Ghost is a Swedish heavy metal band that was formed in Linköping, Sweden in 2006. In 2010, they released a 3-track demo followed by a 7" vinyl titled "Elizabeth", and later 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 Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album. The band released their third studio album, Meliora, in 2015, to much critical acclaim and high record sales, reaching number one in their home country of Sweden, and number eight in the United States. Its lead single, "Cirice", earned them the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. The band released their fourth studio album, Prequelle, in 2018.
Ghost is easily recognizable owing greatly to its eccentric on-stage presence. Five of the group's six members, its 'Nameless Ghouls,' wear virtually identical, face-concealing costumes. Prior to a 2017 lawsuit filed by former members of the band, lead singer Tobias Forge obscured his identity behind the character "Papa Emeritus." The character, which consists of Forge in a prosthetic mask and makeup can be best described as a 'demonic anti-pope.' The Papa Emeritus Character has gone through four incarnations - I, II, III, and Nihil. As of the 2018 album Prequelle and subsequent world tour, Forge portrays a character known as "Cardinal Copia," who is described as being unrelated to any of the Papa Emeritus characters and whose costume consists of either Cardinal vestments or a black tuxedo alongside a prosthetic mask with black eyemakeup and the multi-colored eyes which had been present in each Papa character.
A Nameless Ghoul said that Ghost formed in 2006, when the members were in another band together and he played a riff that would become "Stand By Him" to them. 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.
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 Marionette". During the same show, they introduced Papa Emeritus II as the successor to the band's frontman Papa Emeritus—believed to be the same person simply playing a new character. 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 a name change to "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.
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 mitre, 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.
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 album was titled Prequelle, and it was released on 1 June, 2018. A second song from the new album, 'Dance Macabre' was initially released on the band's instagram stories but later that day was made available for streaming in its entirety on 17 May, 2018.
To promote the album, Ghost began the Rats! On The Road tour in the United States which ran from May 5 until June 1. The band will be an opening act for Guns N' Roses in Oslo, Norway this July 19, 2018.
Ghost will begin A Pale Tour Named Death in North America this late October, featuring two headlining arena shows in Los Angeles and New York City.
• Tobias Forge – vocals (2008–present)
o Papa Emeritus – vocals (2008–2012)
o Papa Emeritus II – vocals (2012–2015)
o Papa Emeritus III – vocals (2015–2017)
o Cardinal Copia – vocals (2018–present)
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.
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 0, to the stage to introduce the band's next chapter. Papa Emeritus 0 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 that features a character, implied to be Papa Emeritus IV, listening to Ceremony and Devotion 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. A video showed that Papa Emeritus one through three had been killed and their bodies embalmed. In an interview the following month, Forge stated that unlike Ghost's previous frontmen, Cardinal Copia is planned to be around for about five years.
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 the merchandise by stamping their individual alchemical symbol, while Papa Emeritus signs with his stage name or the letters "P.E." 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."
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." Only 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."
(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.
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.
• Opus Eponymous (2010)
• Infestissumam (2013)
• Meliora (2015)
• Prequelle (2018)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Ghost in the news
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