Ghost has been holed up in the studio for a few months now, quiet ever since releasing the music video for “He Is” last August. A lot has changed since the band’s last album, Meliora, came out in 2015. After sharing an eclectic EP of covers, the band aired plenty of legal drama between the Nameless Ghouls and Papa Emeritus. In the process, the famously anonymous band revealed their true identities. In his first unmasked interview, the band’s leader Tobias Forge is now ready to talk about the upcoming fourth album.
Last year, Tobias began recording the album at Artery Studios in Stockholm; he’s now at Westlake Studios in West Hollywood. Already in the mixing process, Tom Dalgety is serving as producer.
In speaking to TeamRock, Tobias shared that:
It’s a very bright sounding record. And it’s a very heavy record, I’d say, but not from a Metal Hammer point of view, meaning all metal through-and-through. But it’s a heavy record with a heavy theme. I think the overall ambience is very serious.
Every time I write a song I try to come to terms with that. Technically, a Ghost song could just be piano and vocals but it could also be full pounding, heavy-thrashing hard rock. I’m not in any way comparing us to them but I guess our modus operandi is a little like what Queen did – just decide to play really good songs and not focus too much on sticking to a recipe.
He revealed that there’s “more of a piano presence” on this album – Elton John style. This performance style “makes the whole thing flourish in a way that I’ve never taken Ghost before.” Furthermore, the already theatrical band is going to get even more theatrical on album #4. Especially in the live setting, fans can expect tons of costumes and props.
Tobias told Revolver about the lyrical concept behind the new album:
It is loosely themed around the concept of death and doom. It’s a themed album around medieval times, but it’s definitely clinging onto a lot of very current things. The Black Death [plague] is a great example of a turning point for a whole civilization. Complete villages were annihilated. Most people knew very little, so all of it was God or the Devil — and about their faith being questioned: Why are we being stricken down by this great scourge? It must be because of our not fearing God enough and all this superstitious bullshit.
There’s a lot that you would recognize today in online mannerisms. In many ways, we’ve gone back a few steps because now it’s closer to how it was back in the old days when people were standing at the square and all of a sudden, it’s like in Monty Python’s Life of Brian: “Stone him! Ra! Ra! Ra!” Public trials are very unsupervised and extremely swift and speak to the most primordial parts of us.
The new album will open with a song called “Rats,” which chronicles the Black Death that hit in the 1340s. Against a very metal “wall of hard-edged guitars,” Papa Emeritus warns that “Them filthy rodents are now coming for your souls!” Tobias shared more about the song with Revolver:
It’s actually not technically about rodents. It’s about something spreading as wildfire and completely destroying things quicker than you know. It was how the plague started in Europe. It was basically a couple of merchant ships that had been over in Crimea. A few of them sailed into the port of Messina in Sicily, and according to the legend, from the ship came rats and they were carrying the fleas that had this bubonic plague. Almost everyone on the ship was dead and dying.
He also talks about a new song called “Dance Macabre”:
Europe was in this turmoil in the late 1340s. The plague is extremely fast. It starts off as the worst flu you’ve ever had and then it just goes worse and then you’re dead after three days. So people were lying in the streets — corpses and all the surroundings were just falling apart. All the brothels and pubs were thriving because people started partying literally like there was no tomorrow because they were gonna die. They were just going for it. “Dance Macabre” is capturing that joyous nocturnal sort of life in a disco song. [Laughs]
Another song, called “Faith,” is described as having “medieval creep-show rhythms and soaring guitars.” Based on that description alone, it sounds like a standout on the album already!
Ghost’s new album will close with a song titled “Life Eternal.”
After this whole album going in and out of that sort of mortality, let’s say you were given the opportunity to circumvent the natural order of things and given carte blanche to live forever. Would you want to do that? Is that something you would be willing to commit to?
On that song, Revolver calls out lines in which Papa Emeritus sings, “Is this the moment of just letting go?” and “Would you let me touch your soul forever?” In regards to the latter, Tobias stated:
Many people can relate to that, right? As a person who is not necessarily completely atheistic and believes in somewhat of a mumbo jumbo magical thinking, it’s obviously hard not to think about afterlife and how it all sort of circles around. And, you know, part of that is the whole idea of loving others and how that feels so eternal at certain points whereas if you have kids, it feels literally eternal. You cannot imagine not have them in your presence or in your mental presence at least for the rest of eternity.
Friendships and love affairs end. Some don’t, and those are the ones that fuck with you. [Laughs] I can be very cynical when it comes to stuff like that even though I’m married and I have a very, very happy relationship. Before I met her, I wouldn’t want to commit to anything. All I saw was marriages falling apart and I come from a broken home. I didn’t believe in it.
The pair of tell-all interviews ends with the most pressing question of all: When will the album be out? TeamRock got the answer:
It’s going to be out when it’s getting hot! It will be out sometime in the spring or summer. That would be my guess.
At this point, we’re only a few months away from getting Ghost’s fourth album! Now that we know about the medieval themes, theatrical overdrive, and have four new song titles, fans have a lot more to anticipate. As always, we’ll keep you posted about more album and single news. Keep checking back for all the latest Ghost music news.