas, accusing Ghost of “bringing glory to Satan”, and their second album Infestissumam was delayed because manufacturers refused to print its “blasphemous” artwork. I ask Forge whether this kind of reaction is an issue as they continue to ascend into the rock mainstream. “A lot of that [Christian backlash] sort of disappeared after the Eighties,” he shrugs. “You had the crazies or the pastors on TV who came out and said ‘Don’t go and see Ozzy Osbourne! He’s the devil’s advocate!’ But all that did was sell out the show and maybe sell 500,000 more records. They learned their lesson after that.”

I ask if Forge identifies as a Satanist and without hesitation he opens up. “You know, Christianity is to blame for so much evil. And you have Isis, you know. That’s all in the name of God, right?” He goes on to say that modern Satanism is probably closest to his own belief system. “Pop cultural Satanism is all about humanity. It’s all about being able to express yourself and having the ability to. We’re f***ing humanists.” He goes on to say that he’s been invited onto TV debates with various religious leaders but always politely declines. “At the end of the day, I am an entertainer,” he reasons. “We’re here to make people happy, our goal is not to make [religious people] angry.”

It’s true that the world of Ghost is a fun one. There’s a playfulness in their on-stage theatrics, catchy choruses and shock ‘n’ roll celebration. As pop’s major players endlessly share personal content on social media, mystery and myth seem hard to come by. But Ghost have resurrected rock’s arcane and exciting distant past; the epitome of a creative vision well-executed, a cult-following captivated, and the longevity and success that comes with both.

‘Impera’ is released 11 March

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Subscribe to Independent Premium to bookmark this article

Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Start your Independent Premium subscription today.

New to The Independent?

Or if you would prefer:

Want an ad-free experience?

Hi {{indy.fullName}}

  • My Independent Premium
  • Account details
  • Help centre
  • Album Release Calendar
  • Festival Guide
  • Heavy History


Ghost Is the 2022 Artist of the Year – Interview

Ghost  is Loudwire’s pick for the 2022 Artist of the Year. Tobias Forge joined us for an exclusive interview to discuss the band’s fifth album, Impera , his decision to reveal his bandmates’ identities, “Mary on a Cross” going viral on TikTok, wanting to bring Ghost’s concerts to Rammstein levels and more.

2022 was also the year that Ghost fans got to know Papa Emeritus IV . Promoted from his role as Cardinal Copia , the fourth Papa was the first time fans got to see a character evolve rather than simply appear.

“I liked the fact that we weren’t doing the same spiel one more time. Of course, it would’ve been less of a pleasant experience if it had really tanked and that really put an end to everything,” Forge says laughing. “Now we’re years into that character and we’re slowly seeing the end of that. It feels like a great circle.”

Impera was somewhat of a risk for Ghost, as once again they moved further away from their starting point as a late ‘60s / early ‘70s occult doom act. The music on Impera features Meliora -esque tracks like “ Call Me Little Sunshine ” and “ Hunter’s Moon ,” but floats into almost rock opera territory with “ Twenties ” and “Kaisarion,” and into ‘80s-era arena anthems like “Watcher in the Sky” and “Grift Wood.”

“I knew there were things on the album that would be up against some sort of reaction, but I felt the same way about 'Zombie Queen.' I felt the same way about 'He Is.' I felt like we were taking giant steps sideways, in a good way, already on the second record — intentionally, because I didn’t want to repeat Opus Eponymous ,” Forge explains. “There were moments where, I wouldn’t say doubts, but I could hear elements of the record that’s like, ‘This might be pushing it a little.’ But where would we be going if not forward? That’s what we do.”

Another left turn Ghost experienced in 2022 was the sudden explosion of “Mary on a Cross.” Originally released in 2019 as the b-side to their “Kiss the Go-Goat” single, TikTok gave the track new life , and ultimately turned the somewhat obscure song into Ghost’s most-streamed song on Spotify — even more than “Square Hammer” or “Dance Macabre.”

“I’ve always felt like it was a song that was… I’m not implying that anyone spat on it, but it was like, ‘I can’t believe this is not a song we made a single out of,’” Forge says. “When that happened, I felt… I wouldn’t say vindicated, because no one shat on it, but I’m really happy that it’s a song that I’ve always felt very strongly about, that we always played … that’s already a part of the DNA of what we do. I’m super stoked about that.”

Ghost, "Mary on a Cross" (Live In Tampa 2022)

“Bags off” is the order Forge gave to his bandmates as they took an end-of-tour photo onstage in mid 2022. After well over a decade of keeping the members of Ghost anonymous to the public, often wearing bags over their heads while on tour, Forge finally decided to reveal the identities of each musician in his ever-expanding band.

“Why now?” We asked Tobias. Long story short, Ghost were planning to hand out Broadway-style playbills at their shows, filled with stories and details about each band member. COVID ultimately made the production of said playbills too complicated, so Forge ended up exposing his bandmates’ identities the new fashioned way — through social media.

After the picture was done, someone asked, ‘Is it okay if it leaks out?’ ‘It’s gonna leak anyway, so sure,’” Tobias responded. “We’re not changing our M.O. in the sense that just because you know who’s playing drums or who’s singing backup does not mean that we have a live stream backstage and all of a sudden everyone is supposed to Instagram whatever they’re eating or where they’re eating or all that stuff that every other band is doing. I’m still trying to get everyone to not do what I’ve spent 12 years professionally not [doing].”

After another landmark year for one of rock and metal’s premier bands, Forge is looking into the future for what Ghost can achieve next. Namely, he wants to turn Ghost’s concerts into gigantic outdoor spectacles.

“Rammstein, obviously, is the perfect example of exactly just that,” Forge raves. “If you look at a show that they did in 1995, it’s basically the same gags, they’re doing the same things, it’s just magnified and placed out in this huge field. I think that Ghost could do that, but in order to make that happen, you need to be able to sell a lot of tickets everywhere. It costs so much to make that show that you can not just do it once, you can not do it twice, you can not do it 10 times, you need to do it so many times and it takes such a long time to recover that money. You’re literally burning money. That would be my long term goal.”

Congratulations to Ghost for another incredible year. Check out our full interview with Tobias Forge below.

Tobias Forge - I Want Ghost Shows to Reach Rammstein Levels | 2022 Artist of the Year

50 best rock + metal albums of 2022.

  • View history

All of the band members' true identities were kept well-hidden from the general public until 2017, when four former members filed a lawsuit against the lead singer, confirming his true identity.DemiurgicArchangelMichael

  • 1.1 Formation and  Opus Eponymous era
  • 1.2 Infestissumam era
  • 1.3 Meliora era
  • 1.4 Prequelle era
  • 1.5 IMPERA era
  • 2.2 Papa Emeritus
  • 2.3 Identities
  • 4 Controversy
  • 5 Awards and nominations
  • 6 Tourography
  • 8 References

History [ ]

Formation and  opus eponymous era [ ].


Ghost on stage in 2011 at FortaRock

A Nameless Ghoul  said that Ghost formed in 2006, when the members were in another band together and he played a riff for them that would become "Stand By Him" . He said, "I said that this is probably the most heavy metal riff that has ever existed ... When the chorus came to me, it haunted my dreams. Every time I picked up the guitar, I ended up playing that progression, and when I fit the words in, it seemed to cry out for a Satanically-oriented lyric."

After choosing the name Ghost, the band decided to use their love of horror films and "the traditions of Scandinavian metal" in the band's imagery. A Nameless Ghoul said, "Everything started with a bunch of songs. We knew very early that to make this material work we needed to fulfill our dream of putting a horror show together with music. We knew it would take a while to get things assembled, get the imagery in order. It ended up being two years of planning before we made the announcement that the band was active. That led to a very fast signing with a record label and our first show." In 2010, the band produced a three-track demo and the vinyl-only single " Elizabeth ", before releasing their first studio album,  Opus Eponymous , on October 18, 2010. The album was well-received and was nominated for the 2011 Grammis Award for "Best Hard Rock" album.

Ghost supported gothic metal band Paradise Lost on their "Draconian Times MMXI" tour in April 2011. On May 29, Ghost made their United States debut at the Maryland Deathfest. The band played at the annual Download Festival in the United Kingdom on the Pepsi Max Stage on June 11. Following their performance, Phil Anselmo, lead singer of the band Down, performed wearing a Ghost T-shirt and invited three of Ghost's members to join him on the main stage, where they performed Down's hit: "Bury Me In Smoke" together. When Down closed their set, both guitars and drums were played by members of Ghost.

Ghost took part in the "Defenders of the Faith III" tour with Trivium, In Flames, and Rise to Remain for its UK and Europe shows. The band then embarked on their first United States tour, "13 Dates of Doom," beginning in New York on January 18, 2012, and ending on February 2 in Los Angeles. Ghost joined Mastodon and Opeth as the opening act on the Heritage Hunter Tour throughout North America during April and May 2012. In early 2012, a Nameless Ghoul said that the band had completed writing their second album.

Infestissumam era [ ]


Ghost performing at Brooklyn, 28 July 2013

On December 15, 2012, Ghost performed a special show in their hometown, Linköping, where they debuted a new song titled " Secular Haze ", which was released online earlier that day, as well as their cover of ABBA's " I'm a M arionette ". During the same show, they introduced Papa Emeritus II as the successor to the band's frontman Papa Emeritus . On December 20, the band announced that their second album,  Infestissumam , would be released in early 2013. It was released in North America by Loma Vista Recordings in partnership with Republic Records—a division of Universal Music Group—marking Ghost's major label debut.

On February 5, 2013, the band announced the adoption of the name " Ghost B.C. " in the United States for legal reasons.  A Nameless Ghoul said, "B.C. is obviously a pun on ‘Before Christ’, but it’s just an amendment. In our world, we’re just gonna be called Ghost ... The B.C. is silent, and as soon as we can, it’s gonna be taken away forever." They officially dropped the amendment from their name in 2015.

On March 12, fans could access a new song online titled " Year Zero " if they promoted the band on Facebook by endorsing the election of its frontman as the next Pope of the Catholic Church. Infestissumam was originally scheduled to be released on April 9 in the US, but the band could not find a US company that would manufacture the CD. Four US CD manufacturers rejected the job because the artwork for the deluxe edition of the album was described as "basically a 16th century illustration of an orgy." Rather than delay the album further, the band decided to use the artwork from the regular edition for the US pressings of the deluxe edition and announced the new release date of April 16. All European copies and the US vinyl versions include the controversial artwork. Ghost began their "Haze Over North America" tour on April 12 at the Coachella Festival, which consisted of about twenty dates in the US and Canada, and continued until May 18.

In 2013, Ghost embarked on a massive world tour and performed at several music festivals, including the 2013 Download Festival and Sweden's Metaltown. On July 27, Ghost began a six date tour, which was supported by Skeletonwitch. This tour was titled the "Still Hazing over North America Tour", signifying a continuance of the earlier tour. It ended in Chicago at the Lollapalooza festival. Immediately after, Ghost toured South America supporting Iron Maiden and Slayer; this tour included a performance at Rock in Rio. Ghost opened for Avenged Sevenfold and Deftones on a US tour in October. In November, the band toured the UK with Alice in Chains.

On November 20, 2013, the band released the EP  If You Have Ghost , consisting almost entirely of cover songs. It was produced by Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame. In late 2013, Ghost returned to Sweden before embarking on an early 2014 tour of Australia, which was followed by a Scandinavian tour. On January 18, 2014, Ghost won the Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album for   Infestissumam . They then embarked on the "Tour Zero Year 2014" which lasted from April 17 until May 17 in North America. In July 2014, they performed at the European Sonisphere Festival.

Meliora era [ ]


Ghost performing at Frankfurt, Germany, 17 February 2016

Ghost's third studio album, the follow up to  Infestissumam ,  Meliora  was released on August 21, 2015. In an advertisement for the album that aired May 28 on VH1 Classic, it was announced that Papa Emeritus II was "fired" and that his successor Papa Emeritus III is his younger brother by a full three months. The song " Cirice " was released as a free download from the band's official site on May 31, and won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. Papa Emeritus III was officially unveiled with a debut performance in Linköping on June 3, 2015, where the band also performed new songs from the upcoming album.

The album was first promoted in August by a five date acoustic tour named "Unholy/Unplugged" of record shops in the US. Here Papa Emeritus III sported slicked-back jet black hair without his trademark, and performed alongside the two guitarist Nameless Ghouls; accompanying them on the  kazoo . A tour of the US titled "Black To The Future" began on September 22 and ran until November 1. This was quickly followed by a European tour of the same name that ran until December 21, including a full UK tour and two other tours in North America that took place in the spring and mid-summer of 2016.

On September 12, 2016, the band released a new track on a radio show titled " Square Hammer " and a new EP,  Popestar , was released on September 16, the same day the  Popestar Tour began. Following the conclusion of the North American tour that concluded on November 12, was the European tour of the same name which started in late March and finished in late April 2017. They were the opening act for  Iron Maiden  on their 2017 North America tour from June to July 2017. A Nameless Ghoul stated that after the tour was over, they would be writing and recording the new album which they stated would be much darker than  Meliora , with Tobias confirming in a recent interview that the fourth album would be released in 2018.

In early 2017, Tobias Forge was sued by former Ghost members Simon Söderberg, Mauro Rubino, Martin Hjertstedt, and Henrik Palm as part of a royalties dispute. The four, who left Ghost in 2016, filed the suit in the district court of Linköping, Sweden and accused Forge, who was in charge of the band's business affairs, of withholding financial information and payments to the other members. The former members also claimed that "Our vocalist and former friend is now attempting to, in an underhanded and shameless way, transform Ghost from a band into a solo project with hired musicians." Forge claimed that "no legal partnership" ever existed between the other members and himself; they were paid a fixed salary to perform and execute the band's image as he instructed as "musicians for hire." He also stated that he refers to Ghost as a solo project, "Even though I've never wanted it that way, but at the end of the day, that is what it is. I mean, I started it in 2006, and no one that was ever in the band in 2016 was even on the first record. Call it solo, if you want to, but I call it a project."

On August 24, 2017, the band released their final music video from  Meliora  for their song " He Is ". It premiered at Saint Vitus Bar in New York City the day before. The band released their first live album titled  Ceremony and Devotion  digitally on December 8, 2017, with a physical release following on January 19, 2018.

Prequelle era [ ]

On April 13, 2018, Ghost released a new single, titled " Rats ", along with an accompanying music video. This marked the first release from the band, with their "new" frontman Cardinal Copia . The band also announced June 1, 2018, as the release date of their fourth studio album, titled  Prequelle . Mid way through the Prequelle touring cycle in chapter 8 of the anthology series the band has released on YouTube featuring Papa Nihil & Sister Imperator. Nihil took a trip down memory lane and gave us a look at a song released by the band back in 1969 song called Kiss the Go - Goat. This song along with Mary On A Cross would later be released within the Prequelle Exhaled edition of the record as a bonus LP titled Seven inches of Satanic Panic. With both songs being deemed “rarities from the clergy’s vault” both songs feature Papa Nihil as the vocalist.

On March 3, 2020 in Mexico, the last show of the Prequelle tour took place, appropriately titled “A Final Gig Named Death”. With speculation running wild in the days leading up to the show it was clear something big was going to happen. During the show when it came time to play “ Miasma ” Papa Nihil took the stage with his saxophone as usual until a puff of “miasma” (smoke) blew into his face and seemingly killed him. As Nihil doctors tended to him Cardinal Copia emerged on his tricycle confused as to what just happened. After realizing Nihil was dead it was time for him to “ascend”. A host of corpse-painted nuns surrounded Copia and began undressing him. After a few minutes the nuns separated to reveal Cardinal Copia was no more and that Papa Emeritus IV had arrived. The show would continue on with the return of the devilish classic Con Clavi Con Dio with Papa Emeritus IV leading on vocals for the rest of the night.

IMPERA era [ ]

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill in the weeks after A Final Gig Named Death, putting a long pause on any hopes of full-scale live touring. Tobias Forge indicated in October 2020 that the next studio album was to be released that winter, however, it was delayed further.

Papa Emeritus IV performed a single song live with The Hellacopters on January 21, 2021 - a cover of the Rolling Stones ' "Sympathy for the Devil". It would be another year before Ghost would return to touring, kicking off the Pre-Imperatour on January 25, 2022 in Reno, Nevada.

IMPERA was released on March 11, 2022 and quickly became the band's most successful effort to date, reaching #1 on album charts in several countries.

Members [ ]

  • Papa Emeritus – vocals (2008–2012)
  • Papa Emeritus II – vocals (2012–2015)
  • Papa Emeritus III – vocals, kazoo (2015–2017)
  • Cardinal Copia – vocals (2018–2020)
  • Papa Emeritus IV (Formerly Cardinal Copia ) – vocals (2020–present)


  • Male Multighoul (Also known as Swiss) – guitarist, tambourine, backing vocals, saxophonist (as Papa Nihil )
  • Female Multighoul – keyboardist, tambourine, backing vocal

The six members of Ghost mimic the Roman Catholic Church but have reversed the image to worship Satan instead of the Holy Trinity. The Nameless Ghouls each represent one of the five elements; fire, water, wind, earth, and ether, and wear their respective alchemical symbol on their instruments. With the new Meliora costume changes each Nameless Ghoul has all five elemental symbols embroidered on the right breast of their costumes, and the elemental symbol representing the individual ghoul is highlighted to show the identity of the wearer.

Papa Emeritus [ ]

The group's vocalist portrays the band's mascot character, a Satanic priest known as Papa Emeritus. There have been four different characters taking the name Papa Emeritus. The first welcomed the second Papa Emeritus on December 12, 2012, in Linköping . On June 3, 2015, the second Papa Emeritus welcomed his younger brother as the new Papa Emeritus in Linköping after being "fired" due to not performing his duty in overthrowing governments and churches. Papa Emeritus II and Papa Emeritus III were stated to only have a 3-month difference in age. On September 30, 2017 during a show in Gothenburg, Papa Emeritus III was dragged off stage by two men, who then escorted a new character, Papa Emeritus Zero , to the stage to introduce the band's next chapter. Papa Emeritus Zero is portrayed as being significantly older than the previous Papas, making use of a walker and oxygen tank whilst walking on stage. On January 19, 2018, the band shared a video to their Instagram promoting their live album Ceremony and Devotion. The video features a character, implied to be Papa Emeritus IV, listening to the album on 8-track tape while critiquing Papa Emeritus III's vocal abilities. The character's face is hidden offscreen, but he is shown to wear red vestments similar to a cardinal priest. All versions of Papa Emeritus are actually the same vocalist .

Peter Hällje, a former bandmate of former Ghost member Martin Persner, claimed he designed the Papa Emeritus character in 2005, prior to the formation of Ghost. Hällje never performed as Papa Emeritus and agreed with Persner to let him use the character for his then-new band. His claim was later confirmed by Forge.

In April 2018, it was revealed that the "new leader" of Ghost would be Cardinal Copia , who made his live debut with the group at a private acoustic show on April 6. On March 3rd, 2020, during the last concert of the Pale Tour Named Death tour, Cardinal Copia was crowned Papa Emeritus IV after Papa Emeritus Nihil died onstage.

Identities [ ]

Anonymity is a major characteristic of Ghost; the members have not publicly revealed their names, and the group's five instrumentalists are only referred to as " Nameless Ghouls ". During signings, the Nameless Ghouls sign merchandise by stamping their respective alchemical symbols, while Papa Emeritus signs with his stage name or the letters "P.E." [1] .

One Ghoul said the idea that the band's members remain anonymous to gain attention is a misconception, and that the idea was to remove their personalities to allow their audiences to focus upon the artwork itself. He also said, "Had not the music been rocking, I don’t think that people would have gone gaga just about our looks". In 2011, a Nameless Ghoul said, "We're often mistaken for roadies, which is helpful. We've almost been thrown out of venues we've played. Forgetting our backstage pass is a big problem." In early 2012, a member of the band said he enjoyed being an individual and that he could easily "step outside the bubble" when he wanted to. In May 2013, a Ghoul disclosed that they had started to reveal their membership in the group to their local friends and family "for house peace."

In an August 2013 interview with Jack Osbourne for Fuse News, a member of the band said that Dave Grohl has dressed up as a Nameless Ghoul and secretly performed with Ghost. In April 2014, a Nameless Ghoul revealed that the group has had several member changes through the years.

The Swedish Performing Rights Society is rumored to have Tobias Forge , vocalist of Swedish bands Subvision and  Repugnant  and former guitarist for  Crashdïet  (using the alias Mary Goore in the latter two), credited with songs as " A Ghoul Writer ". All of the band's songs are credited to "A Ghoul Writer", causing people to suspect that Forge is Papa Emeritus. Ghost has stated they will not comment on any rumors of their identities. Following a lawsuit in 2017, Forge's identity as Papa Emeritus was revealed.

In March 2017, Swedish musician Martin Persner of the band Magna Carta Cartel claimed in a short video clip that he was the rhythm guitarist, also known as Omega, from 2009 to July 2016. This marked the first time that someone has publicly identified themselves as a member of Ghost. A few months before Persner's announcement, the band recruited a new female bass player who was suspected to be  Lez Zeppelin  bassist Megan Thomas, later confirmed by Forge. A lawsuit against Forge in April 2017 on behalf of four past members revealed their names, as well as the names of several more past members. When asked about the complete lineup change at the end of 2016, Forge stated that Ghost "was always sort of… I guess a  Bathory  sort of band, where there was people playing live, and the people playing live [were] not necessarily the same that played on the records." The reason for this lawsuit was because they found the amount of money they got paid too little. In the contract they signed it was clear they were there to do the live music and got paid for that. The band also is officially of Tobias Forge which means that the players get less paid. This made them lose the lawsuit.

Ghost's music has been categorized in many genres, though critics usually classify them as heavy metal, doom metal, hard rock, and to a lesser extent progressive rock and psychedelic rock. Adrien Begrand of PopMatters stated that Ghost recalls "the early sounds of  Black Sabbath ,  Pentagram , and  Judas Priest , as well as the progressive and psychedelic rock of the late '60s." Speaking to Noisey.com, a Nameless Ghoul described Ghost as a black metal band in the traditional sense, but said that they probably do not fit into the norms of the current black metal scene. This Nameless Ghoul described Ghost's music as a mix between pop music and death metal.

In an interview, a Nameless Ghoul said they are influenced by "everything ranging from classic rock to the extreme underground metal bands of the ’80s to film scores to the grandeur of emotional harmonic music." A member of the band said the Swedish and Scandinavian black metal movement of the early '90s plays a major role in their act, and said that each member has come from a metal background. However, the band has stated several times that they do not aim to be a metal band. For their second album , Ghost chose a more diverse songwriting style; a member said, "we tried to deliberately have every song have its own signature."  O nly a few members actually write songs. The writers compose an acoustic outline of songs before other instrumentation is added so it sounds like a group, rather than being dominated by guitar. In 2017, Forge claimed that he was the main author of every song except " Year Zero " and " Zenith ", which were Persner's ideas. Asked how he keeps Ghost's sound intact despite large lineup changes, Forge said he has to teach them to play like he does; explaining that while he is a good guitar player, he is only an "okay" drummer, bassist and keyboardist. So it is a matter of getting them to "underperform [laughs] together."

Their lyrics are blatantly Satanic; one Ghoul said, "the first album is about the forthcoming arrival of the Devil, spoken very much in biblical terms, much like the church will say that doomsday is near. Infestissumam is about the presence of the Devil and the presence of the Antichrist." However, the band has said several times their image is all tongue-in-cheek, citing that "We have no militant agenda. We are an entertainment group."  Infestissumam  also deals with "how people relate to a deity or God, themes like submission and superstition, the horrors of being religious." Additionally, a Nameless Ghoul said the second album is about "how mankind—predominantly men—what they have deemed to be the presence of the Devil, throughout history and even nowadays. And that’s why the record is so fueled with sexual themes and females ... the Inquisition was basically men accusing women of being the Devil just because they had a hard-on for them." The group's theatrics are influenced by  Kiss ,  David Bowie  and  Alice Cooper , but a member said they are more influenced by  Pink Floyd . A Ghoul later cited  Death SS  as an influence on their "gimmick" but not their music.

Controversy [ ]

Ghost's Satanic theme has proven problematic for the group, especially in the United States. While recording  Infestissumam  in Nashville, Tennessee, they were unable to find choral singers who would sing their lyrics, forcing them to record the parts in Hollywood. The group was unable to find a record manufacturer in the US to press the album because it featured artwork showing nudity, which resulted in a delay to the album's release. When one interviewer suggested that the band's music had become more "radio-friendly" and that they were being accepted into the US mainstream, a Nameless Ghoul replied that in the US their music was banned from major chain stores, most late-night television shows, and most commercial radio stations. He said, "So, yes, mainstream America is absolutely welcoming us with open legs." During an interview with Loudwire in October 2015, a band member stated that as of 2015, the US had become more accepting of their music and imagery, further evidenced by their appearance as the main musical guests on  The Late Show with Stephen Colbert  on October 30, 2015, during a Halloween-themed episode. This was Ghost's first live television appearance in the United States.

Chicago heavy metal-themed restaurant Kuma's Corner added a hamburger called " The Ghost " to its menu in tribute to Ghost. Its recipe includes goat shoulder, red wine reduction, and a communion wafer. Local Catholic institutions have called the burger "tasteless" and demanded Kuma's Corner to remove it from the menu. The restaurant's owner acknowledged the controversy and stated they respected religion while refusing to remove the burger, citing the First Amendment. To demonstrate his respect for opposing views, he also donated $1,500 to Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese. .

Awards and nominations [ ]

Grammis Awards [2]

Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards [3]

Loudwire Music Awards

P3 Guld Awards

Bandit Rock Awards

Grammy Awards

Tourography [ ]

For a listing of Ghost's Ritual tours, please see main article: Tourography .

  • All incarnations of Papa Emeritus , including Cardinal Copia, have been portrayed by Tobias Forge .

References [ ]

  • ↑ Official Ghost Ask Me Anything - Reddit
  • ↑ Grammis on Wikipedia
  • ↑ Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards on Wikipedia
  • ↑ Best Live Act of 2013 – 3rd Annual Loudwire Music Awards
  • ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 " VIDEO: Ghost perform at Sweden’s Bandit Rock Awards ". Hennemusic . February 8, 2016
  • ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 " Alla vinnare i Bandit Rock Awards 2017! " (in Swedish) I Like Radio . January 18, 2017
  • ↑ 7.0 7.1 " Bandit Rock Awards 2019 – D-A-D avslutade galan med fullt set i högform " (in Swedish). RockBladet . February 19, 2019
  • ↑ 58th Annual Grammy Awards on Wikipedia
  • 1 Nameless Ghouls
  • 2 Nameless Ghoul (Sodo)

See Ghost Throwback to 1969 First Show in New "Mary on a Cross" Video

Order Ghost's Seven Inches of Satanic Panic EP on new, limited-edition purple vinyl at Revolver's shop .

In a fittingly strange turn of events, Ghost 's most popular song now is "Mary on a Cross." The occult-rock band's 2019 psychedelic bop — featured on their Seven Inches of Satanic Panic EP — served as the soundtrack for a viral Stranger Things TikTok over the summer, and since then it's become a streaming sensation. It's currently their most frequently played song on Spotify, and even hit the Billboard Hot 100 singles list.

Today (December 14th), to celebrate the song's surprise success, as well as Seven Inches of Satanic Panic' s vinyl repressing, Ghost have offered up a new lyric video for the smash single, which taps into the lore behind the original EP.

As the story goes, back in the summer of '69, an up-and-coming band called Ghost, fronted by Papa Nihil, played its first date at The Whiskey A Go-Go on Hollywood's Sunset Strip. The show was to celebrate Ghost's first release on Galaxy Recordings, Seven Inches of Satanic Panic , a double-A-side 7-inch single featuring "Kiss the Go-Goat" and, of course, "Mary on a Cross." This original Ghost lineup eventually disbanded, and the single, its original tapes and the band's only promo and live performance of "Kiss the Go-Goat" ever filmed, were lost — that is until 2019, when the songs and the Super 8 footage were discovered and resurrected.

The new "Mary on a Cross" lyric video culls some of that vintage footage, newly unearthed. Watch above.

sleep token 2023 live PROMO adamross williams, Adamross Williams

30 best albums of 2023

Spiritbox 2023 press pic with bassist 1600x900, Jonathan Weiner

GHOST, SLIPKNOT, SPIRITBOX, more nominated...

ghost 2023 PROMO live, Instagram @thebandghost

Did PAPA EMERITUS IV play his final GHOST...

Type O negative world coming down era 1600x900, Stephanie Cabral

13 great albums turning 25 in 2024

converge 2009 GETTY LIVE, Mick Hutson/Redferns

CONVERGE's Jacob Bannon breaks down favorite songs on 'Axe to Fall'

METALLICA 2984 getty, Pete Cronin/Redferns

METALLICA 'Kill 'Em All': 10 wild stories behind all-time thrash classic

staind MIKE mushok GETTY 2019, Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic

Staind's Mike Mushok: My 5 Favorite Songs to Play Live

maynard james keenan tool

MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN picks best A PERFECT CIRCLE song for introducing new fans

underoath 2008 GETTY LIVE, Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

Underoath Albums Ranked: From Worst to Best

lajon witherspoon sevendust GETTY live 3, Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

LAJON WITHERSPOON picks SEVENDUST song he's proudest of

avenged sevenfold m shadows GETTY, Jo Hale/Getty Images

55 Most Anticipated Albums of 2023

The story behind every cover version on Ghost’s new Phantomime EP

Everything you need to know about Ghost’s covers of classics by Iron Maiden, Genesis and Tina Turner

Ghost’s Tobias Forge, Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris and Tina Turner and Mel Gibson

Ghost have always had a thing for covers, as well as following up their full-length albums (since 2013’s Infestissumam at least) with release-valve EPs. They’ve previously recorded songs by rock and pop megastars like Metallica , ABBA and The Beatles, as well as more cult acts like Swedish rockers Imperiet and former 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson.

Now they’ve released a full covers EP titled Phantomime . The likes of Genesis, Iron Maiden and Tina Turner might make for strange bedfellows but once more provide a peek into the influences that helped shape Ghost and their iconic mainman Tobias Forge. Here’s what you need to know about every song on Phantomime …

See No Evil (originally by Television)

New York’s Television are often cited as one of the bands that served as punk rock progenitors in the early to mid-70s. They certainly had a raw live presence and were instrumental in convincing Hilly Kristal, the owner of the CBGB nightclub, to let it morph into the punk haven and breeding ground it became. ‘But Ghost aren’t punk!’ we hear you cry. And neither, really, were Television. By the time they released debut album Marquee Moon in 1977, the Sex Pistols were poised to unleash anarchy in the UK, ushering in a welter of sweary and unrefined 3-chord oiks. Television, meanwhile, traded on comparative complexity, poetic vision and the wonderful melodic interplay between frontman and guitarist Tom Verlaine and fellow six-stringer Richard Lloyd.

Speaking of the writing of See No Evil, Lloyd told journalist Damian Love: “Take my part out, all you’ve got is, ‘ duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh …’ The thing is, I don’t get any songwriting credit. But I was willing to give that up for the sake of the band. We had arguments about it, for a couple of years. But Tom can be very stubborn, very willful, very paranoid, and there’s just no fighting it.” Whatever the origin of the song, it served as a wonderfully addictive album opener and introduction to the band. With its wiry energy, sinuous melodies and Verlaine’s lyrical take on self-destructive urges, it fits right into the Ghost ethos.

Jesus He Knows Me (originally by Genesis)

The polished and poppy Phil Collins-led Genesis of the 1980s and beyond was a far cry from the experimental prog-rockers that had emerged in the previous decade. They still had the odd barb though and showed it on Jesus He Knows Me , which featured on their 1991 album We Can't Dance and released as a single the following year. Far from being a religious song, it skewered the then burgeoning phenomenon of televangelism during a period when many of its biggest name including Jimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton and Jim Bakker were under scrutiny for behaviours ranging from sex scandals and having their fingers in the till. The accompanying music video Collins as an unscrupulous televangelist trying to raise $18m over a weekend because the Lord told him to. The song reached number 20 in the UK charts and number 23 in the US.

Ghost released their own NSFW video for the cover on Easter Sunday. Forge told Australia’s The Music that the song now seems relevant again in a way it didn’t when Ghost first started touring a decade or so ago. “It’s frighteningly horrible. It’s easy not to laugh about the accuracy in which Phil Collins wrote a lyric that ten years ago felt almost dated, even outdated, which now feels so contemporary and important,” he said.

Hanging Around (originally by The Stranglers)

Hanging Around by UK punks The Stranglers is another song mixing religion with tongue-in-cheek humour, which is very much up Ghost’s nave. The song rides Jean-Jacques Burnel’s pulsing bass riff and Dave Greenfield’s distinctive swathes of organ while the lyrics detail some of the characters who used to hang around the clubs the band played in. The chorus, meanwhile, features the lines: ‘ Christ he told his mother/ Christ he told her not to bother/ Cos he's alright in the city/ Cos he's high above the ground/ He's just hanging around.’

In the book The Stranglers: Song By Song , frontman Hugh Cornwell explained: “The title of the song reminded me of a joke I'd heard, which I thought was funny. What a great way to spend Easter, hanging around on a cross. It's very flippant. I find that references to God and Christ are very emotive. For a long period of time I loved hanging around churches. There's something fascinating about the power of religious belief. I'm not necessarily a very religious person, but I'm fascinated by the regalia and everything connected with it. I love using references to religion in the creative process because it's so emotive and controversial. You get people who strongly believe and equally strident non-believers."

Phantom Of The Opera (originally by Iron Maiden)

The centrepiece of Iron Maiden’s 1980 debut album , Phantom Of The Opera was the first of many Iron Maiden epics, clocking in at 7 minutes-plus and featuring a multi-tempo structure that bassist and writer Steve Harris assembled section by section. It was also the first of many Harris compositions inspired by literary and historical figures, based as it was on the 1911 novel of the same name by French author Gaston Leroux.

It could apparently have sounded quite different. Former guitarist Dennis Stratton told Rock Candy that at one point he added “a load of harmony guitars and falsetto vocals to our basic recording”. He continued: "But when we were listening back to the track [manager] Rod Smallwood came up behind me in the control room. I didn't know he was there and at the end of the song he said, 'You can get rid of all that. It sounds like fucking Queen.' So it never made the cut.”

We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) (originally by Tina Turner)

We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) was written by songwriting duo Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, who had previously provided US singer Tina Turner with another huge hit in What's Love Got to Do with It. It appeared in the 1985 film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which starred Mel Gibson as the titular Max and Turner as Aunty Entity – the ruler of a post-Apocalyptic town. The Thunderdome of the title, incidentally, was a gladiatorial arena in which combatants fought to the death.

The music featured the singer in her character’s chain mail gown, although she told Q that "Aunty Entity was not as fierce as I wanted her to be”. She continued: "I wanted her to go back into the trunk and pull out the clothes that she was wearing when she built that city, because she built herself up from nothing and she definitely wasn't wearing that chain dress and those high-heeled shoes."

Bonus trivia: the song also features a choir from King's House School in Richmond, London. One of the young choristers was future England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio.

Metal Hammer Newsletter

Sign up below to get the latest from Metal Hammer, plus exclusive special offers, direct to your inbox!

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer . 

"I'm the flash in the middle": All 57 Bon Scott AC/DC songs ranked in order of greatness

“If one person deserves a knighthood, it’s Ozzy Osbourne”: Judas Priest’s Rob Halford urges King Charles to knight the Prince Of Darkness

“I’m a believer in things happening for a reason. If I had become a huge star then I may not be alive today”: how cult 70s soft rockers Desmond Child & Rouge launched the career of a songwriting superstar

Most Popular

By Rich Hobson 27 January 2024

By Malcolm Dome 27 January 2024

By Rich Hobson 26 January 2024

By Jerry Ewing 26 January 2024

By Merlin Alderslade 26 January 2024

By Thea de Gallier 26 January 2024

By Kris Needs 26 January 2024

By Max Bell 26 January 2024

By Ian Fortnam 26 January 2024

By Paul Brannigan 25 January 2024

story of ghost band

Ghost (III)

IMDbPro Starmeter See rank


  • 2 wins & 4 nominations


  • Soundtrack ("Hunter's Moon")

Ghost: He Is (2017)

  • Soundtrack ("Cirice")

Metal Myths: Ghost Pt. 2 (2022)

  • Composer (original music by)

Liz Fenning and Justin Andrews in Ghost: Chapter Eight: Kiss the Go-Goat (2019)

  • story (uncredited)

Personal details

  • Apple Music

Did you know

Related news, contribute to this page.

  • Learn more about contributing

More to explore

Editorial Image

Add demo reel with IMDbPro

Demo reel thumbnail

How much have you seen?

Production art

Recently viewed

Complete List Of Ghost Band Members

Ghost Band Members

Feature Photo: Milan Risky / Shutterstock.com

Ghost is a Swedish rock band formed in 2006 in Linköping, Sweden. Known for its unique theatrical stage presence and anonymous identities, the band’s members traditionally perform under the guise of the Nameless Ghouls and are led by a character known as Papa Emeritus. Ghost has released several albums since their inception, achieving significant chart success and receiving various awards, including a Grammy. Their music, a blend of heavy metal, rock, and pop with lyrical themes often revolving around Satanism and horror, has garnered a diverse fanbase and critical acclaim.

Tobias Forge

Tobias Forge, the band’s founder, is the creative force behind Ghost, performing as Papa Emeritus and later as Cardinal Copia. Forge has been with the band since its formation in 2006 and remains its most prominent member. He is involved in the band’s songwriting, vocals, and conceptual direction. Forge’s contributions are evident on all of Ghost’s albums, including Opus Eponymous , Infestissumam , Meliora , Prequelle , and Impera . Outside Ghost, Forge has a history with other bands, including Repugnant and Crashdïet, contributing to his broad musical expertise and influence in the rock and metal scenes.

Nameless Ghouls

The Nameless Ghouls, representing the anonymous members of Ghost, have been a constant presence in the band. Each Ghoul is distinguished by their instrumental role, with the line-up typically including lead guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and rhythm guitar. The identities of these members have often been kept secret, contributing to the band’s mystique. Over the years, several musicians have donned the Ghoul masks, contributing to various albums and tours. These Ghouls have played integral roles in the band’s studio recordings and live performances, each bringing their unique style and musicianship to Ghost’s evolving sound.

Martin Persner

Martin Persner, a former Nameless Ghoul, was with Ghost from 2010 to 2016. He contributed significantly to the guitar work on the band’s early albums, including Opus Eponymous and Infestissumam . Persner’s guitar playing was crucial in shaping the band’s sound during its formative years. After leaving Ghost, Persner revealed his identity and focused on his other musical project, Magna Carta Cartel, where he continues to explore his musical talents.

Simon Söderberg

Simon Söderberg, another former Nameless Ghoul, played a key role in Ghost’s guitar sections from the band’s early days until 2016. He contributed to the albums Opus Eponymous , Infestissumam , and Meliora . Söderberg’s departure from the band led him to pursue other musical endeavors, including work with the band Priest, further showcasing his versatility as a musician.

Mauro Rubino

Mauro Rubino served as a Nameless Ghoul on keyboards from around 2011 to 2016. His contributions are heard on Infestissumam and Meliora , where his keyboard playing added a distinct atmospheric layer to Ghost’s sound. Following his time with Ghost, Rubino continued to pursue musical projects, demonstrating his skills in various genres.

Henrik Palm

Henrik Palm, another former Nameless Ghoul, was part of Ghost primarily as a guitarist. His tenure with the band, though relatively brief, saw him contributing to live performances and possibly to some studio recordings. Palm’s post-Ghost career has included solo work, where he explores a range of musical styles, showcasing his broad artistic capabilities.

Megan Thomas

Megan Thomas, one of the more recent members, joined Ghost as a Nameless Ghoul on bass. Her presence in the band marked a new era in Ghost’s history, bringing fresh energy and style to their music and live performances. Thomas’ involvement in the music industry outside Ghost includes collaborations with various artists, highlighting her versatility as a bassist.

Complete List Of Ghost Band Members article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either supplied by the artists, public domain Creative Commons photos, or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. 

DMCA.com Protection Status

Related Posts

Complete List Of Kiss Band Members

Complete List Of Kiss Band Members

Complete List Of Telsa Band Members

Complete List Of Telsa Band Members

Complete List Of Pink Floyd Band Members

Complete List Of Pink Floyd Band Members

Complete List Of Queen Band Members

Complete List Of Queen Band Members

Complete List Of Limp Bizkit Band Members

Complete List Of Limp Bizkit Band Members

Complete List Of Foreigner Band Members

Complete List Of Foreigner Band Members

About the author.

Janey Roberts

Janey Roberts

Janey Roberts lives in Chelsea, London. She has worked for various British musical publications writing album and concert reviews. Originally from Balboa Park, San Diego, Janey brings an international cross cultural perspective to rock journalism.

Add Comment Cancel Reply

 Yes, add me to your mailing list

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

The Monkees songs


  1. The reinvention of live music: The story of Ghost

    story of ghost band

  2. Swedish band Ghost finds itself with ‘big boys and girls’

    story of ghost band

  3. Band Ghost

    story of ghost band

  4. Ghost Band 2020: Videos, Live Photos, Biography

    story of ghost band

  5. Ghost is the smartest band in the world

    story of ghost band

  6. Ghost Band 2020: Videos, Live Photos, Biography

    story of ghost band


  1. Ghost: The True Story of Death, Religion and Rock & Roll ...

    Ghost: The True Story of Death, Religion and Rock & Roll Behind Metal's Strangest Band | Revolver Ghost: The True Story of Death, Religion and Rock & Roll Behind Metal's Strangest Band Mastermind Tobias Forge opens up in most revealing and personal interview yet Ghost's Cardinal Copia, Los Angeles, 2018 photograph by Nick Fancher text J. Bennett

  2. Ghost Facts: 10 Things You Need To Know

    The Satanic cult Religious imagery and satanism have forever been intertwined with heavy metal music; genre pioneers Black Sabbath were masters of marrying the two. But Ghost takes the construct...

  3. Ghost (Swedish band)

    History Formation and Opus Eponymous (2006-2011) Ghost live at Malmöfestivalen 2011 Ghost was formed in 2006, when future band leader Tobias Forge wrote the song "Stand by Him". [6] He said, "I said that this is probably the most heavy metal riff that has ever existed ... When the chorus came to me, it haunted my dreams.

  4. The Untold Truth Of Ghost, The Swedish Rock Band

    The Satanic Swedish metal band Ghost has been producing synthy, melodic anthems with witty lyrics since 2006. The band's videos and performances are theatrical and intentionally over the top, featuring an almost anonymous masked band and a frontman dressed as an occult pope with skeletal face paint.

  5. Ghost (Lore)

    According to the lore, The Ministry of Ghost created the band as they believed the medium of rock music was the perfect way to spread their unholy message to the world, a motive that is referential of rock music related satanic panic that was prevalent in America during the 80's. Trivia

  6. Ghost band: The definitive guide to every member of the Ghost universe

    Ghost have long been shrouded in mysterious shenanigans. As well as the largely anonymous Nameless Ghouls that make up the bulk of the band, with each passing album, Ghost mastermind Tobias Forge has introduced a ghastly lead character to front the fold, starting back in 2010 with Papa Emeritus I for debut album Opus Eponymous.

  7. Every Member Of Ghost Explained

    Ghost is not just a metal band — they are an entire phantasmagoria, haunted by the lore and rumors dreamed up by their lead singer and mastermind, Tobias Forge. Forge, who grew up in Linköping, Sweden, took on his brother's obsession with rock and amassed an enviable collection of metal magazines before he was 10 (via Los Angeles Times ).

  8. How Swedish band Ghost conquered heavy metal and the charts

    How Ghost — 'an occult, pop, satanic sort of rock 'n' roll band' — conquered metal and the charts. Tobias Forge, a.k.a. Papa Emeritus IV, center, leads the Swedish heavy metal band ...

  9. A Brief History of Ghost

    Step into the eerie realm of Ghost, the enigmatic Swedish rock band that has taken the world by storm. Join me on a captivating journey through their mysteri...

  10. Ghost

    Official website for the band Ghost. Stay up to date with News, Tour Dates and more.

  11. Ghost's Opus Eponymous: the story behind the album

    The band left Rise Above for Universal Records subsidiaries Loma Vista in the US and Spinefarm in the UK, who released their second album, Infestissumam, in 2013. By the end of the decade, Ghost had released two more albums, notching up a Top 10 record on both sides of the Atlantic with 2018's Prequelle. Papa Emeritus, the all-knowing, all ...

  12. The reinvention of live music: The story of Ghost

    Ghost, a Swedish psychedelic rock/heavy metal band, came onto the scene in 2010 when they released their debut album "Opus Eponymous." Over the years their popularity has skyrocketed. In 2016, they won their first Grammy for Best Metal Performance. In 2019, they were nominated for two more Grammys: Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song.

  13. Why Ghost are the biggest Satanic band on the planet

    This eight-piece metal band began in 2006 in the small, lakeside cathedral city of Linkoping in southern Sweden. Theatre enthusiast and songwriter Tobias Forge had been cutting his teeth in local...

  14. Ghost Is the 2022 Artist of the Year

    Kevin Wilson. Ghost is Loudwire's pick for the 2022 Artist of the Year. Tobias Forge joined us for an exclusive interview to discuss the band's fifth album, Impera, his decision to reveal his ...


    HISTORY OF GHOST 👻 Top Metal 16.4K subscribers Subscribe 7.2K 282K views 1 year ago I really hope you will fall in love of that band as much as me by discovering their long and interesting...

  16. Ghost

    The Band The Others Live Ghost Sign in to edit Ghost IMPERA Prequelle Meliora Infestissumam Opus Eponymous Background Information Origin Linköping, Sweden Genres Heavy metal, doom metal, hard rock, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, occult rock Years active 2006-present Labels

  17. Ghost: The Story So Far (2022 Documentary)

    Ghost: The Story So Far (2022 Documentary) Raz Ben Ari 35K subscribers Subscribe 769K views 10 months ago In this episode, we looked into the anonymous band that resurrected the tunes of old,...

  18. See Ghost Throwback to 1969 First Show in New "Mary on a ...

    As the story goes, back in the summer of '69, an up-and-coming band called Ghost, fronted by Papa Nihil, played its first date at The Whiskey A Go-Go on Hollywood's Sunset Strip. The show was to celebrate Ghost's first release on Galaxy Recordings, Seven Inches of Satanic Panic, a double-A-side 7-inch single featuring "Kiss the Go-Goat" and, of ...

  19. The story behind every cover version on Ghost's new Phantomime EP

    The song reached number 20 in the UK charts and number 23 in the US. Ghost released their own NSFW video for the cover on Easter Sunday. Forge told Australia's The Music that the song now seems relevant again in a way it didn't when Ghost first started touring a decade or so ago. "It's frighteningly horrible.

  20. Ghost

    Ghost. Soundtrack: Halloween Kills. Ghost is a Swedish rock band that was formed in Linköping, Sweden in 2006. 2010, they released their debut full-length album Opus Eponymous. The Grammis-nominated album was widely praised and significantly increased their popularity. Their second album and major label debut Infestissumam was released in 2013, debuted at number one in Sweden, and won the ...

  21. Ghost

    GHOST continues to elevate & reaffirm its status as one of the world's most esteemed & celebrated creative forces. Accumulating well over a billion streams, the GRAMMY-winning Swedish theatrical ...

  22. Complete List Of Ghost Band Members

    Ghost is a Swedish rock band formed in 2006 in Linköping, Sweden. Known for its unique theatrical stage presence and anonymous identities, the band's members traditionally perform under the guise of the Nameless Ghouls and are led by a character known as Papa Emeritus. Ghost has released several albums since their inception, achieving ...

  23. Ghost's Real Story Is More Complex Than You Realized

    And you thought the papacy had a difficult lineage and plenty of lore. Wait until you get into the history of Ghost.#Ghost #Music #RockWorking in a call cent...

  24. Can Metal Band Ghost Tie Black Sabbath And Slayer With Another ...

    With a second Best Metal Performance Grammy to their credit, Ghost would tie with Black Sabbath, that band's vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer, and Nine Inch Nails. All of those bands have earned ...