Here’s every album Tobias Forge has made outside of Ghost, ranked from worst to best

Tobias Forge of Ghost, ext to album art by Repugnant and Subvision
(Image credit: Press)

You all know who Tobias Forge is – even if he initially didn’t want it that way. The Swedish metal figurehead first emerged fully masked and with one contact lens, leading the seductive devil church Ghost as their pontiff, Papa Emeritus. However, the now-arena-sized cult were far from Tobias’ first foray into music making. He has a rich CV behind him, which includes far obscurer names like Superior, Crashdïet and Onkel Kånkel.

We’ve already listed every band the man was in before Ghost, but now it’s time to take a more in-depth look at the albums Tobias made without concealing his countenance. Below, Hammer’s ranked every full-length studio LP (no EPs, guest spots or demos, thanks) the musician masterminded as a pre-Ghost polymath.

Metal Hammer line break

Honourable mention: Tobias Forge – Passiflora (recorded 2008)

In March 2024, this was one of metal’s biggest news stories. Record-selling site Discogs reported that a megafan had purchased a CD of an unreleased Tobias Forge solo album, Passiflora, for an eye-watering $5,434 (£4,237.95).

Seldom is known about the mysterious recording, not even its full track listing and run-time, but there are soundbites out there. Songs from it called House Of Affection and In Enigma Schiffer are on Youtube, and they flaunt a dreamy, psychedelic style with some characteristically alluring vocals. They’re truly beautiful pieces, yet alas, we still haven’t heard the whole thing, so it would be unfair to give the record a place within our rankings proper. Still, seek the tracks out and you’ll hear plenty of the intrigue that later made Ghost stars.

3. Repugnant – Epitome Of Darkness (2006)

Certain pundits will tell you that Repugnant were cult favourites, quintessential in reigniting Sweden’s love for no-frills death metal music. However, this is historical revisionism. Tobias said to Guitar World in 2022, “We were rejected by every fucking label. When we called it quits, we felt like such a side note; we didn’t mean anything, except to a few people.”

Though Tobias has turned countless mainstream heads with Ghost, Repugnant’s sole album was very much him preaching to the converted. It’s diehard death metal for diehard death metal fans, and it’s done well, evoking the chainsaw guitar tone of masters like Entombed. However, the melodic majesty and innovation that we know the man behind Papa for nowadays is absent. Epitome Of Darkness offers some endearing extreme metal rambunctiousness, but it’s only for those already invested.

2. Magna Carta Cartel – Goodmorning Restrained (2009)

Officially, Ghost were activated in 2006, and two of the band’s original lynchpins, Tobias and guitarist/former Nameless Ghoul Martin Persner, also started Magna Carta Cartel the same year. Initially, it was MCC who had the greater momentum of the twin projects, releasing their debut EP Valiant Visions Dawn in 2008 and a full-length followup the next year. Goodmorning Restrained is a truly beautiful record, employing a far spacier sound than anything Tobias has put his stamp on before or since.

Opener That It’s Already Too Late is dreamy post-rock, while Sunsettlers is an acoustic rock jam and Deriving A Distance evokes the mellower end of Blue Öyster Cult. The downside is that Goodmorning… is so relaxed that it can sometimes drift away, offering little in the way of urgent melody to keep the listener hooked throughout.

1. Subvision – So Far, So Noir (2006)

Although Magna Carta Cartel and Ghost were projects joined at the hip in the early days, Subvision are the band that has the strongest sonic connection to what the swaggering satanists evolved into. Tobias is again joined by Martin Persner here, plus another eventual Ghoul in bassist Gustaf Lindström. And – through the dark yet irresistible goth rock of So Far, So Noir – it’s easy to glimpse the songwriting that would later create Square Hammer and Mary On A Cross.

Subvision’s only album is stacked with bleak bangers. Room 611’s instrumental chorus is an instant attention-grabber, doubled down upon by the goodtime howls of “I’m gonna dance! Dance!” during Killing Floor. We’re not going to pretend that So Far… is up to Ghost’s untouchable standard – Tobias’ vocals aren’t as confident as the ones he’d demonstrate via Papa later on – but it’s easily the most promising statement of their leader’s pop-savvy potential before he took over the heavy music world.

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.