Ghost (Swedish band)

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Ghost live in Utrecht.jpg
Ghost performing in Utrecht 2013.
Background information
Also known as A Group of Nameless Ghouls, Ghost B.C.
Origin Linköping, Sweden
Genres Heavy metal, doom metal, hard rock
Years active 2008–present
Labels Iron Pegasus, Rise Above, Metal Blade, Trooper Ent., Seven Four Ent., Loma Vista Recordings
Members Papa Emeritus II
The Nameless Ghouls (5 instrumentalists)

Ghost (known as Ghost B.C. in the United States) is a Swedish heavy metal band that was formed in Linköping in 2008.[1] In 2010, they released a 3-track demo followed by a 7" vinyl titled "Elizabeth," and later their debut full-length album Opus Eponymous. The Grammis-nominated album was widely praised and increased their popularity significantly. Their second album and major label debut Infestissumam was released in 2013, debuted at number one in Sweden, and won the Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album.

Ghost are easily recognizable because of their eccentric on-stage presence. Five of the group's six members wear hooded robes and the vocalist appears wearing skull make-up and dressed as a "demonic anti-Pope".[2] The band's members keep their identities secret and their names have not been publicly disclosed; the vocalist calls himself Papa Emeritus and the musicians are referred to only as Nameless Ghouls.[2]


Formation and Opus Eponymous[edit]

A Nameless Ghoul said that Ghost formed in 2006, when the members were in another band together and he played a riff that would become "Stand By Him" to them. He said, "I said that this is probably the most heavy metal riff that has ever existed.", "When the chorus came to me, it haunted my dreams. Every time I picked up the guitar, I ended up playing that progression, and when I fit the words in, it seemed to cry out for a Satanically-oriented lyric."[3]

Sample of "Elizabeth" from Opus Eponymous (2010).

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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.[3] 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."[4] 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.[5] The album was well-received and was nominated for the 2011 Grammis Award for "Best Hard Rock" album.[6][7]

Ghost supported gothic metal band Paradise Lost on their "Draconian Times MMXI" tour in April 2011.[8] On May 29, Ghost made their United States debut at the Maryland Deathfest.[9] 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. When Down closed their set, both guitars and drums were played by members of Ghost.[citation needed]

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.[10] Ghost joined Mastodon and Opeth as the opening act on the Heritage Hunter Tour throughout North America during April and May 2012.[11][12] In early 2012, a Nameless Ghoul said that the band had completed writing their second album.[2][13]


On December 15, 2012, Ghost performed a special show in their hometown, Linköping, where they debuted the new song titled "Secular Haze", which was released online earlier that day, and their cover of ABBA's "I'm a Marionette".[6] At the same show, they introduced Papa Emeritus II as the successor to the band's frontman Papa Emeritus—believed to be the same person simply playing a new character.[14] On December 20, the band announced that their second album, Infestissumam, would be released in early 2013.[1] 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.[15]

On February 5, 2013, the band announced a name change to "Ghost B.C." in the United States for legal reasons.[16] 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."[17]

Two Nameless Ghouls at the 2013 Coachella Festival

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.[18] 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.[19] 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".[19] 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.[19] All European copies and the US vinyl versions include the controversial artwork.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] Immediately after, Ghost toured South America supporting Iron Maiden and Slayer; this tour included a performance at Rock in Rio.[22] Ghost opened for Avenged Sevenfold and Deftones on a US tour in October.[23] In November, the band toured the UK with Alice in Chains.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

Ghost began crafting their third studio album, the follow up to Infestissumam, at the end of 2014, with it set for release in 2015.[28]


The six members of Ghost mimic the Roman Catholic Church but have reversed the image to worship Satan instead of the Holy Trinity.[29] The Nameless Ghouls each represent one of the five elements; fire, water, wind, earth and ether,[30] and wear their respective alchemical symbol on their robes.

Papa Emeritus[edit]

The group's vocalist portrays the band's mascot character, a Satanic priest known as Papa Emeritus. According to the band, Papa Emeritus is "supposed to be the star". A Nameless Ghoul said, "It's sort of like Eddie for Iron Maiden, except we have our Eddie singing".[2] There have been two versions of Papa Emeritus, the second was portrayed as a replacement for his predecessor, signifying a different character; although both versions are believed to be played by the same vocalist. Both versions of Papa Emeritus were only seen together on December 15, 2012 at their show in Linköping, where the original character was retired and Papa Emeritus II was introduced to launch Ghost's second album.[citation needed]

The original Papa Emeritus (left) in 2012, and Papa Emeritus II (right) in 2013

Papa Emeritus's appearance has changed over the course of the band's career. The original version of the character, referred to as Papa Emeritus, had a costume consisting of a vinyl mask of an older man with skull features painted on it, and white or black Cardinal chasuble and mitre. His eyes are different colors; the right one is brown and the left is lighter. Papa Emeritus would swing a smoking thurible as he entered the stage. The second version, referred to as Papa Emeritus II, has a noticeably different appearance than the first; with a black chasuble with emerald green lining, and a white mitre. Papa Emeritus II has the same mismatched eye color as the first and uses a scepter which adorns a metallic version of the bands logo.[citation needed]

In a mini-series focusing on Papa Emeritus, Vice magazine's stated that the first Papa Emeritus had an authoritative streak and that his successor was a member of the ministry who was chosen to replace the first because of his leadership skills.[31] Papa Emeritus II in this interview wore a suit with tie, a fedora, and the mask worn did not have the makeup on it, but instead a small mustache. In this interview, Papa Emeritus II spoke in Italian and described himself as "refined wine and a ladies man," while a Nameless Ghoul described the character as "a miserable, wounded, and bitter old man" who comes from the same bloodline as Leonard Cohen, Don Corleone, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, and the characters of Vincent Price. A Nameless Ghoul said, "He's felt the rain of the world on him, but now he's just too old to care." The interview also stated that the current Papa Emeritus would not be the last, and that another Papa Emeritus (III) would follow at some point.[32]


Anonymity is a major characteristic of Ghost; the members have not publicly revealed their names and the group's five instrumentalists are only referred to as "Nameless Ghouls". During signings, The Nameless Ghouls sign the merchandise by stamping their individual alchemical symbol, while Papa Emeritus signs with his stage name or the letters "P. E."[30] One Ghoul said the idea that the band's members remain anonymous to gain attention was 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".[33] 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."[4] 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.[13] 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."[34]

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.[35]

An Instagram post was made by Nergal of Behemoth in May of 2014. In the picture is Nergal alongside Tobias Forge, with the caption "If you have ghosts… U have everything ;)" The quote is a reference to Ghost B.C.'s cover of the Roky Erickson song "If You Have Ghosts." Forge, a former member of Repugnant, Crashdiet, Magna Carta Cartel, and Subvision, has been long rumored to be both Papa Emeritus I and II.[36]


Ghost's music has been categorized in many genres, though critics usually classify them as heavy metal, doom metal,[37][38] hard rock, and to a lesser extent progressive rock[39] and psychedelic rock.[40] Adrien Begrand of PopMatters stated that Ghost recalls "the early sounds of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and Judas Priest, as well as the progressive and psychedelic rock of the late '60s."[41] 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.[42]

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."[3] A member of the band said the Swedish and Scandinavian black metal movement of the early '90s plays a major role in their act,[37] and said that each member has come from a metal background.[4] However, the band has stated several times that they do not aim to be a metal band.[4][13] 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."[43] Only two members actually write songs; vocalist Papa Emeritus is not one of them.[44][45] 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.[44]

Sample of "Year Zero", featuring a "Hail Satan" chorus and the naming of several aliases for the Devil or other demons; "Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Satanas, Lucifer."

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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."[33] However, the band has said several times their image is all "tongue-in-cheek."[2] Infestissumam also deals with "how people relate to a deity or God, themes like submission and superstition, the horrors of being religious."[4] 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."[29] The group's theatrics are influenced by Kiss, David Bowie and Alice Cooper, but a member said they are more influenced by Pink Floyd.[4]


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.[46] The group were 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 album's release.[19] When one interviewer said 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."[47]

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. The burger has been called "tasteless" by local Catholic institutions, who demanded that it was removed from the menu. The restaurant's owner has refused, and stated that the burger is quite popular and is quite tasty.[48][49]


Studio albums
Album Year Peak positions IFPI Certification
Opus Eponymous
  • Date released: October 18, 2010
2010 36
  • Date released: April 10, 2013
2013 1 62 5 8 35 28 Gold[56]
EP Year Peak positions Certification
If You Have Ghost
  • Date released: November 20, 2013
2013 87
Single Year Peak positions Certification
  • Date released: June 20, 2010
"Secular Haze"
  • Date released: December 15, 2012
2012 22
"Year Zero"
  • Date released: April 19, 2013


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  42. ^ Talking To Ghost About The Beach Boys - Noisey Meets Ghost #12 on YouTube
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  48. ^ "Ghost B.C. Burger Makes the Body of Christ More Delicious Than Ever". Spin. 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  49. ^ "After burger controversy, Kuma's donates to Catholic Charities". Chicago Tribune. 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
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  54. ^ "Michael Buble set for third chart topping album in a row". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
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External links[edit]