Swedish hard rock/heavy metal band Ghost, formerly named Ghost B.C., are in part characterized by their theatrical costumes that accompany the band’s releases and performances as a secondary artistic endeavor. Their latest costumes made their debut alongside Ghost’s most recent album, Impera. As opposed to their previous costumes, which often tackled and subverted Christian imagery (particularly in reference to the papacy), the Impera ensembles take inspiration from the Tusken Raiders, a people from the Star Wars universe.
Ghost has had an eventful year in addition to their costume evolution. They released their tenth installment of their video series, “Chapter 10: Home Coming & Specific Guests.” In celebration of their then-upcoming album, they also released a livestream performance.
Vocalist and songwriter Tobias Forge of Ghost described the band’s latest transformation for Revolver: ““I wanted a sort of militant look, but any time you have people in uniform and in plural, you end up with a slight military vibe. But I wanted to progress that from cult members to more like an army. So you have a little bit of Thirties European there, and also old air-pilot helmets. As a Star Wars fan, I’ve always been into the Tusken Raiders and their sort of lifeless look, so that was also part of it.”
The meaning doesn’t end there. Forge also said in his interview with J. Bennett of Revolver that this album discusses “spiritual annihilation” where an earlier album, 2018’s Prequelle, covered “physical annihilation.” The 2018 record discussed the bubonic plague and intentionally used it as a parallel for the COVID-19 pandemic while donning costumes referencing holy Catholic garments.
Ghost have interestingly chosen to wear “militant” costumes while turning their attention to “spiritual annihilation,” perhaps making the claim that agents of violence affect people in ways beyond just physical. The album’s name, Impera, actually references imperialism. When asked about the meaning behind this title and album as a whole, Forge said, “this is more about empire and its mechanisms of self-destructing… [The] last couple of years, there have been strong signs of someone or some kind of mechanism pushing buttons that are insanely destructive.”
Ghost’s Star Wars-inspired costumes mark another chapter in the band’s social commentary, revealed in tandem with their album Impera, which discusses practices of imperialism and colonialism relevant to listeners everywhere.
Photo Credit: Boston Lynn Schulz