The release of Ghost's fifth full length album, Impera, has been a massive success — it sold more copies in the U.S. in its first week than any other album so far this year and hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200. While Tobias Forge is unquestionably the band's mastermind, there are six outside writers on Impera who deserve some credit here as well, so let's learn more about who these... ghostwriters... are.

We already knew that Opeth's Fredrik Åkesson played guitar on this latest Ghost album, which Forge revealed at the top of the year in an interview with radio host Full Metal Jackie. It's also no secret that Forge is a frequent collaborator when it comes to both songwriting and tapping musicians to exact his vision in the studio, so the presence of shared songwriting credits on Impera is more of a rule than an exception in Ghost's history.

Forge likened himself to a "dictator" when it comes to songwriting and said, in spite of this that he still possesses the ability to work with people. "I found that I can work really well with someone I respect, who is always pushing for the best. They make me want to write better, to get my game up a little," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in February.

So, who are these songwriting subjugates? Spoiler: a lot of them work with gigantic pop artists — some of the biggest in the world.

The Outside Writers on Ghost's Impera

Klas Åhlund

Co-writer on:

Previous Ghost Writing Credits:
"From the Pinnacle to the Pit" (Meliora)
"Cirice" (Meliora)
"He Is" (Meliora)
"Mummy Dust" (Meliora)
"Absolution" (Meliora)
"Deus in Absentia" (Meliora)

Klas Åhlund first began working with Ghost on the 2015 album Meliora, which scored a Grammy award for Best Metal Performance for the single "Cirice." He served as the album's producer and was a crucial songwriting partner for Forge, with credits on six of the 10 tracks, one of them being the Grammy-winner.

Forge re-enlisted Åhlund on Impera, where he took a step back from the songwriting load, only contributing to "Griftwood," the track the Ghost mastermind confessed is about former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, whom he dubbed an "awful person."

Outside of his involvement with Ghost, Åhlund is the guitarist in Swedish rock band Teddybears and has previously worked as a co-writer and/or co-producer with some notable pop superstars such as Britney Spears, Kesha, Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry and Madonna.

Teddybears, "Cobrastyle" Music Video

Salem Al Fakir + Vincent Pontare

Co-writers on:
"Watcher in the Sky"
"Darkness at the Heart of My Love"

Previous Ghost Writing Credits:
"Kiss the Go-Goat" (Seven Inches of Satanic Panic)
"Mary on a Cross" (Seven Inches of Satanic Panic)
"Dance Macabre" (Prequelle)
"Life Eternal" (Prequelle)

For the 2019 EP Seven Inches of Satanic Panic, Forge partnered with the alternative pop duo Vargas & Lagola, comprised of songwriting and production partners Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare. Both have released albums as solo artists, but, by their powers combined, they've achieved even greater success and have co-authored hits by Avicii, Madonna, Katy Perry and others.

The two also worked with Forge on 2018's Prequelle with credits on "Dance Macabre" and "Life Eternal" and, on Impera, they had a heavy hand in shaping much of the record with a total of five songwriting credits.

Vargas & Lagola, "Roads"

Joakim Berg

Co-writer on:
"Respite in the Spital Fields"

Previous Ghost Writing Credits:

From 1990 through 2016, Joakim 'Jocke' Berg was the lead vocalist and guitarist for the highly decorated pop rock band Kent, who released 12 albums and notched a bevy of Swedish Grammy awards throughout their career.

The musician often shies away from interviews, which plays right into Ghost's previous era where anonymity and mystique were a huge factor.

He helped Forge bookend Impera with the first proper track (following an instrumental introduction) "Kaisarion" and the closer, "Respite on the Spitalfields."

Kent, "If You Were Here" Music Video

Max Grahn

Co-writer on:
"Call Me Little Sunshine"
"Hunter's Moon"

Previous Ghost Writing Credits:

The first two singles released off Impera were "Hunter's Moon," which was included on the soundtrack to the slasher flick Halloween Kills before the end of 2021 and, later, "Call Me Little Sunshine."

Both songs were aided by the talents of Max Grahn, who made his songwriting debut with Ghost on the standout 2022 effort. Unlike many of the contributors on the record, Grahn is a fully-fledged death metal musician who played drums on three early 2000s demos by Dissectum who later changed their name to The Shattering. Grahn bashed the skins on their 2005 record The Shattering Begins and he was the vocalist and bassist for Foreskin Fester from 2002 through 2005.

The Shattering, "The Shattering"

Peter Svensson

Co-writer on:

Previous Ghost Writing Credits:

Peter Svensson is best known as the chief songwriter and guitarist of indie rockers The Cardigans, but his works extends far beyond that group. He actually partnered with the aforementioned Joakim Berg in the band Paus, so there's songwriting familiarity between them even though they didn't work together in any known capacity on Impera.

As a producer and songwriter, Svensson's lavish accomplishments include hit-making with Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Justin Timberlake, Meghan Trainor, Ellie Goulding, Avril Lavigne, One Direction and more.

The Cardigans, "Lovefool" Music Video

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