What is Ghost?

Ghost is a Swedish band known for their Satanic imagery, unique sound, theatrics and over-the-top concerts, and running lore. Their music can be put into lots of different categories and varies greatly depending on the album, but it is generally described as heavy metal or rock, with recent songs taking on a more rock-pop or "evil ABBA" vibe.

Ghost currently has eight members. Seven of them wear near-identical masks and are referred to as the Nameless Ghouls. These members are responsible for playing various instruments, such as electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, ect. Fans have given each one names to distinguish them but I can never keep track of which is which lol

Ghost's eighth member is the frontman, vocalist, songwriter, and overall main dude of the band: Tobias Forge. However, he does not perform as himself; the band is fronted by what is basically an evil pope named Papa Emeritus. With each album, this pope is "killed" and replaced by his descendant, all of which are just Tobias in different masks. There's a pretty good video(link later) explaining Ghost, which has a line that puts it perfectly: "[Tobias] makes a living larping as his ocs and we just let him".

The basic premise behind the band is that it's supposed to be a Satanic Church taking over the world, with each album telling the next part in the story while also criticizing modern day Christianity and religious institustions, as well as other societal problems. Currently, Ghost has 5 albums and 3 EPs. Each album has its own unique sound, themes, and a new Papa Emeritus to go with it.

One important thing to understand is the concept of Satanism itself. The vast majority of Satanists don't sacrifice babies or conduct rituals in the woods -- they're Athiests who take on the label, usually to show their rebellion against the fact that Christianity is an extremely dominant relgion (in America, I can't speak for other countries) to the point that it influences laws, even though not everyone follows it. People also tend to get rubbed the wrong way by people who use this religion specifically as a shield for their regressive and bigoted beliefs. Ghost as a theatrical group takes the concept, stigma, and Christian perception of Satanism to the max for satire, aesthetics, their storyline, and essentially to prove a point.

The Papa Emeritus Bloodline

There have been 5 Papa Emerituses (Emeriti?) so far. Each one is responsible for one or two albums or EPs, and each one has his own style.

Papa Emeritus I

Papa Emeritus I was the very first Papa, from the very beginning of the band. He is a grandpa and there is little to no good live footage of him because of how new the band was. You can tell Papa Emeritus I apart by his janky face paint, red and black robes, and generally confused expression.

He's responsible for Opus Eponymous (2010), which is my favorite album. It's heavy, menacing, and full of doom. Opus Eponymous essentially sets the stage for the band with very dark songs, and tells the story of the coming of the Antichrist.

Papa Emeritus II

Coming soon after the death of I, Papa Emeritus II is more formal looking and gets more bitches. He was often seen without any robes or makeup, and seems to give slightly less of a shit. He is described as a miserable old man, and he was killed because he didnt even topple any governments or overthrow any churches. He looks like Papa I with more polished face paint, green and black robes, and a more serious expression. My coworker called him a demon and told me that my shirt of him was the cause of my nightmares.

Papa Emeritus II put out Infestissumam (2013), Ghost's second album. It takes a bit of a turn from the previous one, with most songs being a bit less heavy and a bit more melodic. It continues the story from Opus Eponymous and has themes of a more present evil, rather than an impending one.

Papa Emeritus III

Papa Emeritus III was the third and final Papa in the Emeritus bloodline (more on this later). He's a lot less stiff than the previous two, and commonly talked to the audience at live shows about the birds and the bees or having a hole in his shoe (as seen above). He's featured in some really cool music videos, and even won a grammy. He has black and purple robes, and a suit (that he actually wears his face paint with, unlike II), but you can differentiate him from the other Papas by his face paint -- it doesn't reach his mouth. Unfortunately, Papa Emeritus III was dragged off stage during a show to his death and replaced by a dumb old man.

Meliora (2015) was the album he was in charge of. It's got more of a focus on guitar than the previous one, and generally covers themes such as the absence of a god and the manipulation of those looking for one.

Papa Nihil

This old bitch made two songs and played the sax in one. He's the father of the Papa Emeriti and his character arc essentially focuses on his love for Sister Imperator, who is currently the head of The Clergy (in the lore, she basically runs Ghost). He had a fucking heart attack during his sax solo in 2020 because hes too old, and now when it's his turn to perform, they push a damn coffin onto the stage. We will talk more about Papa Nihil once you know who Cardinal Copia is.

Papa Nihil is responsible for the EP Seven Inches of Satanic Panic (2019), which consists of two songs: Mary on a Cross, and Kiss the Go Goat. It's Ghost's third EP, but it's the only one I'm covering here because the other two are either covers or songs that are featured on a main album anyways. Seven Inches of Satanic Panic is an EP that, in Ghost's lore, was "released in 1969 and recently re-discovered". As such, both songs on it are made to fit the style of songs in the 60s and 70s. These songs are sung by a young Papa Nihil. In concerts, they aren't sang by him, and are instead introduced as "a song that Papa used to sing!".

Cardinal Copia

You may be wondering, "this name seems very out of place, what's up with that?". Have no worries, we will get there. For now, lets just talk about Copia. He was a cardinal working for The Clergy, and was introduced at around the same time as Nihil. He's awkward, funny, and full of personality. He is either 25 or 40. He rides a tricycle and does really bad movie impersonations and is bisexual. We love Cardinal Copia. You can easily identify him from the others -- Since he's not a Papa, he doesn't have any face paint, he has a silly hat, and he kinda looks like a rat man.

He put out the album Prequelle (2018), Ghost's fourth album. Prequelle is kind of a mixed bag -- there's metal, pop rock, slower songs, and quite a few which sound what I can only describe as "Evil ABBA". It mainly centers around themes such as the Plague and death.

Cardinal Copa is the bastard son of Papa Nihil and Sister Imperator, although Nihil refuses to admit it. This is because Nihil is dumb and stupid. There was a big arc focusing on Nihil not wanting Copia to become the next Papa Emeritus, due to not being in the bloodline, and Sister Imperator trying to change his mind. Luckily, Papa Nihil died from that heart attack, so guess who's Papa now!

Papa Emeritus IV

Papa Emeritus IV, formerly Cardinal Copia, is the current frontman of Ghost. He's pretty much the same, just with new responsibilites and some sparkly new robes. Last year, he released Impera (2022), Ghost's fifth album, which got pretty big compared to the other ones! Papa Emeritus IV has done a lot of really cool and random things, like throwing the first pitch in a baseball game, doing a song for the movie Halloween Kills, and performing on a late night show and a Swedish game show.

Impera is about the rise and fall of empires, and also highlights some issues with people doing bad things in the name of Christianity. It's very similar to Prequelle in that it's got both heavier tracks and some softer ones.

After completing the Imperatour in 2022, Ghost is set to tour again in 2023, but Tobias said that there will be changes and that there are "things brewing". We are HOPING that Papa Emeritus IV makes through the end of this tour ┗|`O′|┛

The Ghost Timeline

timeline of events