150: GHOST

For a milestone post like 150, as well as the grand finale of a 6-day run of modern favourites, it couldn’t end with anyone but Ghost.

I adore Ghost. Not to sound too hipster but, I’ve been fucking with Ghost since album number 1. Seeing their trajectory from European club show oddity to bonafide festival headliner and arena spectacular has truly been a joy.

Ghost’s strength is capturing that big arena hard rock sound of the 70’s, the movement led by the likes of Black Sabbath. This was heavy, groovy, and damn fun. It was meant for the young guy raising his lighter, but also for his girlfriend beside him. It was for everyone and that spoke to its popularity. Ghost tapping into that mentality when we didn’t realise how much we all still needed was a stroke of genius.

This is arena rock. Doom-tinged, Satanic Panic, synth-powered, and fun as Hell.

Of course, to talk about Ghost, you have to address the imagery. The lore. Ghost as a band are a group of ‘Nameless Ghouls’, masked and robed mystery performers who are led by a revolving door of pontiffs. The title of Papa Emeritus is given to the frontman of Ghost, and they take on a sort of anti-pope visual style. This figure is replaced every album cycle, with a new Papa Emeritus being introduced to the world.

Of course, while the character changes, the actual person never changes. Tobias Forge is the man behind the mask as well as the mastermind of Ghost. For many years Tobias’ identity as Papa Emeritus was rumoured but never acknowledged by the band. In recent years, as Ghost’s popularity has skyrocketed (and with it m, interest in the mystery frontman), keeping something like that a secret became impossible and the truth was revealed. While Tobias now acknowledges he is Papa and has given interviews out of character, Ghost still perform in character and maintain the storyline.

While the imagery and story and characters of Ghost are all amazingly imagined and presented, the reality is all this showmanship could be stripped away, and the music alone would still be enough for Ghost to become one of the biggest rock bands of the last decade.