Ghost is the public relations arm of Ghost, conducting its musical rituals in venues around the world. The band is easily recognizable owing greatly to its eccentric on-stage presence. Eight of the group's nine members, known as Nameless Ghouls, wear virtually identical, face-concealing costumes. The most distinguishable member is its vocalist, currently Papa Emeritus IV, who wears a prosthetic mask of skull face paint and appears as what can be described as a "demonic anti-Pope." Each album cycle has brought about a change in the band's appearance. Though the vocalist is always portrayed as roughly the same archetypal character, there are slight appearance changes, and even altered personality traits from former versions.

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


Formation and Opus Eponymous era[]


Ghost on stage in 2011 at FortaRock

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

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

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

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

Infestissumam era[]


Ghost performing at Brooklyn, 28 July 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Meliora era[]


Ghost performing at Frankfurt, Germany, 17 February 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Prequelle era[]

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

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

IMPERA era[]

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

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

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



Ghost Logo


  • Tobias Forge – vocals (2008–present)
  • Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists:
    • Alchemy fire symbol Fire (Also known as Dewdrop/Sodo) – lead guitarist
    • Alchemy water symbol Water (Also known as Rain)– bassist
    • Alchemy air symbol Air/Wind – keyboardist
    • Alchemy earth symbol Earth (Also known as Mountain)– drummer
    • 152516101954918818 Phantom – rhythm guitarist
    • Male Multighoul (Also known as Swiss) – guitarist, tambourine, backing vocals, saxophonist (as Papa Nihil )
    • Female Multighoul – keyboardist, tambourine, backing vocal

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

Papa Emeritus[]

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Ghost's music has been categorized in many genres, though critics usually classify them as heavy metal, doom metal, hard rock, and to a lesser extent progressive rock and psychedelic rock. Adrien Begrand of PopMatters stated that Ghost recalls "the early sounds of Black SabbathPentagram, and Judas Priest, as well as the progressive and psychedelic rock of the late '60s." Speaking to, 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."

Their lyrics are blatantly Satanic; one Ghoul said, "the first album is about the forthcoming arrival of the Devil, spoken very much in biblical terms, much like the church will say that doomsday is near. Infestissumam is about the presence of the Devil and the presence of the Antichrist." However, the band has said several times their image is all tongue-in-cheek, citing that "We have no militant agenda. We are an entertainment group." Infestissumam also deals with "how people relate to a deity or God, themes like submission and superstition, the horrors of being religious." Additionally, a Nameless Ghoul said the second album is about "how mankind—predominantly men—what they have deemed to be the presence of the Devil, throughout history and even nowadays. And that’s why the record is so fueled with sexual themes and females ... the Inquisition was basically men accusing women of being the Devil just because they had a hard-on for them." The group's theatrics are influenced by KissDavid 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.

Awards and nominations[]

Grammis Awards[2]

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
2011 Opus Eponymous Best Hard Rock Album Nominated
2014 Infestissumam Best Hard Rock/Metal Album Won
2016 Meliora Best Hard Rock/Metal Album Won
2017 Popestar Best Hard Rock/Metal Album Won
2016 Ghost Swedish Export Pending

Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards[3]

Year  Nominee/Work            Award Result
2012 Ghost Breakthrough Band Won

Loudwire Music Awards

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
2013 Ghost Live Act of the Year[4] Nominated
2013 Infestissumam Metal Album of the Year Nominated
2013 Ghost Metal Band of the Year Nominated
2013 "Year Zero" Metal Song of the Year Nominated
2013 "Year Zero" Metal Video of the Year Nominated
2013 Papa Emeritus II Vocalist of the Year Nominated
2015 Nameless Ghoul Best Bassist Won
2015 Ghost Best Live Act Nominated
2015 Meliora Best Metal Album Won
2015 Ghost Best Metal Band Nominated
2015 "Cirice" Best Metal Song Nominated
2015 "Cirice" Best Metal Video Nominated
2015 Papa Emeritus III Best Vocalist Nominated
2015 Papa Emeritus III Rock Titan Nominated
2016 "Square Hammer" Best Metal Song Nominated
2016 "Square Hammer" Best Metal Video Won
2016 Ghost Best Live Act Nominated
2016 Papa Emeritus III Rock Titan of the Year Nominated

P3 Guld Awards

Year Nominee/Work                Award Result
2014 Infestissumam Best Rock/Metal Album Won

Bandit Rock Awards

Year Nominee/Work               Award Result
2016 Ghost Best Swedish Live Act[5] Won
2016 Ghost Best Swedish Group[5] Won
2016 Meliora Best Swedish Album[5] Won
2017 Ghost Best Swedish Live Act[6] Won
2017 Ghost Best Swedish Group[6] Won
2017 Popestar Best Swedish Album[6] Won
2019 Ghost Best Swedish Group[7] Won
2019 Prequelle Best Swedish Album[7] Won

Grammy Awards

Year Nominee/Work                 Award Result
2016 "Cirice" Best Metal Performance[8] Won
2023 "Phantom Of The Opera" Best Metal Performance TBA


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