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Music / Ghost

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"Come together, together as one
Come together, for Lucifer's son"
Ghost, "Monstrance Clock"
Just doing the work of Satan.note 

Ghost (known as Ghost B.C. in North America from 2013 to 2015) is a Swedish Hard Rock and Heavy Metal band that combines melodic '70s rock and metal with Satanic themes (imagine a cross between Blue Öyster Cult, Black Sabbath and Mercyful Fate). They are somewhat unique in that every member is totally anonymous (at least until a lawsuit resulted in the unmasking of the singer as Tobias Forge). They perform in full costume, with the lead singer being a Sinister Minister named Papa Emeritus and the rest of the band always wearing black cloaks and only identifying themselves as "Nameless Ghouls", though they are assigned alchemical symbols for identification. As of 2018, the Papa Emeritus character has been (temporarily at least) retired, replaced by Cardinal Copia.

Not to be confused with the disbanded Japanese band Ghost, the Mystery Skulls song of the same name, or the music video based off it.


Ghost's discography:

  • Opus eponymous (2010)
  • Infestissumam (2013)
  • If You Have Ghost EP (2013)
  • Meliora (2015)
  • Popestar EP (2016)
  • Prequelle (2018)

Ghost provides examples of

  • Adorkable: Cardinal Copia comes across as socially awkward, giving him this vibe. There's also Special Ghoul, who did most interviews. He's actually Papa in disguise.
    • As of late, Papa Nihil in the chapter videos is shown to be a very excitable, lovestruck old man who has a penchant for the saxophone and loves records and The Omen movies.
  • Affably Evil: YMMV on the "evil" part of it, but there's no denying that the band is very friendly, especially Papa III and Cardinal Copia. They openly make jokes and have fun with the crowd at performances.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Papa III would often blow kisses to the crowd, and would hold female audience members' hands during Cirice. He also would mimic some more...suggestive things involving male genitalia, and would get very touchy feely with his Ghouls, who were almost always male (with the exception of Water during the Popestar tour). Cardinal Copia follows this tradition by being even more flirtatious with his Ghouls.
  • Anonymous Band: The musicians wear robes, hoods and masks on stage and are referred to as "Nameless Ghouls" (even in song credits, where they're credited simply as "A Nameless Ghoul"). They refused to comment on any speculation about their real identities, and even faked a singer switch to try to throw off speculation about the singer's identity. The band said that Dave Grohl has played with them as one at a live studio performance, and that they have had several lineup changes. A few members have been guessed, possibly successfully. note 
    • In March 2017, Martin Persner of the Magna Carta Cartel identified himself as the former rhythm guitarist "Ether", sometimes known as "Omega". This was the first time anyone had intentionally revealed themself as a member.
    • In April 2017, 4 other former membersnote  willingly identified themselves as being members until 2016 (some for longer than others) and identified the singer against his will as Tobias Forge (although most already knew it at this point from Forge's own projects and the past photo leak by Nergal), after claiming he'd fired them due to a pay dispute.
    • In August 2017, Forge hosted the popular Swedish radio show Sommar and talked openly about the creation of Ghost and being Papa Emeritus.
    "My name is Tobias Forge and I am the man behind the mask in Ghost. Thank you for listening."
  • The Antichrist: Features in some of their songs.
  • Arc Symbol: The "grucifix", an upside down cross with a stylized 'G' in the middle (resembling an inverted Celtic cross).
  • Backmasking: Played with. If you play "Deus Culpa" backwards, you get a Swedish hymn, "Gläns över sjö och strand".
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Against the rest of the music industry when receiving a Swedish Grammy:
    "Doing the Devil's work through singing and clapping and dancing and cults of personality and idolatry... well, that's not something only we are doing, but everyone in here. So thanks for letting us help!"
    • Done again years later in Ghost-Chapter One: New Blood, with Sister Imperator referring to the band's Grammy as "that most beloved of golden calves."
  • Black Cloak: All of the Nameless Ghouls.
  • Blood Bath: In the song "Elizabeth".
  • Call-Back: Possibly. The phrase "Secular Haze" has previously appeared in the song "Son of May" by Forge's previous band Subvision.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Their cover of The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" changes the key from major to minor and the meaning from a happy celebration of spring to a song about the coming of The Antichrist ("Here comes the Son").
  • Corrupt Church: The music video for "He Is" in spades. It is basically a parody on how Christian churches are more a cult to the personality of the pastor or priest on duty than to worship God. Within the video, there are references such as:
    • Papa Emeritus III dressing as a cult leader, making miracles in a typical Pentecostal style.
    • The video contains two Freeze-Frame Bonus, as a form of parodying subliminal messages. The image in question belongs to Tony Alamo, a Evangelist pastor that was sentenced to prison for tax evasion and sexually abusing children he called his "wives".
    • In some parts of the video you see two ministers who collect the tithe who steal the money and put it in their pockets.
    • A woman who receives the host is in a position, as some comentaries in the video noted, as she is about to receive a blowjob.
    • The girls in the choir, one of them showing their bare breasts, are the parody of Tony Alamo's "wives".
  • Darker and Edgier: Meloria had shaped into this, and the final show of Papa III with Papa Zero declaring a message that "The Middle Ages have begun" seem to hint this for Era IV.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The first lines of the chorus to "Stand By Him".
    Tis the night of the witch/Tis the night of the witch, tonight
  • Dirty Old Man: Papa II fills this role, with his album having two explicitly sexual songs (Jigolo Har Megiddo and Monstrance Clock), and the Papaganda videos showing him with two women in his hotel room in Vegas.
  • Downer Ending: Prequelle is hardly a happy album to begin with, being about the black plague. But the final track, "Life Eternal", ends it with two lovers, about to die any second now, pondering what they would if they could live forever.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Well, for Era III, anyway. In Papa III's first appearance, his skull paint was very similar to Papa II's. Obviously, this wouldn't stick and Papa III gained a unique appearance of his own, being Younger and Hipper compared to his brother.
    • This happened again with Papa Emeritus Zero/Nihil. The first time Nihil is introduced, his mannerism and make-up was decidedly sinister and in tune with the ominous proclamation that the Dark Ages has begun. The video chapters however, showcased a more affable (if somewhat amoral) Papa Nihil with a dork-ish slant.
  • Elemental Powers: Each of the Nameless Ghouls is marked with his own elemental symbol. They use stamps with the same symbol to sign merchandise.
    • Fire ("alpha"): lead guitar
    • Water: bass
    • Air: keyboards
    • Earth: drums
    • Ether ("omega"): rhythm guitar
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Year Zero".
  • The Faceless: The Nameless Ghouls. All you can see when they're in costume is their hands (usually with make up to hide tattoos), and even then some(like Earth) wear gloves. Papa Emeritus also wears gloves with fake fingernails attached.
  • Fallen Angel: "From the Pinnacle to the Pit" is about the fall of an angel.
  • Gender Reveal: The video for "Year Zero" shows the Nameless Ghouls as being all women. This being Ghost, though, it shouldn't be taken seriously but rather as a Take That! at the speculation around their identities. As of Prequelle (2018), there has been three female ghouls: the Water Ghoul during Era III and the current Ghoulettes of Era IV.
  • Gratuitous Latin: The titles of their first three studio albums. Opus eponymous, means "our work", "Infestissumam" means "bitterest" or "most hostile" note (which could be them taking a jab at the 'sophomore slump' trope) and "Meliora" meaning "to improve or make better". The fourth, Prequelle, changes it up by going with Gratuitous French.
  • Hollywood Satanism: What their image and lyrics are all about, though the band have said repeatedly that it's not because they're Satanists, instead saying it's all tongue-in-cheek and they are "an entertainment group". They do leave it a bit ambiguous as to whether or not they're actually Satanists. When asked in an interview if they believe in the Devil, a Nameless Ghoul (who might very well be Papa in disguise) acting as the band's spokesman said, "Let's just say that he believes in us." In a later interview, he says, "I'm not an atheist." Their stage show might just be a gimmick, but to what extent is unclear.
  • Hot as Hell: "Jigolo Har Megiddo"
  • I Am the Band: Papa Emeritus (a.k.a. Tobias Forge) is the band's sole constant member as well as its main creative force. Following the lawsuit filled by former bandmembers, he also released a statement clarifying that the other members were pretty much just his employees.
  • I Was Quite a Looker As seen in the first episode of the band's webseries, Papa Nil and Sister Imperator were both quite attractive in their younger years.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Papa Emeritus III is claimed to be Papa Emeritus II's younger twin brother. His three month younger twin brother.
    • It's never stated that the two are twins, just brothers. It could imply that Papa Nihil, back in his youth, conceived multiple children. II and III just happened to be born in a three month time frame.
  • In the Hood: All the Nameless Ghouls.
    • No longer the case after Era II. The Ghouls now wear masks that parody angelic sculptures.
  • Kayfabe Music: Sort of. While the band is famous for its image as members of a Satanic Church, the members (save for Papa) generally don't adhere to this premise outside of live performances and a few in-character videos.
  • Last Note Nightmare: To be expected, given the band's premise.
    • "Deus Culpa" gets louder and louder, with a "Wham" noise fading in before the song loudly and abruptly cuts off, leading into "Con Clavi Con Dio".
    • "Year Zero" ends with a haunting synthesizer reprise, combined with the sounds of static and someone whispering... something.
    • Their album closers seem to have this too. "Monstrance Clock" (rounding off Infestissumam) ends with an eerie choir reprise of the song's chorus. "Deus in Absentia" rounds off Meliora with a solemn, sorrowful choir lamenting at the absence of god.
  • Loudness War: CD version of Infestissumam suffers from Death Magnetic levels of brickwalling.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Catchy, melodious '70s rock... with over-the-top Satanic lyrics. Some songs take this even further - the chorus in "Monstrance Clock" sounds like something out of "We Are the World" (while actually being about a Black Mass), and "He Is" being a parody of Christian praise songs (the "He" being praised is in fact Lucifer).
    • "Dance Macabre" falls into this, with an upbeat, almost disco feel to it. The lyrics, while not as dark as some other songs, still involve dying from the Black Plague.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Papa Emeritus III, in direct contrast to his predecessors, seems to have been designed with this role in mind. His charming demeanor during live shows, rather form-fitting casual wear, and enthusiastic onstage speeches about the female orgasm certainly help. Cardinal Copia, not to be outdone, continues this tradition.
    • Papa II has his fair share of fangirls, sings songs about being lascivious, and was shown hooking up with beautiful women.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Usually a 9.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 5-6.
  • Nice Hat: Papa Emeritus wears what is basically a Satanic Pope hat.
    • Cardinal Copia actually has two: a fedora (as shown in the page image), and a biretta, colored black or scarlet.
  • No Name Given: The Nameless Ghouls, obviously.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Used frequently, most notably on Infestissumam. Which became a problem when they recorded Infestissumam in Nashville - "the Buckle of the Bible Belt" - as they couldn't find a choir that would agree to sing their Satanic lyrics. In the end, they had to turn to Hollywood to get those backing vocals. This explains why there's a noticeable lack of choirs on Meliora; the band wanted to avoid trouble they went through trying to get choirs to sing such lyrics, so they used mellotron choirs. The chanting at the end of "Deus in Absentia" is a leftover outtake from the Infestissumam sessions.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: A lot of fans saw through Tobias Forge's disguise long before the lawsuit that resulted in his name being revealed. Needless to say, not many people were surprised.
  • Progressive Rock: Some of the material on Infestissumam, particularly "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen".
  • Psychedelic Rock: 7 Inches of Satanic Panic, which, within the band's lore, was released in 1969, while Papa Nihil was fronting the band.
  • Renamed For The Export: From 2013 to 2015, they were known as Ghost B.C. in the US, thought to be related to the prior touring presence of a Japanese rock band that is also called Ghost. They eventually got it sorted out and are now back to being Ghost.
  • Retraux: The video for "Secular Haze" is shot like a '70s TV show appearance, while 'Square Hammer' is done in the style of early film making from the 1910s. "Kiss the Go-Goat" follows the trend by making it look like something out of the 1960s, complete with go-go dancers.
  • Revolving Door Band: A Nameless Ghoul has admitted that the band has gone through ten lineup changes since its formation. The lawsuit regarding Tobias Forge indicated that the Nameless Ghouls are viewed simply as employees for recording and live shows.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Most of their lyrics. Again, this is done firmly with tongue in cheek.
  • Satan: The subject of at least half of their songs.
  • Sinister Minister: Papa Emeritus (I, II, and III), and Papa Nihil, Satanic popes, and Cardinal Copia, a Satanic Cardinal.
  • Shout-Out: Their album and merchandise artworks feature frequent homages to horror movies, as well as other bands, occasionally.
  • Story Arc: For a metal band, this is pretty surprising. Following the start of Era III (with Papa Emeritus III), Ghost began to establish lore about itself: The band is a key element to what's implied to be a church dedicated to spreading the word of Satan, with a Papa being the front man and of the same bloodline. Around the start of Era IV however, it's revealed there's a much older Papa called Papa Nil (and the one seen when Papa III was ousted) who is confirmed by one of his Sisters that the Church has decided to go with a different front man of Ghost, a cardinal known as Cardinal Copia.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Papa Emeritus II, who replaced Papa Emeritus I. In actuality, the same singer in a new mask. They're now up to Papa Emeritus III and are soon to be moving onto the fourth iteration of infernal popes. This was...surprisingly enough changed for Era IV, where instead of a Papa, we get a cardinal to be the front of Ghost named Cardinal Copia.
  • Talent Contest: The video for Cirice sees a school talent show get derailed by a kid version of the band.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Sister Imperator and Papa Nil in Ghost-Chapter One: New Blood, particularly as their younger selves. Their two minutes of interaction was enough to get fans speculating about the nature of their relationship, ranging from Friends with Benefits to Dry Docked Ship. The Dance Macabre MV showed that both Nihil and Imperator were at least lovers but whether or not they remained so in the current era is unknown. Although it's clear that at least Nihil is still enamored with her, it's a bit more ambiguous on Imperator's side.
    • As of Chapter 8, it's confirmed that this trope was resolve; while they were lovers (and it's implied that Imperator was pregnant with his child), Nihil instigated the breakup by being too flirty with his fans, culminating in him kissing a pair in front of a watching Imperator. While Nihil continued to hold a torch for her, Imperator told under no certain terms that she was done with him, staying only because the Ministry is far more important.
  • Wham Concert: The final show of Papa III became this: Papa III was taken off stage by strange men in suits and a similar very older sinister pope (complete with oxygen tank and mask!) who identified himself as Papa Zero and declaring a haunting Latin message: "The party is over. The Middle Ages have begun".

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