Ghost
Impera

I reviewed Ghost’s Meliora when it was released years ago. I did enjoy that album quite a lot, but also felt there was some filler on it.  The more I listen to that album, though, I truly appreciate it and love it.  It’s part of their first 3 albums, which are excellent as well as truly breaking some barriers in all of metal, that’s how I feel.  Yes, I love the band and have seen them live multiple times and they put on one helluva live show.

In 2018 they released their fourth album Prequelle, and I picked up the limited edition version and the album cover is still bonkers, off the wall killer, and quite honestly those were the highlights for me.  The album fell flat with many long-time fans because the more commercially and poppier accessible songs, the band would usually include on each of their albums, took center stage and was the entire album.  The heavier riffs, incorporating some of their prior influence like Mercyful Fate, Megadeth and Blue Öyster Cult were pretty much non existent and the songs were just poppy metal and happy songs.  Now the lyrical content of that album, was another thing that was creative-I like those lyrics, but honestly the band phoned that album in.  It’s part of my Ghost collection, but not an album I go back to listen to.  Many close friends, especially Jason “SlimShady in the Brambles”, felt the same about that album.

Then Ghost released a new single – “Hunter’s Moon” and I was like…well that’s the Ghost I love.  Immediately this new song crushed every song on Prequelle.  It was a return to form.  The thumping bass and heavy bass drums added to the greatness.  The return of their catchy guitar hooks, vocal lines, creepy melodies and speedier moments were also joined by a much heavier guitar tone, which was last heard on 2015’s Meliora.  Papa’s vocals were in top form and the speedy part was definitely a welcome return to their earlier recordings.  I was apprehensive though, thinking the rest of Impera would not be as good as this song, but I was wrong, hell Impera, is an excellent album and if you were to erase the sour and vomitrocious taste of Prequelle, from your mouth, than Impera should actually be their fourth album, it would have perfectly followed Meliora.

12 songs in 46 minutes, 3 of which are instrumentals and the already awesome “Hunter’s Moon” are on this album.  After the opening instrumental, “Kaisarion” then comes blasting in with an almost AC/DC classic opening guitar riff and Papa lets out a scream to wake the dead.  The song is on the poppier side of things, but immediately noticeable are the guitar hooks and tight rhythm section.  The catchy riffs and vocal patterns are such a welcome return and check out the guitar melodies.  Drenched in classic metal sounds and blood and sweat, is what this song is about.  The song has some speedier moments and the chorus is too damn catchy.  This is a fun and catchy album opener.  “Spillways” has moments that would not be out of place on their second scorching album Infestissumam.  Epic vocal patterns, 80’s sounding keyboards and a nice guitar solo.  Great song and some cool drum patterns.  The damn chorus is beyond catchy.  If you’re not singing this song, right after the song ends, it’s because “Call Me Little Sunshine” is up next.  This song plain rules.  Starting with an opening acoustic moment the thumping 808 bass drops are incorporated and was something actually not surprising to hear on a Ghost album.  They go for bombastic and over-the-top sounds so this fits with the song.  A slower and moodier piece I feel playing this song live, with that thumping bass, will be a highlight at that concert.  Super catchy, the song is drenched in atmospheric 80’s metal and I’d imagine fans would hold up their smartphone lights to this song.

“Watcher in the Sky” has Infestissumam and the band’s classic debut Opus Eponymous sound all over this track.  The song hops, almost makes you want to be-bop to it.  The double bass moments are well placed and the guitar riffs and melodies are perfect, especially when being played with the ridiculously catchy chorus.  This chorus and aria sounding vocals and epic buildup moments towards the end of the song is musical genius.  Who the F comes up with this stuff???  Oh yeah, Ghost does.  The song is terrific and then among all the other great songs, another standout is “Twenties”-my pick for the best song on this album.  Excellent buildup, which is brooding and then right into a thumping stop and start part with excellent sounding drums.  This song would have sounded awesome on any of their first 3 albums, but mainly Meliora, because this song has creepy and moody elements to it.  Vocal whispers and a wide range of other vocal tones from Papa erupt throughout the song.  The guitar tone is heavy and really pounds home that rhythm section.  Due to the drum pattern and parts of the guitar riffs one could almost suggest this has a poly-rhythmic element and it works well.  The chorus and guitar melodies and a plethora of sounds are beyond catchy and hey those lyrics are terrific. I never thought I’d hear Papa sing “Listen up, you motherfuckers..”, but he sure does on this song.  It’s tongue and cheek, as the lyrics are on this song, but man I love this part and the song.

The rest of Impera is also great and also features the best production to date on any Ghost album.  Beyond loud, over the top and the mix captures all their nuances which make Ghost great.  To have Ghost return to form is such a sigh of relief, since I appreciate this band quite a lot and feel the hatred from some people, regarding this band, is unwarranted-but to each their own, right?  If you disliked their prior album (the album which shall no longer be named) then rest assured, this is not like that album but is a continuation and call to roots, of their first 3 albums.  Impera has an outstanding album cover and checks out the extensive cd booklet.  The band has always put a lot of energy into making their booklets packed with lyrics, drawings and pictures and this one is excellent.  Yes, Ghost has returned to form with Impera, yes this album rocks and quite honestly will be a highlight for me, by year’s end and beyond.  I’ve listened to this album, since it was released, about 50x already.  Buy or Die!

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
March 21st, 2022

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    Okay, you’re right. I liked this album at first but hated “Twenties.” Then the album started to grow and I actually like that song. It fits with the more tongue-in-cheek Ghost moments. This has quickly become one of my favorites in their discography and I didn’t see it coming. Nice review. I would be surprised if I’m not still listening to it at year’s end as well.


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