How James Hetfield Helped Ghost Become The Biggest Metal Band Of The Decade


If 2022 has proven anything in metal, it’s that Ghost are the most celebrated and talked about band of their entire generation. With the latest album Impera beating it to charts around the world and Swedes playing huge venues across the US and Europe, it’s hard to think of another metal band to emerge in the early 2010s that garnered a such success.

And one of the biggest supporters of the group during all this time? The greatest metal band of them all – Metallica, whose frontman James Hetfield sang Ghost’s praises from the start, backed them through the early gigs, and played a big part in Metallica taking the band under his wing in the years that followed.

It was 2011 in Gothenburg, the Swedish edition of the Sonisphere festival where, wearing one of Ghost’s first iconic t-shirts, Hetfield was asked about his love for the band, whose hype was still in its infancy. stammering.

“I’m in their fan club,” he told SVT with a laugh. “I had no idea what they looked like until I saw the video [of them performing live]. I heard the music first and thought it was very good, very unique, very melodic and a breath of fresh air for metal. It reminded me a bit of the kind of 70s rock that I also liked. So yeah, I love the band.”

“James was wearing a Ghost shirt backstage before the show, so the TV host started asking him about us,” A Nameless Ghoul told Music Radar when discussing the interview years later. . “We were actually on a plane at the time, so when we landed, we turned on our phones and all these messages came in! ‘He’s wearing the shirt!’ Everyone was like, ‘Hey man, forget the 20 dollars you owe me, I love you!'”

Less than a year later, James Hetfield would make the effort to go see the band live at their first-ever gig in his beloved city of San Francisco, at an intimate 350-seat venue called Bottom Of The Hill. February 1, 2012.

“James came to see us at our first show in San Francisco at this little venue, which was more like a cafe,” A Nameless Ghoul continued. “We were backstage in our underwear – it probably wasn’t the best way to meet your idol for the first time. Then he came after the show. Of course, we were in our underwear again. Come to think of it, I’ve met James several times in his underwear. It’s crazy. The guy is like royalty to us.

Clearly, the Ghost gigs made an impression on James – they were booked to play the very first edition of Metallica’s own festival, Orion Music + More, that summer, with Hetfield personally introducing the band on stage and saying to the crowd that they were one of his “favorite new bands”.

In 2018, James spotlighted Ghost again, covering Cirice during a jamming session that took place at Metallica headquarters. A clip from the cover immediately went viral, once again making the Ghost platform the biggest metal fan base on the planet.

While Tobias Forge’s team were no strangers to playing on Metallica bills at the time, having shared the stage on both Orion and various Sonisphere bills, in 2019 the connection between the two bands was taken to the next level when Ghost was chosen as main support on the final leg of Metallica’s world tour for the Wired… to self-destruct album, taking them to stadiums across Europe. It was a tour that Tobias would later rave about, giving Metallica credit for “taking such good care of us”.

With Ghost now firmly established as one of the biggest names in modern metal, Tobias – a lifelong Metallica fan – has no doubt how helpful all that support from James and the boys has been.

“Their support has been essential,” Tobias told Guitar World in October. “Since James started pushing the band about 10 years ago, from that point on, we definitely got more famous. We played at their Orion Music + More festival, and also toured with them when they were doing Sonisphere.

“Eventually they asked us to support them for a whole tour,” Tobias continued. “So I would say we had a kind of mentor/student relationship. It’s like, you know, the most miyagi of dojos – you get the sensei’s hand on you.”

Impera was released last month to rave reviews and will be taken on the road on Ghost’s European tour starting this weekend.

Phantom European Tour 2022

April 9: Manchester AO Arena, UK
April 11: London O2 Arena, UK
April 13: Glasgow OVO Arena
April 15: Birmingham Resorts World Arena
April 17: Rotterdam RTM Stage Ahoy, Netherlands
April 18: Paris Accor Arena, France
April 19: Cologne Lanxess Arena, Germany
April 21: Leipzig Quarterback Immobillen Arena, Germany
April 22: Frankfurt Festhalle, Germany
April 24: Prague Arena, Czech Republic
April 27: Tampere Nokia Arena, Finland
April 29: Stockholm Avicii Arena, Sweden
April 30: Oslo Spektrum, Norway
01 May: Malmo Arena, Sweden
May 03: Brussels Forest, Belgium
May 05: Mediolanum Forum in Milan, Italy
07 May: Barcelona Olympic Arena Badalona, ​​​​Spain
08 May: Madrid Vistalegre Arena, Spain
May 11: Vienna Stadthalle, Austria
May 13: Zurich Hallenstadion, Switzerland
May 15: Hannover Zag Arena, Germany
May 16: Munich Olympiahalle, Germany
May 18: Budapest Arena, Hungary


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