The 10 best Ghost songs not by Ghost

Papa Emeritus III onstage with Ghost in 2017
(Image credit: Steve Jennings/WireImage)

If you’re anything like us, there can never be enough Ghost in your life. Since Tobias Forge’s hooded cult released their very first album, they’ve been impossible to ignore, pairing excellently crafted doom songs with stunning theatrics. The only problem is that no one else does what this band do as well as them.

… Actually, that may not be true. Since Ghost popped up (and, in some cases, just before), a select few bands have proven that they too have mastered the art of satanic yet inviting hard rock hymns. Below are 10 songs that Ghost didn’t write, but are more than worthy of a spot in the masked mavens’ catalogue.

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Subvision – Room 611 (So Far So Noir, 2006)

So, you want songs that sound like Ghost. Why not go straight to the man himself? Before he became the pontiff of arena-metal, Tobias Forge led goth rockers Subvision, whose output sounds strikingly similar to what he’s doing nowadays. Room 611, the opener of sole album So Far So Noir, is a moody yet melodic piece that flaunted Tobias’ crowd-pleasing potential early. Turns out, all that was missing was a skeletal pope outfit. Who knew?

Magna Carta Cartel – Turn (The Demon King, 2017)

Another former Tobias Forge outfit, Magna Carta Cartel initially featured the now-frontman on bass, with future Nameless Ghoul Martin Persner on vocals and guitar. After Martin got excommunicated from the doom metal church, he restarted his old band in 2017. MCC unsurprisingly have plenty in common with Ghost, including a propensity for pop melody. They push that pomp into a more silken ’80s AOR direction, though, with Turn being an understated and seductive anthem.

Green Lung – Maxine (Witch Queen) (This Heathen Land, 2023)

Green Lung are far from mere Ghost wannabes. The now-London-based quintet grew up in the countryside and worshipped at the altars of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and when they formed they channelled that heritage into hypnotic proto-metal about the myths of rural Albion. Maxine (Witch Queen) is the most condensed song on new album This Heathen Land, though, so comparisons to Tobias Forge’s cult are inevitable. Still, it’s an absolute, inarguable pop-metal banger.

Jess And The Ancient Ones – World Paranormal (Vertigo, 2021)

Jess And The Ancient Ones formed in 2010 (the same year Ghost’s debut came out), so saying these Finns take influence from Tobias’ cult would likely be a lie. Nonetheless, the two bands share an adoration for palatable, occult and psychedelic songwriting. Case in point: World Paranormal. On the second song of latest album Vertigo, the Finns layer singer Jasmin “Jess” Saarela’s scrambling vocals and one hell of a hook atop barrels of ’70s rock bluster.

The Devil’s Blood – Christ Or Cocaine (The Time Of No Time Evermore, 2009)

The Devil’s Blood were a short-lived and criminally underrated Dutch rock collective, who were active from 2006 to 2013. Like Jess And The Ancient Ones, then, there’s no direct Ghost influence here. That said, this lot promoted themselves as “psychedelic rock ’n’ roll in honour of the Devil”, so there would inevitably be some similarities. If anything, the addictive, atheistic swagger of 2009’s Christ Or Cocaine actually perfected the Ghost formula before Ghost even got the chance.

Mountain Witch – The Dead Won’t Sleep (Burning Village, 2016)

Mountain Witch have changed a lot since they first started in 2008. Originally, the German occult rockers were an instrumental stoner duo, graduates of the school built by Black Sabbath. However – with the addition of a bassist, vocals and lashings of ’70s rock influence – they’ve become acidic-sounding melody makers. The Dead Won’t Sleep, like any prime cut of Ghost, is a whirlwind of Blue Öyster Cult riffing, danceable basslines and beautifully overblown pop sensibility. 

Church Of The Cosmic Skull – Sorcery & Sabotage (Everybody’s Going To Die, 2019)

Church Of The Cosmic Skull want you to switch religions. If you’re ever curious to expand your spiritual beliefs beyond Ghost’s satanic halls, this lot will be waiting, their gospel-esque outfits and Queen-inspired hard/prog rock ready to sweep you up. UK TV fixture Jonathan Ross is an outspoken fan, and, when you hear the singalongs of Sorcery & Sabotage, you’ll understand why. The guitar theatrics and gang chants only make this single even more tempting.

Sonja – Nylon Nights (Loud Arriver, 2022)

Melissa Moore’s musical journey is strikingly similar to Tobias Forge’s. Both established themselves to a cult audience in the extreme metal space (Tobias with death metal; Melissa with black metal), then swerved into making far more pop-flecked majesty. Melissa is now the figurehead of Sonja, whose debut album, Loud Arriver, practically oozes with rock, glam and goth sexuality. Single Nylon Nights summarises the irresistibility the Pennsylvanians deal in, and we anticipate a mainstream breakthrough soon.

Spell – Fever Dream (Tragic Magic, 2022)

Since forming in western Canada in 2013, Spell have become occult rock underdogs, beloved by diehards for knowing their way around a good, necromantic jam. On Fever Dream, a single from 2022’s sublime Tragic Magic, the Vancouver trio serenade the listener with luscious vocal melodies, booty-shaking bass and alluring lyrics. It’s a surprisingly beautiful end result, given the song was initially inspired by the darkest visions singer/bassist ​​Cam Mesmer has ever had in his sleep.

Wytch Hazel – Spirit And Fire (III: Pentecost, 2020)

If you plan to embark on a mediaeval crusade in the near future, Wytch Hazel should be your soundtrack. This English congregation are very much the yin to Ghost’s yang, weaving triumphant-sounding rock with themes of classic heroism in the name of God. It might seem a bit corny, or not “rebellious” enough for the heretical metal scene, but stick Spirit And Fire on and you’ll be picking up a sword and armour within minutes. 

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.