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Grammy-winning metal band Ghost addresses 'satanic' accusations: 'There are other music styles that promote a way worse lifestyle'
The swedish shock-rock saviors' flamboyant frontman believes that “dark music, everything from gothic to death metal and black metal and hardcore” is a source of celebration and even salvation..
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Over the past decade, bombastic, theatric, operatic metal Swedes have become unlikely mainstream rock stars. They won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 2016 and have scored three nominations since then, most recently for "Call Me Little Sunshine" off their 2022 studio LP, Impera. That ambitious 12-song cycle — despite being a seemingly willfully uncommercial concept album about "demigod worship" and "the unescapable fails and falls of empires" after the Black Plague, and boasting Aleister Crowley-inspired cover art — managed to yield the band's first Hot 100 single, “Mary on a Cross,” and debut at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Impera also won two big fan-voted honors, Favorite Rock Album at the American Music Awards and Best Rock Album of the Year at the iHeart Radio Music Awards. And among Ghost's biggest fans is Def Leppard's Joe Elliott, who in a torch-passing moment contributed guest vocals to a new version of the Impera anthem " Spillways " earlier this year.
But not everyone’s a fan. “We obviously are a polarizing band,” Ghost’s fearless leader Tobias Forge — alternately known as the diabolical priest character Papa Emeritus or Papa’s panda-eyed successors, Cardinal Copia and now the Impera -era Papa Emeritus IV — tells Yahoo Entertainment.
Although Ghost’s over-the-top, presumably tongue-in-greasepainted-cheek satanic imagery has always drawn detractors, as their fame has grown, so have protests targeting the band — including a bizarre one that took place in Midland, Texas, and made international headlines, during Ghost’s “A Pale Tour Named Death” U.S. arena trek.
In November 2018, Larry Long, the pastor of the Fellowship Community Church, said Midland needed to be protected from the supposedly devil-worshiping group, warning a local CBS affiliate, “This kind of band will bring spiritual influences into this area. We’re concerned about it, because we believe the devil is real, just as we believe God is real. … I think if [young fans are] singing along to those lyrics, who knows what in the world they’re opening their hearts and lives up to?”
Ghost’s Midland show went on as planned — and of course, the church's stunt only raised Ghost's profile in the United States. “At the end of the day, what [the Fellowship Community Church] caused was more tickets sold. So, thank you very much,” Forge chuckles.
Still, although Forge says such outrage is “to an extent, amusing,” he adds, “To a greater extent, I think it’s sad . … I find it saddening thinking that there are people who don’t know f***ing bad from good and shit from Shinola. I find it saddening that people would choose to stand out in the cold [protesting Ghost], thinking that they’re making a difference. I think it’s sad that people are wasting their time thinking that we’re bad for people, when actually what we’re really trying to do is make people happy and make people feel good about themselves when they come to our show and have a good time.”
Although certain PMRC-baiting shock-rockers that paved the way for Ghost — Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Judas Priest — have been accused of encouraging suicidal or homicidal tendencies among impressionable fans, Forge believes that “dark music, everything from gothic to death metal and black metal and hardcore” can, on the contrary, be a source of celebration and even salvation.
“There are definitely rock fans over the years that have done negative things toward each other and or towards themselves, but I don’t think that’s because of the music . That’s because they were in a bad place in their lives,” the good Papa stresses. “Actually, it might have even been the music that made them live so long, that kept them going. Hard rock, in general, does not promote that you should harm anyone. I definitely think there are other music styles that promote a way worse lifestyle, that you could look upon as being more negative. [Pop] music styles that promote a way of living that their fans will never have — when music is all about ‘making it’ and wearing ‘bling-bling’ and ‘all them bitches,’ and the idea that without that stuff you’re nothing — that is a bad influence for your fans. At least with most gothic or hard rock music, it’s about feeling good about yourself.”
Forge instead sees Ghost as following in tradition of “the big shock-rock bands of 1984” that his much older, punk-rocker brother introduced him to when he was growing up in a liberal, pop-culture-savvy home in Linköping, Sweden. “The artists I immediately grasped onto were when I was 3 years old,” Forge recalls. “[Mötley Crüe’s] Shout at the Devil , [Twisted Sister’s] Stay Hungry , KISS, stuff like that. My brother was so nice and just passed those records on to me, like, ‘Here, you’ll like this more.’ I played them all the time. Then it just blossomed from there.”
Now Ghost is being heralded as the imagination-sparking band serving the same purpose for today’s rock-starved youth. “I do believe that there is a glimmer of hope in what we do with regards to the fact that there are a lot of kids coming to our shows. We are the first band that they see live. That is a really good thing, thinking long-term,” Forge muses. “I don’t mind being that glimmer of hope. I do believe that the more exposure we get, the more time that we spend in people’s ears, I hope that the interest in analog rock will be kept alive or awoken or might find a way into kids of today. I guess we could be a little bit [for today’s young fans] what KISS was in the ’70s.”
That being said, Forge is reluctant to accept the pro-Ghost media’s proclamations that Ghost are the reigning saviors of rock ‘n’ roll. “I’d love for the mainstream music climate to steer back towards rock, and I’m sure it will at some point. But does that mean there will be image-driven shock-rock bands, as far as a movement? I don’t know,” he says. “I do believe that the rock bands that will be big in the future are the ones that are being formed by kids, the 18-year-olds, today, right now. They are the ones that will rock the future, because that’s how it always is. The bands that will be big in five or 10 years, when there might be a big domination of rock again, will be bands that we most likely don’t know as of right now.”
But those bands, as Forge hints, may very well be Ghost disciples, because today’s kids, despite the handwringing of concerned conservatives like Long, are loving Ghost’s epic live shows on their current "Re-Imperatour" — in which a Pope-robed Papa IV, flanked by Victorian-jacketed, steampunk-helmeted, and occasionally keytar-wielding Nameless Ghouls, performs dystopian anthems like "Imperium," "Rats," "From the Pinnacle to the Pit," "Year Zero," "Mummy Dust," and "Dance Macabre” in a rock ‘n’ roll church bedecked with inverted crosses.
As the tour climaxes next week with two shows at Los Angeles's Forum , the nearby Grammy Museum will even launch the Ghost Devotional Pop-Up for the band's especially faithful flock — complete with confession booth where fans are encouraged to "bare their souls about why they think Ghost are the best rock band in the world!" Ghost's imagery and themes may be alarming to some, but it seems the rock kids understand.
“The biggest misconception [about Ghost] is that the lyrical content is being provocative because it’s about God. And it’s not. It’s not about God at all,” insists Forge. “It’s about man , mankind. I use language and analogy to make it seem that it is about other things, but the songs are usually, they are about very real things. Sometimes I think it’s almost laughable to the point of annoying that protesters are just picking up on the literal meaning.
“There are many misconceptions about who I am or how I think, and of course it’s annoying. But that is just part of being in a band nowadays. If I didn’t want any of this, I shouldn’t be in a band. But I want to do this. I want to rock.”
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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 ). 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.
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By Zoe Camp
June 7, 2018
Call it the Daft Punk Principle: No matter how far they go to keep their true identities under wraps, a band of pseudonymous alter egos will eventually get unmasked—by the press, by their fans, or even by their own volition. So it has gone with Ghost . The Swedish rockers’ Catholic-inspired cosplay shtick finally unraveled in the courts last year, amid a royalties dispute between the group’s zombie-pope figurehead, Papa Emeritus (né Tobias Forge), and his band of chrome-masked sidemen, known as “Nameless Ghouls.” The biggest bombshell fell out of court, when Forge revealed to Radio Metal that he and the Ghouls had never been a group in the traditional sense. He went on to compare Ghost to pioneering black-metal act Bathory, who performed as a band but were essentially a solo outlet for multi-instrumentalist Tomas Börje “Quorthon” Forsberg.
His identity as Ghost’s architect revealed, Forge stood at the same crossroads where Kiss once found themselves. Would he stick to the outlandish personas and sepulchral faux communions for which he was known? Or would he prioritize songwriting over theatrics, ditching his papal roleplaying for a more straightforward sacrament? On Ghost’s explosive fourth album, Prequelle , the Swede straddles both paths, spiking the band’s old ornate style with youthful vigor.
Rather than reprising his role as Papa Emeritus, Forge has stepped into the Sunday shoes of one Cardinal Copia, a sprightly, pale-faced clergyman who rolls his R’s like Spanish royalty and carries a boombox wherever he goes. His gleeful, “Thriller”-esque choreography in the music video for “Rats,” Prequelle ’s fist-pumping first single, epitomizes the record and the paradigm shift it heralds: As Forge pirouettes his way through the burning, rodent-infested streets like a vampiric Gene Kelly, Ghost’s old solemnity fades away, revealing an easily accessible dark comedy that proves immensely fun despite its flaws.
A concept album loosely centered around the Black Plague, Prequelle bridges the classic rock of Ghost’s most recent full-length—2015’s Grammy-winning Meliora —and the disco flirtations of 2016’s Popestar , an EP of covers that reinterpreted non-metal songs by Eurythmics , Echo and the Bunnymen , and more. But the second style predominates, with producer Tom Dalgety shoving proggy keyboard lines to the fore on songs like the ELO -tinged instrumental “Miasma” and “Pro Memoria,” a soaring reflection on mortality undercut by some of Ghost’s laziest lyrics to date (“Don’t you forget about dying/Don’t you forget about your friend death/Don’t you forget that you will die”). With its ham-fisted wordplay (“I wanna be/Wanna bewitch you in the moonlight,” goes the chorus) and four-on-the-floor rhythms, the album’s ABBA -worshiping centerpiece “Dance Macabre” is even goofy by Ghost’s standards—but it’s damn hard not to nod along with it.
Prequelle is not entirely devoid of raw power. “Rats” and “Witch Image” get their strength from smoldering licks and stacked harmonies plucked from the Ozzy Osbourne playbook, providing metalheads with a welcome break from all the mid-tempo durdling. Given the unremarkable tracks that follow it—particularly “Helvetesfönster,” an ostentatious, baroque instrumental reminiscent of Medieval Times muzak—the latter might as well be the record’s closer.
The real keeper, though, is “Faith,” a glam-rock stomper engineered for maximum impact, from the interwoven vocal arrangement (Forge’s demonic growls on the penultimate chorus deserve a shout-out of their own) down to the sidewinding solo. The unmasked Ghost’s revised approaches to dramaturgy and group dynamics don’t always sync on Prequelle , but when they do, the performance is nothing short of showstopping.
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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.
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.”
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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.
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.
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 .
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.
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How Ghost — ‘an occult, pop, satanic sort of rock ’n’ roll band’ — conquered metal and the charts
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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.”
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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.
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.”
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.
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“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.”
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.”
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Demystifying Ghost Bath, the Chinese black metal band that's not actually Chinese
If you paid attention to the indie music sphere of 2013, you would've noticed Deafheaven, a band so steeped in black metal non-conformism that no one cares anymore now that they're not wearing corpse paint, or that their frontman wears leather gloves and takes regular stage dives.
Their riveting 2013 album Sunbather was all over every music publication, and even Apple ads , at one point — it was amazing to witness the audacity this band had to make black metal music sound joyous and, hell, accessible, drawing as much praise from new fans as they did from staunch metalheads.
This relatively new sound took the emotional catharsis of black metal and washed it in a sea of guitar pedals, birthing an impenetrably melancholic sound previously exclusive to shoegaze — making music that is all at once, radiant and fatalistic.
Deafheaven weren't the first to do it — that distinction arguably goes to French art-metal band Alcest — but they defined the sound for a new crowd.
Following Deafheaven's unexpected crossover success, there was an expected wave of bands following in the band's footsteps, but more importantly, there were also hordes of listeners finding bands of a similar party. This is where Ghost Bath comes in.
The induction of Ghost Bath is an interesting, albeit clumsy, facsimile of black metal's illustrious tendency for shrouded mystery. The band presented themselves to the press as a Chinese black metal band who had their 2014 debut album, Funeral , previously released on Chinese extreme metal label, Pest Productions. They've sent out emails rife with grammatical errors, a Bandcamp page with a location of Chongqing, China, and a band photo with the Mandarin letters "无名", leading journalists to believe the band was from the mainland Asia country.
As they began the PR machine to promote their new album, Moonlover , in 2015, quick comparisons were made to Deafheaven due to their similarly hazy production, uplifting crescendos and tortured howls.
But more prominently, compared to Deafheaven's central location of sunny Los Angeles, Ghost Bath presented a wealth of fresh content for websites eager to find the next big metal crossover band — even more so when they're apparently from far away China.
The album cover for Moonlover, which features the photograph 'La Luna' by Luis Gonzalez Palma.
While writers and listeners were instantly head over heels for Moonlover , some of them became suspicious of the band's origins. Rumours spread of the band not actually being a four-piece of brooding Chinese metalheads, but the brainchild of a musician from North Dakota named Dennis Makula .
As it seemed, the idea of Ghost Bath belonging to China was part of an "attempt to bring such mystery into the band", leaving journalists and even Pest Productions to believe the illusion until cracks started to appear .
The band claims that their appropriation of Chinese imagery and language is part of their aesthetic, proclaiming China as a "land of immense beauty", and while many artists do that with reverence — UK ambient artist Hong Kong Express wonderfully delves into the recesses of 80s Hong Kong through the lens of Wong Kar Wai — Ghost Bath's approach is problematic.
To be asking, "why didn't we personally correct anything" is sort of looking at the problem wrong. There need not be a correction. Just maybe an acceptance that maybe people aren't sure of where members reside. To truly listen to Ghost Bath as intended, we must stop making associations outside of basic human existence. Maybe we aren't from where you believe. Maybe we are. — Makula on why he did not correct journalists on the band's true place of origin, in an extensive feature by Noisey .
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter that the band actually doesn't sing (or howl) in Chinese, or that they didn't bother to correct journalists of their proper location.
The American band's choice of using elements from Chinese culture to piece together an enigmatic, other-worldly image reeks of lazy appropriation that was either the unfortunate result of Makula's genuine fascination over the forested landscapes of China — which, otherwise, could've been translated more artfully — or a self-serving way of setting his project apart from a brigade of Deafheaven-lite projects. Either reason takes away the spotlight from the burgeoning amount of promising Chinese metal acts, especially ones on Pest Productions .
But how is the music itself? While Funeral is a rough-around-the-edges, serviceable depressive black metal album, Moonlover is indeed uncannily similar to the best of Sunbather , while it also presents a palette of unpredictable moves — ranging from moments of bursting melodies to a hardcore breakdown on 'The Silver Flower, Pt. 2', something highly unusual from most extreme metal bands.
Ghost Bath recently announced a new deal with premier metal label Nuclear Blast Entertainment, and they're going ahead with a new album amidst the controversy.
Along with the announcement, the band released a music video revealing the band's true appearances — albeit draped in celestial robes.
With their real identities somewhat disclosed and the veil fully lifted, time will tell if Ghost Bath will be recognized for their strengths as a band, or simply a theatrical farce.
Read our compact guide to the history and evolution of black metal . Stream Moonlover below :
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Ghost are, regardless of whether you're particularly into corpse painted, Satanic-inspired heavy metal, one band that you should not miss live. Their concerts are not simply events to watch but experiential, jaw-dropping journeys to embark upon, and here's why: The Swedish sextet, clad in black hooded gowns and pointed beard-masks (yes, this is a thing) are led by their singer, known as Papa Emeritus, who dons full skull make-up and the robes and hat of a Roman Catholic pope (aside from the upside-down crosses adorning them). As well as their appearances, the band add to the intoxicating atmosphere of their shows with a backdrop of faux stained glass windows, and burn incense to give the audience the impression of being in a church, about to undergo something more than simply watching a group of men play musical instruments on a stage. They achieve this by including the audience in their twisted act, for example during the song Body and Blood, scantily-clad women appeared at the front of the stage offering the 'Eucharist' of a goblet of blood (aka wine) to the lucky fans in the front row.
I saw Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring, shorty after the release of their highly anticipated second album, Infestissumam, and was, frankly, blown away by the quality of their live show. Their appearances and Satan-worshipping act are contrasted by the liveliness of their music, which while categorized as heavy or black metal, is definitely more riff and vocal-driven than most metal, with songs such as the single Monstrance Clock and even an amped-up cover of the Beatles' Here Comes The Sun as part of their catchy, dancable set.
Even if you are the biggest metal-phobe around, you should go see Ghost. If heavy metal is your jam, but you're really not into the whole make-up/ crazy outfit thing, you should go see Ghost. If you're a fan or the music but are undecided on paying for a ticket, you should most definitely go see Ghost. The entire experience is something intoxicatingly unforgettable, and you will not regret it!
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The wife and I got into the game a bit late but Ghost is as much a part of our yearly plans as is eating, sleeping, and hydrating. We were fortunate to have caught their last two rituals in Sweden last year and were able to capture video of Papa III being pulled off stage during Monstrance Clock. We were so happy that we made the trip from the states because seeing the end of Papa III in videos is nothing compared to the excitement of seeing it in person, from the barrier, and right up front. This band is very exciting to watch and being able to share the experience with my wife has made our evenings with Ghost that much better. My wife met Papa III last year and we've had the opportunity to meet Cardinal Copia 3 times this year during the meet and greets in New York and Pittsburgh. We're looking forward to meeting him again 4 more times out of the 6 rituals we'll be attending in December. We also already have our tickets and vacation planned for the 2 upcoming rituals taking place in Sweden in February 2019. When they make their way back to the states in 2019, we will begin planning our schedules around their tour dates. Here's a short back story as to why they are so important to me. My wife and I were just a couple of months away from signing the official court documents stating we were divorced. While trying to keep things amicable we would meet to discuss things and we'd often listen to Ghost. By the time they would be coming Philadelphia that year, we would have been attending as two single individuals and no longer married. We'd have fun listening to them and as that common ground grew stronger, so did we and slowly began reconciling. By the time they did come to Philadelphia that year, we attended as a happily married couple and continue to do so today. Getting my wife back, I can honestly say, is all thanks to Ghost and I couldn't be more grateful to them or happier sharing the experience with anyone else except for Kelly.
The concert at Liseberg amusement Park was amazing. They opened doors at 11:00 am and there was already like 30 people waiting for the concert impatiently. Security guards and workers of the Amusement Park were very nice and help people when there was an incident outside the park.
The concert started at 8:00 pm without any problem, the crowd went crazy when they went on stage. The setlist was the following:
- Square Hammer
- From the Pinnacle to the Pit
- Con clavi con Dio
- Per aspera ad Inferi
- Body and Blood
- Devil Church
- Year Zero
- Deus in Absentia
- Monstrance Clock.
At the end of the last show was when 2 bodyguards came on stage and dragged Papa Emeritus III from stage and Papa Emeritus Zero came in, anouncing that the party was over and a new era was about to start.
I only got into Ghost recently and caught their show last night in Toronto.
I decided to get some cheap tickets because I liked the music and thought they'd be fun to see live.
They by far exceeded anything I was expecting. The creepy church vibe, use of incense(which I have never encountered before, very nice touch!), Papa engaging the audience at every opportunity and even took a few minutes just to chit chat and kept us roaring and laughing for more. The use of costumes and masks was amazing.
Being an introvert I don't really go out much, and when I do I just kind of sit there and enjoy the music and the show. This is the first band that's made me get up from my chair and actually get into the show. Next time they come to the area, I'm definitely saving up and treating myself to WAY better seating!
Oh my Ghost, this is the live ritual gig experience your soul is crying out for. Full disclaimer: I love Ghost to bits and have been preaching my dark passion for years. Seeing them live again - this time in a bigger arena off the back of a couple more hit albums - reaffirms the faith.
Go and see Ghost and you will get a diverse setlist drawn from the band's spectacular back catalogue. You will get theatrics and pyrotechnics. You will get both humour and deep emotion, dark anthems and sublime instrumentals and an uplifting sense that you a witnessing something novel and special.
Ghost are - musically, aesthetically, spiritually - something to cherish and the live experience is one that is fun, compelling, cathartic and oh-so-damn-rock-n-roll. Go worship and have the time of your (after)life.
I can see Ghost every night and never get bored. It's not just the band and music, Tobias has created characters, including his own, for this band that are incredibly humble and patient with their fans. While the material can be considered risque, you will see children younger than 10 years old attending that are not only having the time of their lives, but participating in the meet and greets with their parents. Everything about these shows from the music, to the costumes, the characters, and the theatrics is so very much entertaining. We know as fans that there is so much more to look forward to with the future of Ghost and we'll have the opportunity to enjoy them for many more years. It is very exciting when tomorrow becomes today and you're standing in front eagerly awaiting Ashes to start.
If you have Ghost, you have everything.
Theatre; spectacle; a sense of cult worship; dark humour; thick fugs of incense; electric, otherwordly energy; lighting and atmospherics; collective frenzy; and most of all, the sweet music of the night.
Ghost are beautiful for so many reasons. Beneath their sublime subversive style - iconoclastic and gleefully irreverent - is a musical powerhouse making the most compelling and catchy rock in this epoch. The craftsmanship is incredible. The mystique is immense. It's a joy to behold in the flesh (and blood) and if you have the opportunity to absorb the spirit of Ghost in person, surrender to it.
Honestly, Ghost was one of the greatest entertainment experiences I've had. Join them in their ritual and hail your Master...
This was the best show I have ever been to (I have seen a lot too). Ghost put on an electric performance with great theatrics as well as fun conversational bits while the musicians took a couple minutes to get water, wipe the sweat off from under those masks, etc. We were also delighted by the pyrotechnics, fog machines, and surprise mummy dust confetti! Well executed and the band sounded amazing live. I wish I had gotten tickets for the following night too! I will definitely be seeing them when they come back into town. Ghost really knows how to stimulate all their fans' senses. Many thanks to the band for their commitment to their fans and the melodic tunes they share with us. Keep them coming please!!!
The Ghost show was truly amazing. For me, this was mainly due to two things:
1. Each and every member of this band knows his instrument very well, and they play their songs flawlessly and with ease. Leaving them energy to interact with the crowd while still not missing a note/beat.
2. Their concept is so well thought through. From the incense and small unveiling ritual before their set starts to the sisters of sin and perfected visual in set, movements and costumes, everything works brilliantly. And with Papa giving some background info to songs and rituals, you really get the feeling you are part of a well-oiled ritual.
I am very glad I've been to the show, and can't wait to see this band again :)
Awesome band! I had a older friend come with last night to the Stockholm show and even thou she said "It's not exactly my favourite but it was a terrific show,tunes to sing along to and this isn't the last time we do this!" with a huge smile on her face. This was my second Ritual, i love the costume changes, you really feel like your seeing a theatrical show instead of a regular concert, I'm use to sitting up front but this time sat in the balcony to see a spectacular light show and pyrotechnics, we sat in the upper balcony and could feel the heat from the pyro effects.I only wish i could have been yp front closer to Cardinal Copia,to get his blessings. Will not be the last time i go to see Ghost!
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10 albums that redefined black metal
From symphonic and blackgaze to the wider post-black metal sphere, these are the 10 albums that redefined black metal according to Ghost Bath's Dennis Mikula
Ghost Bath know a thing or two about redefining black metal . Since their formation in 2012, the band have indulged in obfuscation and stylistic variance that made pinning any one characteristic to them for any length of time largely redundant, becoming one of the most acclaimed names in post-black metal in the process. "Whenever I begin a brand-new project, I find that there's some sort of catalyst," explains guitarist/vocalist Dennis Mikula.
"[I look for] a piece of music or art that inspires me and allows me to understand that particular genre in a way I'd never thought about it before - to escape the confines of the 'box' most people define things as and to reach for new ideas, heights, and unique blends. In the case of black metal, that spark came from Agalloch's Marrow Of The Spirit . I began to think of black metal as more of a tool or medium than a set of rules I had to adhere to."
Taking this to heart, Mikula and his bandmates have blazed a path through black metal that touches in on scenes like blackgaze whilst maintaining its own sonic direction. “This is by far the best way to approach things," Mikula states. "When you are able to find the essence of a specific art, and not only the surface-level technical aspects. When you can incorporate your own unique voice and experiences and still capture the very spirit of the art medium in which you are using."
As something of an expert in the field, we asked Mikula to guide us through 10 albums that redefined black metal as a genre. "My goal with these following 10 albums is to get the reader to understand many (not all) of the directions black metal can go," he says. "You don't need to stay in the strict lanes set forth by the creators of the genre but take the atmosphere and essence of what they brought into the world and push it ever forward. Here are 10 albums that I believe will help inspire those to do so."
1. Darkthrone - Transilvanian Hunger (1994)
"Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger is the golden standard to traditional black metal in my opinion, I don't care what anyone says. Every element of this record radiates cold, dark, black metal. Pure hatred. From the lo-fi recording technique, to the pattering of the drums, this record is atmosphere to its maximum potential. Yes, this is probably the most difficult album on my list for people who are not yet into black metal to get into, but my theory is that it is done so well, that if someone checks it out and enjoys it, they can know-full well that black metal is definitely for them. More of a hit-over-the-head-with-a-hammer technique than one that eases you into it. Some techniques are more effective with certain people."
2. Agalloch - The Mantle (2002)
"A snow-covered forest, flurries of snowflakes fall around you. Like a lot of albums on this list, The Mantle melds multiple genres together with black metal making it one of the best gateway albums into the genre. This album should appeal to fans of post-metal like Envy, Explosions In The Sky, or anything with a "wall-of-sound" feel. It uses heavy melody in conjunction with black metal style vocals and blast beats. It could also serve as a pathway into a more specific region of black metal from the pacific northwest if you enjoy what is created here. If you like acoustic guitar, nature, sweeping melodies, and vast contrast but with a bit of a black edge to it, this may be the album for you."
3. Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestial Lineage (2011)
"Wolves In The Throne Room's Celestial Lineage is for those who like a slow burn. Those who want to be taken on a journey and don't mind landscapes of sound to build themselves over the course of a lengthy track. It is among the most ‘black’ of the albums I've suggested, although it shares the label of Cascadian black metal like Agalloch. It takes its time with every idea, even more so than Agalloch, and seeps in slowly rather than in quick rushes. Parts of it give a very hypnotic feel, that I find to be a staple of most black metal. But the most important thing to take away from this one is the thick atmosphere. As with all good black metal, the atmosphere is focused on more than any other aspect."
4. Aquilus - Griseus (2011)
" Symphonic black metal from...well, Australia. I'm not sure what it is about Australia and the US, but I believe these two countries have taken a genre that began in Europe and mixed it with enough outside influence, that they create music that could lead one into the more traditional stuff...eventually. I've never been more fascinated with symphonic metal as I have with this Aquilus record. It is grand. Majestic. And beautiful. I swear, I thought I was tilling the fields in a painted landscape at sunset, orange and yellow skies. Like the other records on this list, it will transport you. Allow you to escape, even just for a moment. It will take you to a different world, for better or for worse, and keep you there as long as you give it a chance."
5. Woods Of Desolation - Torn Beyond Reason (2011)
"It's like being in a forest on all Hallow's eve. Dark wind whispers through the trees. And life hasn't treated you well. Another group from Australia, Woods Of Desolation take a very black metal approach to guitar riffs, add a bit of melody, and create a thick wall of sound. Although the tone fits somewhere between sorrow and hatred, it should manage to bring in metal fans who want to experience the blackened side of things without delving into religious imagery or ideas. I think a theme of what I've come up with is more of a focus on both nature and emotion. Torn Beyond Reason marries these two ideas perfectly and could serve any listener who loves a solid guitar riff a perfect gateway album."
6. Elderwind - Волшебство живой природы / The Magic Of Nature (2012)
" The Magic of Nature is just beautiful. It utilizes piano and synth heavily throughout, and the atmosphere is thick with fog and mountainous forest air. This band is from Russia and are one of the newer bands on this list in the atmospheric black metal genre. Imagine sitting atop a high mountain, the crisp air blowing past you. Before you are colossal valleys and peaks covered in trees. Only unlike Woods of Desolation, the day is new. The sun is rising, and you have some wood to gather to cook your freshly caught fish from the stream. What's there not to love?"
7. Germ - Grief (2013)
"Hailing from Australia, Germ can lead people into a depressive black metal as well as traditional black metal. It mixes a "rock" feel, again lush with melody and beautiful instrumentals with a depressive black metal vocal style. The way the vocals are mixed and performed, however, make them a lot more palatable than most high shrieks you can find in the genres. I would personalize categorize this one as post-black metal, just not as folky as Agalloch. More like blackened depressive rock that allows listeners to dip their toes in the genre. I must add, the piano and guitar solos on this record are top-notch."
8. Deafheaven - New Bermuda (2015)
"Do you like going to the beach? Do you love the California sun? Maybe this record is just what you need to begin your journey into the depths of black metal. To me, Deafheaven has always felt like a very 'Californian' band. There's something about the chord choice and movement that really reminds me of the west coast state. I think New Bermuda is their best record by far, incorporating the perfect amount of aggression with their trippy shoegaze roots. This is likely the happiest sounding record I've chosen, but that's what makes it unique. People don't always want to dwell in sorrow and pity (not sure who these people are, but I'm sure they're out there) and so New Bermuda is probably the best time you're going to have with anything on the fringe of black metal. Plus, the mixing and mastering on this one is impeccable."
9. Uada - Cult Of A Dying Sun (2018)
"Hmmm, another American band. Maybe my idea of bands that are good gateways into the genre happen to be American sounding. Maybe I'm just biased! Uada brings great riffs, great vocals with amazing range, and memorable hooks. This one is definitely for those who have already delved into extreme metal, but maybe just aren't as familiar with the blackened way of things. It's strange to call a black metal record catchy, but I've gotten these lyrics and guitar riffs stuck in my head many times. Normies like catchy hooks, right?"
10. Spectral Wound - A Diabolic Thirst (2021)
"This is the newest record on my list. It is an example of a modern black metal record that stays true to the traditional sound, while making it their own just enough to be worthy of checking out. All of the elements are here, from the high-contrast album cover to the raw sound, it incorporates everything one might put on a black metal checklist. If someone wanted me to play them a record that is black, and modern, this would be my go-to. They are Canadian, if that interests anyone…"
Ghost Bath's new album Self Loather is out now via Nuclear Blast
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Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.
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Ghost Panther Unleashed - Marvel's Ghost Rider/Black Panther Fusion Returns in MCU-Worthy Redesign
- In epic art shared to Instagram by bosslogic, the Ghost Panther is unleashed.
- Ghost Panther combines the histories and souls of T'Challa and Johnny Blaze, hunting down the souls of the wicked.
- Ghost Panther is a hero of the Warpworld reality, existing as canon within the Marvel multiverse.
Marvel loves combining its iconic heroes to create new characters, and Ghost Rider and Black Panther 's combined form is one of the best - the Ghost Panther! Now, new art of this fiery force of vengeance shows that far from remaining in the comics, the Ghost Panther needs to be unleashed on the MCU as a hero from its vast multiverse.
In epic art shared to Instagram by bosslogic , the Ghost Panther is unleashed, as this former stunt driver puts a skeletal spin on Black Panther's Vibranium panther habit.
Introduced as part of the Infinity Wars event, Ghost Panther combines the souls of T'Challa and Johnny Blaze , as well as living a merged version of their histories. The Ghost Panther hunts the souls of the wicked while riding a gigantic, flaming panther.
Captain America Is Marvel's New Ghost Rider in Jaw-Dropping Fanart
The ghost panther is marvel's best 'infinity warps' hero, ghost panther exists in his own, separate reality.
During the Infinity Wars event, Gamora used the Infinity Stones to create a new reality known as Warp World - one based on Earth-616, but with half as many people. Gamora accomplished this by combining the histories and souls of two people for every one, creating some surprising 'fusions' of well-known characters. Gerry Duggan and Humberto Ramos' Ghost Panther is the result of Johnny Blaze and T'Challa's histories becoming tangled to create a new character - an exiled prince of Wakanda who was killed while working as a stunt rider in America, then resurrected by the demonic Zarathos as a Spirit of Vengeance.
Further adventures have built out Ghost Panther's world and lore, and even continued to combine him with other heroes - first creating the Ghost Hammer (Black Panther/Ghost Rider combined with Thor/Iron Man) and finally the Hammer Supreme (Ghost Hammer combined with Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Captain America and Doctor Strange.) Now a unique hero in Marvel's vast multiverse, the Ghost Panther has the best aspects of Black Panther and Ghost Rider's lore and costumes, but with his own enemies and allies, including the time-traveling villain Erik Killraven and the armored hero Pantherheart.
Bosslogic's stunning art takes the character back to basics, depicting the classic Black Panther costume bursting into eldritch flames. Fans speculate on the post that the hero would make for an ideal WHAT IF? episode, however Ghost Panther isn't a variant of Black Panther or Ghost Rider - he's a new person created from their experiences. While he started life in an unusual way, Ghost Panther is an official 'original' hero within the Marvel multiverse, meaning fans may get to see this epic Black Panther / Ghost Rider fusion as the movies dive into Marvel's many alternate realities.