Ghost (once known as Ghost B.C. in the U.S.) was fronted by Papa Emeritus who wore a skull mask and dressed like a "demonic anti-Pope. The backing band, Nameless Ghouls, looked like Darth Vader's personal minions. They wore silver masks with horns, satanic symbols and full-length hooded robes. It was a visual borne from a "love of horror films and the traditions of Scandinavian Metal."
Ghost formed in '08 and released their full-length debut album, "Opus Eponymous," two years later. Sophomore set, "Infestissumam," marked Ghost's major label debut. The album went to #1 in their native Sweden and made a small dent in the U.S. (after its release was delayed due to controversial - sexual - artwork that was eventually abandoned on all but limited editions).
As if their music and image weren't enough, Ghost embarked on a couple stunts to raise their profile.
Papa Emeritus II was introduced as the successor Papa Emeritus; believed to be the same person playing a new character.
A Facebook campaign endorsed the election of Ghost's frontman as the next Pope of the Catholic Church.
A more meaningful effort came with the release of the EP "If You Have Ghost." The five song set, produced by Dave Grohl (Nirvava, Foo Fighters), included covers of Abba and Depeche Mode.
"Meliora" (a Latin adjective meaning "better" or "for the pursuit of the better") dropped in '15 and was followed by the announcement that Papa Emeritus II had been "fired." His successor, Papa Emeritus III, was said to be II's "younger brother by three months." Okay.
Turned out losing the election for Pope had ramifications. Ghost was forced to reschedule a planned '15 Philadelphia concert due to security measures in effect for a visit by Pope Francis who was attending the World Meeting Of Families.
The concert was bumped three days until after the Pope left town. That was still a letdown for Ghost who had a publicity campaign to coincide with the Pope's visit.
"The band wanted to get really creative, and have their own Ghost motorcade where the singer would go around the city," said promoter Sean Agnew.
Soon, they faced an even stronger challenge. Ghost, Slipknot, Lamb Of God and Sevendust were among the nominees for the '16 Best Metal Performance Grammy. Ghost's "Meliora" took home the trophy.
Alluding to previous endeavors, Ghost unfurled the "Popestar" EP in '16. The set moved 21,000 copies in the U.S. during the first week of release to top both Billboard's Top Rock Albums (the first time an EP accomplished that feat) and Hard Rock Albums charts.
Ghost also topped the Active Rock chart with "Square Hammer." They were the first Swedish band to have a #1 song on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs chart.
To top it off, "Popestar" took home the trophy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album at the '17 Swedish Grammis Awards. It was the band's third Grammis win.
2010 Opus Eponymous