GHOST has unveiled the "new" Papa in a three-minute video clip titled "Introducing The Cardinal." In the clip, the band's "new" leader comes face-to-face with an aged Papa Emeritus Zero and Sister Imperator after arriving from behind a door, bathed in red light. The new Papa, who is named Cardinal Copia and apparently isn't a part of the Papa Emeritus bloodline at all, sports a thin mustache and has heterochromia iridum, a condition where the iris of one eye is a different color than the iris of the other eye.
The last Papa, Papa Emeritus III, was forcibly taken from the stage during the final show of the band's "Meliora" tour cycle last fall, with Papa Zero arriving to announce the beginning of "the Middle Ages." Of course, all the Papas — except the elder Zero — are the same man, GHOST founder and vocalist Tobias Forge.
Forge's new alter ego will make his live debut on May 5 as the Swedish band kicks off a run of North American dates in Riverside, California.
The "Rats On The Road" trek, as it's called, will be in support of the group's fourth studio LP, which is tentatively due in June via Loma Vista Recordings. The disc was recorded last year at Artery studios in Stockholm with producer Tom Dalgety (OPETH, ROYAL BLOOD) and was mixed in January at Westlake Studios in West Hollywood, California with Andy Wallace (NIRVANA, SLAYER). Songtitles set to appear on the LP include "Rats", "Life Eternal", "Faith" and "Dance Macabre".
"Rats", the album's first single, is expected to arrive later this month.
Forge told Revolver about the upcoming album: "It is loosely themed around the concept of death and doom. It's a themed album around medieval times, but it's definitely clinging onto a lot of very current things. The Black Death [plague] is a great example of a turning point for a whole civilization. Complete villages were annihilated. Most people knew very little, so all of it was God or the Devil — and about their faith being questioned: Why are we being stricken down by this great scourge? It must be because of our not fearing God enough and all this superstitious bullshit.
"There's a lot that you would recognize today in online mannerisms," he continued. "In many ways, we've gone back a few steps because now it's closer to how it was back in the old days when people were standing at the square and all of a sudden, it's like in Monty Python's 'Life Of Brian': 'Stone him! Ra! Ra! Ra!' Public trials are very unsupervised and extremely swift and speak to the most primordial parts of us."
In a separate interview with Metal Hammer, Forge talked about the musical direction of GHOST's new album, saying: "It's a very bright-sounding record. And it's a very heavy record, I'd say, but not from a Metal Hammer point of view, meaning all metal through and through. But it's a heavy record with a heavy theme. I think the overall ambience is very serious.
"Technically, a GHOST song could just be piano and vocals but it could also be full pounding, heavy-thrashing hard rock," he added. "I'm not in any way comparing us to them but I guess our modus operandi is a little like what QUEEN did — just decide to play really good songs and not focus too much on sticking to a recipe."
Forge last year revealed his identity while responding to a lawsuit filed by four former members of GHOST, who accused him of cheating them out of their rightful share of the profits from the group's album releases and world tours.