Although he has spent most of his public life under a mask, we all know who Tobias Forge is. He’s the mastermind behind occult melodies-makers Ghost, who exploded from antitheistic doom metal to deliver some of the biggest and catchiest songs in modern rock.
Ghost’s pageantry and songwriting are endlessly inventive, but even their universe doesn’t tell the full story of what Tobias can do. Before the band even started, they had spent 15 years playing everything from death metal to glam in the Swedish underground. Here is his complete resume reviewed.
Tobias was barely a teenager when he formed his first band, the black metal project Absurdum. The following year, he changed his name to Superior, and Tobias concocted the first of many stage names throughout his career: Don Juan Leviathan. Photos of Tobias in his teenage KVLT outfit even went viral in 2020. Unfortunately, Superior only recorded three demos before throwing in the towel in 1997.
Tobias enjoyed a cup of coffee in Swedish black metal villains Malign when they first formed in 1994. His tenure was very short-lived; he was already gone by the time they released their first demo a year later. Nonetheless, the power trio persists to this day. Guitarist Ynas “Mörk” Lindskog even joined Watain’s live lineup from 2001 to 2006. They also wrote the lyrics for Shining. Pretty good, guys.
Repugnant (1998–2004, 2010)
Repugnant has a cult following among death metallers. However, he largely amassed after the band broke up. Tobias’ subsequent success retroactively led to Repugnant being called the leader of the Swedish death metal revival. According to the man himself in a 2022 Guitar interview however, “We got rejected by all the fucking labels. When we called it, we felt like such a side note; we meant nothing except to a few people.
Using the stage name “Mary Goore” he originally dreamed up for Repugnant, Tobias co-founded this underground glam metal crew. His stint as a guitarist didn’t last long, however. He split up in 2002, potentially to focus on Repugnant’s debut album which he recorded the same year. Bassist Mace Kelly and drummer Tom Bones quit simultaneously, leaving vocalist Dave Lepard to take over the tracks with a new lineup. Fortunately, Crashdïet still exists today and has five albums to its credit.
Onkel Kånkel (early 2000s)
Tobias was playing guitar for these crass punk rockers at the start of the new millennium. Essentially the anal pussy of Sweden, their songs graphically and “comically” explore mental illness, homosexuality and pedophilia. All of this is unnecessary, immature and offensive; that’s the point, but that doesn’t make it any smarter. The extent of Tobias’ involvement with the band is unclear, although there are images of him, fresh-faced and long-haired, performing with them in 2002.
No subvision, no ghost. It’s that simple. Tobias formed these alt-punks in 2002 with two future Nameless Ghouls: Martin Persner and Gustaf Lindström. Their three EPS and their only full album, 2006 So far so black, rejected metal in favor of energetic chords and exuberant pop melodies. The origins of Prequel and Impera can easily be heard in some of these hooks. Unfortunately, the band wouldn’t do much else before they broke up 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 among those psychedelic alternative rockers. Their line-up was rounded out by another Nameless Ghoul-to-be, Simon Söderberg. Much like Subvision, Magna Carta Cartel was suspended when Ghost found its feet in the late 2000s. After Martin and Simon left Ghost in the summer of 2016, they reactivated the band, without Tobias. Since then, they’ve released two singles and an EP, with another release teased in the near future.
Ghost was Tobias’ last-ditch saloon. By 2006 he had a partner and two children, so the time he could spend playing with underground bands was limited. It was make or break time. Fortunately, the riff at Support 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 Eponymous album dropped out, Tobias had already eclipsed every other band he had been a part of.