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Music / Ghost (Band)

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Just doing the work of Satan.
"Are you on the square?
Are you on the level?
Are you ready to swear,
Right here, right now,
Before the devil?"
— "Square Hammer"

Ghost (known as Ghost B.C. in North America from 2013 to 2015) is a Swedish Hard Rock/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 an interesting example of an Anonymous Band: the band members dress all in black, wear masks that completely conceal their faces, and only identify themselves as "Nameless Ghouls" (though they are assigned alchemical symbols for identification); the singer and front man, portrayed by Tobias Forge (formerly from Repugnant and Subvision, who was anonymous until a lawsuit forced him to reveal himself) is functionally the driving creative force of the band, playing every single one of the lead characters.

The band is led by a succession of Sinister Ministers named Papa Emeritus I through III. In 2017, the line of succession was interrupted when the elderly Papa Nihil (introduced as Papa Emeritus Zero) suddenly seized control of the band and had Papa III dragged off the stage in the middle of his final performance.

When the band returned on tour, Cardinal Copia became the band's new front man, which was revealed in a series of lore videos produced by the band — which also showcase news updates and announcements on top of telling a story. Things took a drastic change at the end of the final tour of the Prequelle era, when Nihil suddenly died in at the end of his saxophone solo. Cardinal Copia was subsequently anointed as Papa Emeritus IV and has remains the band's leader, making him the longest-running face of the band thus far.

Not to be confused with the Mystery Skulls song of the same name, the music video based off it, or the two different Japanese bands both also named Ghost (one of them an experimental psychedelic band that was active in the '90s, and the other a Visual Kei band that was active in the 2000's).


Studio albums
  • Opus Eponymous (2010)
  • Infestissumam (2013)
  • Meliora (2015)
  • Prequelle (2018)
  • Impera (2022)note 

Other releases

  • If You Have Ghost (EP) (2013)
  • Popestarnote  (EP) (2016)
  • Ceremony and Devotion (Live Album) (2017)
  • Seven Inches of Satanic Panic (EP) (2019)
  • Phantomime (EP) (2023)

Ghost provides examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: Their "13 Commandments" greatest hits album released on December 1st 2023, which appropriately has a track list of exactly thirteen of their songs.
  • Affably Evil: Every frontman for the band has played the part of a Card-Carrying Villain who supports the reign of the Antichrist and the Devil, which the associated musicians back up. Even so, there's no denying that the band is very friendly, especially Papa III and Cardinal Copia/Papa IV. They openly make jokes and have fun with the crowd at performances.
  • Anonymous Band: The musicians wear clothes and masks that completely obscure themselves and are referred to as "Nameless Ghouls" (even in song credits, where they're credited simply as "A Nameless Ghoul"). They refuse 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, four 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: While not every song on them is about the Antichrist, the first two albums revolve around him:
    • Opus Eponymous' central theme is the coming of the Antichrist; "Ritual" revolves around a Satanic ritual intended to bring about his conception, "Death Knell" focuses on that conception, "Prime Mover" talks about his imminent birth, and "Genesis" is a musical representation of the birth.
    • Infestissumam is loosely themed around the Antichrist's presence on Earth. "Infestissumam" directly references him, "Jigolo Har Megiddo" is roundaboutly about him ("I am the son of one below / The progeny of beast of woe"), "Antichristos" is being chanted in the background near the end of "Year Zero", and "Monstrance Clock" is about an orgiastic Black mass dedicated to him. Additionally, the boy in the video for "Year Zero" is implied to be the Antichrist.
  • 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 "Chapter One: New Blood", with Sister Imperator referring to the band's Grammy as "that most beloved of golden calves."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Impera ends with "Respite on the Spitalfields". Taken on its own the song is about the aftermath of Jack the Ripper, who killed several people and was never brought to justice, while in the context of the rest of the album it's about the decay and fall of an authoritarian empire. The song references the hysteria around Jack the Ripper and how it seemed like he was going to keep on killing people unstoppably, but actually he just vanished without a trace never to be heard from again. The message seems to be that something terrible happened, but that it ultimately ended. The song also ends with a repeat of "Imperium", which started the album, showing how the rise and fall of empires is a cycle.
  • Black Comedy: While there's a dark undercurrent to the "Chapter" videos, overall they're very tongue-in-cheek and highlight the goofiness of the Nihil and Copia characters. Even the three previous Papas being killed to be made into a display piece is played for comedy, as they're playing UNO in street clothes and one of them has his cards the wrong way, and there's a voiceover advertising their preserved bodies being on display for fans at the very end of the video.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Chapter Nine: Tomb It May Concern" consists of a conversation between Sister Imperator and Papa IV over a Zoom-like video conferencing app called "Doom".
  • Blood Bath: Referenced in the last verse of "Elizabeth," a song about Elizabeth Báthory:
    To bathe in pure fresh blood / She'd peasant virgins killed
  • Call-Back:
    • Possibly. The phrase "Secular Haze" has previously appeared in the song "Son of May" by Forge's previous band Subvision.
    • The first verse of "Respite on the Spitalfields" has Papa Emeritus ask if anyone heard the distant thunder alluding to oncoming danger, bringing to mind a similar verse from "Cirice", asking the subject of the song if they can hear the thunder.
  • Camp: Ghost is known for a deliberately campy take on Rock Me, Asmodeus!; their overall shtick can be summed up as channeling the theatrical flair of Alice Cooper into a Satanic parody of Catholicism. The Papas wears papal outfits and skull-painted masks, the band is completely disguised and is only referred to as "a pack of Nameless Ghouls", stages often have backdrops like massive stained glass murals from cathedrals, and concerts are referred to as "rituals" in reference to the song "Ritual" from Opus Eponymous.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Many of their songs imply this about them.
  • Catchphrase:
    • All of the band's official Facebook posts start with "[MESSAGE FROM THE CLERGY] We wish to inform you [...]"
    • Father Jim Defroque ends his sermons and podcasts with variations of "You've been Defroqued"
  • Concept Album: While most of Ghost's albums have a theme running through them, Prequelle and Impera are the most dedicated to an overall storyline, with Prequelle being about The Black Death and Impera being about the rise and fall of a cruel and corrupt empire.
  • 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" 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 playing up the "cult leader" aspect by wearing form-fitting white suits and large sunglasses while conducting the services, which include over-the-top Pentecostal-style spirit channeling and river baptisms.
    • Two Freeze Frame Bonuses, as a form of parodying subliminal messages. The image in question belongs to Tony Alamo, a Evangelist pastor who was sentenced to prison for tax evasion and sexually abusing children he called his "wives".
    • The ministers collecting the tithe are pocketing some of the money.
    • A woman who receives the host is in a position, as some commentaries in the video noted, to give a blowjob.
    • The girls in the choir, one showing her bare breasts, are the parody of Tony Alamo's "wives". This aspect goes even further at the video's end, as the women being baptized are naked under their robes, and one is almost being groped by Papa as he's lifting her out of the water.
  • Costume Porn: The Papal Regalia are these, especially during Papa Emeritus IV's Era. Each costume became increasingly extravagant and intricately detailed as the years went on. This can also be seen by the Nameless Ghouls' costumes as well.
  • Cover Version:
  • Darker and Edgier: Meliora had shaped into this, and the final show of Papa III with Papa Zero declaring a message that "The Middle Ages have begun".
  • Dead Guy on Display: As revealed in "Chapter Three: Back On the Road", this is the final fate of the three previous Papas: they're killed and embalmed to be turned into a traveling display for VIP fan packages at concerts.
  • Decapitation Presentation: An issue of Metal Hammer magazine shows Papa Nihil and Cardinal Copia, with Copia holding Papa Emeritus III's severed head in his hands.
  • 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
  • Double-Meaning Title:
  • Downer Ending: Prequelle is hardly a happy album to begin with, being about the Black Plague. However, its final track, "Life Eternal", ends it with two lovers, about to die at any moment, pondering what they would do if they could live forever.
  • Elemental Powers: Each of the Nameless Ghouls is marked with their 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: As revealed in "Year Zero", Satan's goal is to destroy humanity and likely the earth itself.
  • Evil Laugh: Done at the end of the first repetition of the chorus near the end of "Faith".
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The video for "Dance Macabre". Two guys crash a party at a huge mansion, one enthusiastically and the other as a reluctant tagalong. They're greeted at the door by a guy who looks like a goth take on Riff Raff; he rebuffs them until he gets a good look at the reluctant one, then invites them in. Once inside, it appears to be your typical wild party, but with the revelers looking dark and gothic. Dancing girls soon show up in black robes and plague doctor masks, and later a guy wearing a goat mask and robe who the others fawn over appears. While this is happening, the reluctant one begins dancing with Sister Imperator; she then leads him being transformed into Papa Nihil, and they eventually kiss. The first guy, on the other hand, is mauled, and possibly killed, by the women who latched onto him when they first walked in.
  • Fallen Angel: "From the Pinnacle To the Pit", more specifically about Lucifer's fall from heaven.
    You were cast out from the heavens to the ground
    Blackened feathers falling down
    You will wear your independence like a crown
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The reveal of the Nameless Ghouls being women in the "Year Zero" music video is preceded by the women stripping down to put on their ghoul garb. The uncensored version shows them topless, though since some of them are older, it's not exactly "sexy."
    • Likewise, anyone who isn't into old men will likely find the sexualization of the Papas and Cardinal to be off-putting. Special mention goes to the shot of Papa II's bare ass in the second Papaganda video, plus him exposing himself in the last seconds of the video for "Year Zero".
  • Foreshadowing: In the video for "Square Hammer", the last shot before the film self-destructs is a stone cross with a cardinal sitting on it, a nod to the eventual transition from Papa III to Cardinal Copia.
  • Free-Handed Performer: Tobias Forge both played guitar and sang in his Death Metal band Repugnant, but in Ghost, as Papa Emeritus he only sings while the Nameless Ghouls do all the instrument playing.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Near the end of the video for "Year Zero", there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it frame of the long-haired woman who eats the apple before Papa shows up, back in the room where the women were sitting and topless.
  • Gaia's Lament: "Kaisarion" and "Watcher in the Sky" have lyrics alluding to the state of the planet — which isn't great, to say the least.
  • 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 have been three female ghouls: the Water Ghoul during Era III and the current Ghoulettes of Era IV.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: This seems to be the case in their songs. As an example, both "Bible" and "Year Zero" describe The End of the World as We Know It, but with God and Satan doing the deed, respectively.
  • God Is Evil: The lyrics for "Infestissumam" mention the Trinity as the Father, Son and Evil Spirit.note 
  • Gratuitous Italian: "Con Clavi Con Dio" features the chant "Siamo con clavi / Siamo con dio / Siamo con il nostro dio scuro" which is mixed with Latin and roughly translates to "We are with nails / We are with God / We are with our dark lord".
  • 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 means "to improve or make better", and the fifth, Impera, means "absolute dominion" or "supreme power". The fourth, Prequelle, changes it up by going with Gratuitous French.
  • Guilt Complex: "Spillways" points an accusatory finger at the deep-seated guilt complex that fuels the endless sin/repentance loop, calling it "the cruel beast that you feed" with "your burning, yearning need to bleed / Through the spillways of your soul" (i.e. crying from shame).
  • Have You Seen My God?:
    • Meliora is all about the idea of God being absent in a society. The album best exemplifies this with "Deus in Absentia", which ends with a crowd calling out to God before mourning his absence.
    • "Watcher in the Sky" is about people using technology to try to search for God.
  • 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"'s subject, most likely the Antichrist, describes himself as "the one who comes richly endowed" and brags up his sexual potency throughout the song.
  • I Am the Band: 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.
  • Intercourse with You: Unsurprisingly for a rock band, a number of their songs have to do with sex.
    • "Death Knell" is about having sex with the Devil for the purpose of conceiving the Antichrist.
    • "Jigolo Har Megiddo" is basically about the Antichrist bringing women to worship of Satan through sex.
      I am the way
      And you invited me to stay
      However fair and pure, you crave the wand
      You see through me what lies beyond
    • "Monstrance Clock" is a song about cultists having a ritualized orgy in the name of the Antichrist.
    • "Dance Macabre" is about two people going Out with a Bang as they know that their deaths are imminent.
    • While fairly tame lyrically, "Kiss the Go-Goat" and "Mary On a Cross" are still very sex-themed. Justified as they're being "sung" by Papa Nihil in his youth, when he appeared to be as much about scoring as he was about singing about Satan.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: Invoked by Tobias during an interview with Loudwire. When asked about the "changes" in the singer, he said that part of the reason for going with a more animated and charismatic character in Papa III was to prevent the band's formula from becoming stale and causing fans to lose interest.
  • 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.
  • Kazoos Mean Silliness: During Papa Emeritus III's time as the band's singer, they occasionally did acoustic performances of their cover of "If You Have Ghosts", "Jigolo Har Megiddo", and "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen". For the latter song, Papa would play the keyboard parts on a kazoo, lending a song about an undead ruler an odd air of silliness. He would sometimes dramatically announce it as "the Kazoo of Destiny" when it came out.
  • Kill the God: Invoked in the lyrics of "Infestissumam". "Il padre, il filio, et lo spiritus malum / Omnis caelestis delenda est" translates to "The Father, the Son, and the Evil Spirit / Everything heavenly must be destroyed".
  • Kubrick Stare: Two back-to-back in the video for "Year Zero". Papa II tilts his head down and lowers his shades to do this as the choir sings "Hell Satan" immediately after the bridge, which then smash cuts to him in his makeup and regalia opening his eyes to give another one before he starts singing the first of the ending choruses.
  • Last Note Nightmare: To be expected, given the band's premise.
    • "Year Zero" ends with a haunting synthesizer reprise, combined with the sounds of static and someone whispering... something...that ends with "Can you hear me?"
    • 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.
  • Left the Background Music On: Played with in "Chapter Two: The Cardinal". When Cardinal Copia first appears, organ music is playing, but it quickly becomes apparent that it's coming from the boombox he's carrying on his shoulder. He shuts it off before speaking to Papa Nihil and Sister Imperator, then turns it back on just before leaving.
  • Lighter and Softer: While still very dark by popular music standards, Impera is lighter compared to the earlier albums. The music goes fully into Rock & Roll over heavier metal sounds; the Satanic and Religion Rant Song elements, while still present, are toned down; and the last song ends things on a bittersweet note rather than having a Downer Ending.
  • Lineage Ladder: In the lore video "Chapter Two: The Cardinal", Papa Nihil is taken aback when Sister Imperator recommends Cardinal Copia to take over from the previous Papas, who were all Nihil's children, as the singer for Ghost.
    Nihil: The bloodline has not been broken for nigh a millennium. My father was Papa. His father. His father's father. His father's father's father. His father's father's father's father's father. His father.
  • Loudness War: 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 it's actually talking about having an orgy in a Black Mass.
    • "He Is" is a parody of Christian praise songs (the "He" being praised is in fact Lucifer). Downplayed in that the praise is genuine, and the song is the closest Ghost gets to saying Satan Is Good.
    • "Bible", from the Popestar EP, is another uplifting praise song describing an alternate version of the creation myth from Genesis...with its second half describing the destruction of Earth and extermination of all life.
    • "Dance Macabre" has an upbeat, almost disco feel to it. The lyrics, while not as dark as some other songs, still involve dying from the Black Plague.
    • "Pro Memoria" has a lovely melody for the lyrics "Don't you forget about dying / Don't you forget about your friend Death / Don't you forget that you will die".
    • "Rats" has a incredibly bouncy feeling in the instruments and apart from the chorus, the vocals are in general very upbeat. The actual lyrics are a Religion Rant Song comparing people turning to religion during tumultuous times to rats spreading disease.
    • "Kaisarion" might just be the most upbeat, hype-inducing song that Ghost has ever done. It's also a song about Hypatia, an innocent woman and intellectual accused of being a witch, being violently murdered by religious zealots who were manipulated by political figures. In the context of the album, it's describing the rise of a theocratic empire that is responsible for all the suffering described through the rest of the tracks.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Used as a prop/set piece during live performances of "Miasma" after Copia became Papa IV. Papa Nihil's corpse is wheeled onto the stage and he's shocked back to life by a defibrillator. He stumbles about for a second, is handed a saxophone, and starts playing his part.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: In the video for "Year Zero", as the music ends Papa II abruptly pulls the front of his robe over his head, revealing that he's naked underneath it...and has a huge censor bar.
  • Mammon: "Mummy Dust" is about Mammon, a Biblical deification of money and material wealth, and his corrupting influence on humanity.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • "Cirice" is based around the idea of religious leaders manipulating their congregation, first by reaching out to them on an emotional level and then creating such a level of codependency that they'll be lost without them.
    • "Darkness at the Heart of My Love" takes the opposite route and portrays its singer (the Devil) as a loving being — all while openly telling the listener that there are darker machinations in play despite the sweet nothings being promised.
  • Market-Based Title: 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. Tobias joked that it stood for "Bullshit Copyright".
  • Mephistopheles: "Call Me Little Sunshine" revolves around a person being tempted to go down a dark path that could consume or destroy them, and invokes Mephistopheles in the chorus as a way to name this nebulous tempting. Of course, it can also interpreted as a straightforward "I'm always here when you need/want me" from Satan as Mephistopheles, which the video leans heavily into.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Zig-zagged in their videos, at least on YouTube. In the video for "Year Zero", as the women are changing into the Nameless Ghoul outfits, their bared breasts are covered with censor bars. However, the women being baptized at the end of the video for "He Is" are clearly not wearing anything under their robes (at least from the waist up) but their breasts aren't censored. Also, in the video for "From the Pinnacle to the Pit", uncensored topless women can briefly be seen during the industrial imagery accompanying the instrumental.
  • Number of the Beast: Both played straight and played with in "Death Knell". The first chorus starts with "Six-six-six / Invoke the king of hell", while the second chorus starts with "Sex, sex, sex / Receive the beast of evil", tying into the song's theme of the conception of the Antichrist.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Spirit", the opening track of Meliora uses getting drunk on absinthe, possibly fatally so, as a metaphor for the Apocalypse.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Used frequently, most notably on Infestissumam. This 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 the 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.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Devil is ambiguously implied to be this and is referred to as 'Destroyer of the Earth' in "Year Zero".
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Befitting of their subversion of Catholic imagery, organs are featured prominently throughout their work.
  • 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.
  • Passing the Torch: The end of each era of the band has some version of this, although some more forcibly than others. The succession from Papa Emeritus I to Papa Emeritus II, and from Papa Emeritus II to Papa Emertius III, occurred normally, with the leaving front man agreeing to let his successor perform a final, never-before-heard song to close out the ritual. This was thrown for a loop when Papa Emeritus III was violently seized by Papa Nihil's bodyguards at the end of his last performance, leaving the band without a successor at the end of the era; Cardinal Copia stepped up to the plate at the start of the next era. Cardinal Copia was then anointed Papa Emeritus IV upon Papa Nihil's sudden death in the middle of the final concert of that era.
  • Performance Video:
    • While "Year Zero"'s video is mostly a skit involving Papa II showing up to apparently make a pact with a group of women, the last two choruses have the band playing the song in a series of rapid cuts between Papa and the individual Ghouls.
    • "Monstrance Clock"'s video is a live performance with the studio track overlaid.
    • "Secular Haze"'s video is shot as if it was a live performance on a 70s-era variety show.
    • "Faith"'s original videonote  is a montage of shots of the band performing the song during the A Pale Tour Named Death tour, intercut with shots of the crowd rocking out to the song and concert-goers in Ghost-themed costumes and/or makeup.
    • The first half of "Kiss the Go-Goat"'s video appears to be a black/white music video, while the latter half has the group performing at the Whiskey a Go Go.
  • Punny Name:
    • "Idolatrine" is a combination of "idolatry" and "latrine", which fits its theme of mocking Christian religious practices perfectly.
    • Jim DeFroque's last name is a play on "defrock", which means "to strip a priest or preacher of their station".
  • Precision F-Strike: The Papas (and Copia prior to becoming Papa IV) are well known for swearing liberally in stage banter, but in contrast, Ghost's songs are practically curse-free. The major exceptions are the second verse of "Deus In Absentia", which starts with "You're so goddamn frail", the cover of "Sympathy for the Devil" note  wherein in the last verse he says "I'll lay your fucking soul to waste", and "Twenties" from Impera which contains "Listen up, you motherfuckers!" and "We'll be taking no shit from no chulas".
  • Progressive Rock: Some of the material on Infestissumam, particularly "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen".
  • Psychedelic Rock: Seven Inches of Satanic Panic, which, within the band's lore, was released in 1969, while Papa Nihil was fronting the band.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • Because Faith. Is. Mine.
  • Rain of Blood: Near the end of the video for "Dance Macabre", just after Sister Imperator and Papa Nihil kiss, blood begins to rain onto them.
  • Religion Rant Song: Downplayed, surprisingly enough. Ghost has written some of this kind of song, such as "Idolatrine", "Rats", "Faith", "Spillways", and the music video of "He Is", but for the most part their Satanic and anti-Christian image is used to create a dark and creepy aesthetic.
  • Retraux:
    • Some of their videos are deliberate call-backs to older media:
      • "Secular Haze" resembles a live performance from a '70s variety show, including cheesy fog effects, awkward camera angles and close-ups, and a grainy appearance.
      • "Square Hammer" and "From the Pinnacle To the Pit" both evoke the silent film era, with the latter having a strong German Expressionism theme and also incorporating material from Cecil B. DeMille's Madam Satan.
      • "Kiss the Go-Goat" reflects the song's Psychedelic Rock sound by having it start as an apparent filmed video, complete with go-go dancers, then segueing to a live performance at the Whiskey a Go Go.
    • The artwork on the back of Meliora's physical releases has a strong Art Nouveau influence.
  • 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.
  • Satan Is Good: Subverted much of the time. Satan is usually presented as evil in Ghost's music; "Con Clavi Con Dio" states that Satan wishes to destroy the earth and "Year Zero" implies he's plotting to destroy humanity. One of the only songs that portrays Satan in a positive light is "He Is", which is a devotional song from perspective of cultists claiming that the Devil gave them a reason to live.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Zig-zagged in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Alice Cooper. On one hand, they play up the Satanic kayfabe as much as possible. On the other, the music itself is very much on the lighter side of metal, and they've even covered ABBA, of all bands.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In the video for "Square Hammer", Papa III finally has enough of the craziness in the theater, throws his hands up, and walks out with the Nameless Ghouls following.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • In "Chapter Five - The Call", Sister Imperator calls Papa Nihil to talk about a series of movies. Their conversation is not only a huge lampshade on the Omen films, it pokes fun at the band's own concept of Imperator taking the reins in the church and having Cardinal Copia take over for the Papas.
    Nihil: I mean, 1, 2, and 3 are very good...but then suddenly, Christ smites our Lord at the end of 3 and that's it? What a shitty ending.
    Imperator: And then there's number 4, which feels like an excuse to bring in a new director and try to get the ending right after 15 years.
    Nihil: Well, whenever you have a new creative team, when you start episode 4, you have to do a lot of rebuilding.
    • It's easy to miss, but "Respite on the Spitalfields" mocks the bands own (in-universe) devotion to Satan in "Year Zero" by comparing it to the cults of personality around serial killers and authoritarian leaders who seem invincible yet inevitably fall in the end. "Year Zero" has the chorus "Hell Satan" (a variant of "Hail Satan") and goes:
    He will tremble the nations
    Kingdoms to fall one by one
    Victim to fall for temptations
    A daughter to fall for a son
    The ancient serpent deceiver
    To masses standing in awe
    He will ascend to the heavens
    Above the stars of God
    • Meanwhile, "Respite on the Spitalfields" says:
    He appeared to ascend
    So we all stood there in awe
    Now we have to pretend
    We didn't see what we saw
    When the curtain unveiled
    To the sound of applause
    That the king that we hailed
    Was the Wizard of Oz
  • Sinister Minister: While the Papas are the most prominent examples, Father Jim DeFroque, first introduced in "Jesus Talk with Father Jim DeFroque" and shown fully in the video for their cover of "Jesus He Knows Me", is an example in the actual church, as he's a Greedy Televangelist actually leading a life of vice. The video starts with DeFroque giving a sermon that openly milks the congregation for money. He then takes their money and spends the night buying and using drugs, getting serviced by a prostitute, having a wild party in his Humvee, and having an orgy with the beer hockey league that his church is sponsoring. The following morning, he cleans himself up and goes back to preaching like nothing happened.
  • Small Reference Pools: Of the dozens of demons they could have mentioned in "Year Zero", they went with Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus and two synonyms for the Devil. note 
  • Story Arc: 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 Nihil (the one seen when Papa III was ousted) who used to be the band's singer and is the father of the first three Papas. However, Sister Imperator reveals to him that the Church has decided to go with a different front man of Ghost, a cardinal known as Cardinal Copia. After almost two years, Papa Nihil dies during the band's only show of 2020, and Copia becomes Papa Emeritus IV. The video for "Kiss the Go-Goat" also subtly implies that Copia is the child of Papa Nihil and Sister Imperator, and the Chapter videos drop several additional hints about this connection.
  • Take That!:
    • By the band's admission, "Griftwood" is a song about America's former Vice President Mike Pence, an Evangelical Christian who from their perspective presents himself to be an adherent man of faith in order to further his ambitions as a politician, while also serving under a man who embodies none of the aspects of his religion with absolutely no objections. Beyond the political allegory, it's a scathing attack against any religious preacher who lies to their followers in the name of financial benefit.
    • "Twenties" is a scathing attack against unregulated capitalism and authoritarians, which also has some direct jabs at Donald Trump — most notably "We'll be grabbing 'em all by the hoo-has!" It even features a brief voice-a-like of the man in question:
    "I'm number one, you're number two; you've got a lotta God's work to do!"
  • Talent Contest: The video for "Cirice" sees a school talent show get derailed by a kid version of the band.
  • Theremin: "Spirit" opens with an theremin refrain that sounds like it's straight out of a 50s sci-fi movie, backed by a mellotron "choir", which sets the mood for both the song and the album as a whole.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Deus in Absentia" is basically an extended, vicious rant by the narrator to someone who found religion for selfish reasons and is having an emotional crisis upon learning that God is absent as Satan takes over the world. The band likened it to Satan speaking to Jesus prior to his crucifixion.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Occasionally used for dramatic flair, especially by Papa III. They're very prominent in the choruses in "Rats", although said choruses only consist of "(Them) r-r-r-rats!" repeatedly.
  • Twisted Eucharist: "Body and Blood" mocks the concept of Communion by depicting Jesus's corpse literally being exhumed and consumed.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: "Kiss the Go-Goat" presents the devil as this. He accepts worship from his followers but never gives anything in turn.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Sister Imperator and Papa Nihil in "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 video for "Dance Macabre" 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 resolved; 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 in the video for "Kiss the Go-Goat." 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.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Considering the dark subject matter of the songs, the transgressive lyrics, and the imposing masks depicting elderly religious leaders, one would expect Papa Emeritus to have a heavily guttural voice — and while he's capable of growling from time to time, he mostly sings with a pleasant, clean tenor, which is higher, and friendlier, than most metal acts covering this subject matter.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The final show of Papa III became this: Papa III was hauled off the 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 came on stage and declared a haunting message in Italian: "The party is over. The Middle Ages have begun."
    • On March 3rd, 2020, the band performed in Mexico for the last part of A Tour Called Death, which was aptly named "The Final Gig of Death." It was their sole show of the year, and it whammed hard. At the end of the saxophone solo in "Miasma", Papa Nihil fell, his handlers panicking. As the good Cardinal came out, the handlers revealed that Nihil had died. A briefly sorrowful Copia pays his respects, before an entourage of Sisters of Sin appear, surrounding him. When they pull away, he has donned papal robes and the Papa face paint, becoming Papa Emeritus IV.
  • Witch Hunt: "Stand By Him" is about a woman who had an affair with a vicar, was then accused of being a witch and burned at the stake, and is brought back to life by a black Sabbath to get revenge. The prechorus starts with "The witch hammer struck her down" and a quote from the Malleus Maleficarum ("All witchcraft comes from carnal lust / Which is in woman insatiable") is said during the instrumental before the last verse.
  • You Are Not Alone: Played with. The chorus of "Call Me Little Sunshine" says that the listener will never be alone and that help will always be available. Unfortunately, the singer is the Devil, who does not have good intentions and whose help is conditional.

♫ Come together, together as one
Come together, for Lucifer's son...


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ghost


Papa II stares

Papa Emeritus II does two Kubrick Stares back-to-back between the bridge and the ending choruses of "Year Zero".

How well does it match the trope?

3.5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / KubrickStare

Media sources: