Despite spending most of his public life under a mask, we all know who Tobias Forge is. He’s the mastermind behind occult melody-makers Ghost, who’ve exploded from antitheist doom metal to supplying some of the biggest and catchiest songs in modern rock.
Ghost's pageantry and songwriting is restlessly inventive, but not even their universe tells the entire story of what Tobias can do. Before the band even started, he’d spent 15 years playing everything from death metal to glam in the Swedish underground. Here’s his complete CV reviewed.
Absurdum / Superior (1994–1997)
Tobias was barely a teenager when he formed his first band, the black metal project Absurdum. The following year, it changed its name to Superior, and Tobias concocted the first of what would be many stage names throughout his career: Don Juan Leviathan. Photos of Tobias in his adolescent KVLT get-up even went viral in 2020. Sadly, Superior only recorded three demos before throwing in the towel in 1997.
Tobias enjoyed a cup of coffee in Swedish black metal nasties Malign when they first formed in 1994. His tenure was extremely short-lived; he’d already left by the time they released their debut demo just one year later. Nonetheless, the power trio persist to this day. Guitarist Ynas “Mörk” Lindskog even joined Watain’s live lineup from 2001 and 2006. They’ve written lyrics for Shining too. Pretty good going, lads.
Repugnant (1998–2004, 2010)
Repugnant have a cult following among death metalheads. However, it largely amassed after the band broke up. Tobias’ later success has retroactively led to Repugnant being called leaders of the Swedish death metal revival. According to the man himself in a 2022 Guitar interview though, “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.”
Using the 'Mary Goore' stage name that he originally dreamt up for Repugnant, Tobias co-founded this underground glam metal crew. His stint as their guitarist didn’t last long though. He split in 2002, potentially to focus on the Repugnant debut that he recorded that same year. Bassist Mace Kelly and drummer Tom Bones vacated simultaneously, leaving singer Dave Lepard to pick up the pieces with a new lineup. Happily, Crashdïet are still about today and have five albums under their belts.
Onkel Kånkel (early 2000s)
Tobias played guitar for these crass punk rockers at the start of the new millennium. Essentially the Anal Cunt of Sweden, their songs graphically and “comedically” explore mental illness, homosexuality and paedophilia. It’s all pointless, immature and offensive; that’s the point, but it doesn’t make it any smarter. The scale of Tobias’ involvement with the band is unclear, although there is footage of him, fresh-faced and long-haired, playing with them in 2002.
No Subvision, no Ghost. It’s as simple as that. Tobias formed these alt-punks in 2002 with two future Nameless Ghouls: Martin Persner and Gustaf Lindström. Their three EPS and sole full-length album, 2006’s So Far So Noir, rejected metal in favour of peppy chords and ebullient pop melodies. The origins of Prequelle and Impera can easily be heard in some of those hooks. Sadly, the band would do little else before splitting in 2008, as the members focused more of their energy on Ghost.
Magna Carta Cartel (2006–2009)
Before Ghost took off, Tobias and Martin Persner were also part of these psychedelic alt-rockers. Their lineup was completed by yet another Nameless Ghoul-to-be, Simon Söderberg. Much like Subvision, Magna Carta Cartel was put on hold as Ghost found their feet in the late 2000s. After Martin and Simon left Ghost in the summer of 2016, they reactivated the band, sans Tobias. Since then they’ve done two singles and an EP, with another release teased for the near future.
Ghost was the last-chance saloon for Tobias. By 2006, he had a partner and two children, so the time he could spend messing about in underground bands was limited. It was make or break time. Fortunately, the riff to Stand By Him came to him and shaped a concept that now rules the metal world: a band doubling as a Satanic church with a skeletal Bizarro Pope. By the time Opus Eponymous dropped, Tobias had already eclipsed every other band he’d been a part of.