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The meaning of the Ghost song “Spillways”



The meaning of the Ghost song “Spillways”

One of the most praised bands that appeared on the last decades, Ghost quickly became a worldwide sensation and they are only getting bigger after every new album they put out. Led by the Swedish singer and multi-instrumentalist Tobias Forge, who turns himself into Papa Emeritus on stage, the band already has five studio albums released besides many EPs and singles.


Their 2022 record “Impera” was a success and has many tracks that are already part of their most successful songs. One of them is “Spillways” that even had a special version with Def Leppard‘s vocalist Joe Elliott. The singer is a huge fan of the group and wanted to record with them.

Quite different to what you expect a Metal band to do, the song has a piano intro that people say it could be influenced by ABBA or 80s power ballads. But what is the meaning behind “Spillways”?

The meaning of the Ghost song “Spillways”

Although Ghost has a satanic imagery and talks a lot about death, the devil and hell, their sound is not always really heavy. They are a mix between Heavy Metal, Pop and many other styles and also are always trying to be funny and not to serious.

But when it comes to songwriting, Forge always find a deep meaning to his tracks. He is the mastermind behind the records and everything the band does. In an interview with Classic Rock in 2022 he explained that “Spillways” is the little part of the darkness everyone has inside that sometimes come out.

“This is an elegy for the darkness that most people have inside. When you have a dam, spillways are the run-offs so the dam won’t overflow. That darkness inside us needs to find its way out,” Tobias Forge said.

In the dictionary, the meaning of the word “Spillway” is close to that. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it is “a passage for extra water from a lake created by a dam. Or a wall built across a rive to hold back water”.

The description of his idea for the track and the meaning of the word shows how perfect his choice was for the title and chorus. The song talks about every bad thing we have inside. Also that we are always trying to contain or hide but eventually we can’t. “It’s your burning yearning need to bleed, Through the spillways (spillways),” the lyrics say.

The song was also influenced by ABBA

As Tobias revealed to Total Guitar in 2022, he is really flattered that people compared the intro for “Spillways” with ABBA. He revealed that the most successful Swedish band in history is one of his favorite bands of all time. They have been an influence to them, particularly in this song.

“I can proudly say ABBA are one of my favourite bands of all time. As a songwriter, I’ll always feel like I’m in the absolute shadow of their legacy. Because it’s hard to find such enormous talent and impeccably fine-tuned songwriting. They’ve been an influence on our songs in general. Maybe this one in particular,” Tobias Forge said.

He also recalled that Ghost recorded parts of “Impera” in Atlantis Studio in Stockholm, which was called Metronome Studio. It was where ABBA recorded many of their famous songs. They also already recorded in Benny Andersson’s own studio, which was where ABBA made their most recent album “Voyage”, released in 2021.

“Spillways” is one of the most famous songs from “Impera”. It was written by Forge, Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare. Both of them co-wrote many songs of the album with Forge.

The track was already heard almost 60 million times in Spotify and the video clip was seen more than 16 million times in Youtube. “Impera” also performed really well in the charts, peaking at number 2 on the United States Billboard 200.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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