If you’re a rock fan and you’ve somehow managed to avoid the band Ghost since their last record Prequelle hit stores in 2018, I congratulate you on your impressive aversion to anything remotely mainstream. The band have been dominating the rock charts with songs like “Rats,” “Square Hammer,” and “Dance Macabre.” It’s clear that Ghost’s new 1980s-inspired sound has taken the world by storm in recent years, earning them support slots alongside Metallica and Iron Maiden. However, many agreed that Prequelle slightly missed the mark when it came to fully exploring this change in musical direction. The same cannot be said for their new album, Impera, as the band kick the 80s influence into overdrive and proudly display their myriad of influences from Rush and Foreigner to ABBA.
After an introductory passage, the record starts triumphantly with an electrifying glam-metal shriek that sets the tone going forward. “Kaisarion” features lush harmonies, an impressive lead guitar display and some of Tobias Forge’s finest lyrics to date, centering around the rise and fall of empires throughout the ages.
Following on from this, “Spillways” is a pop-metal titan with an impressively catchy chorus. This is where the aforementioned pop song-writing sensibilities reach their height. As Impera progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that almost any song from the record could have been a single.
Speaking of which, the two singles, “Call Me Little Sunshine” and “Hunter’s Moon” are both excellent. The former attempts to recapture the feeling of “Cirice,” a song the band won a Grammy for in 2016. The song’s dark grooves feel out of place in the context of the album but the song is excellent nonetheless. On the other hand, “Hunter’s Moon” fits the tone of the record perfectly. From it’s infectious lead guitar melodies, to one of the heavier riffs on the album—the song is a highlight.
More by the author: Sound Design as Music: How Mick Gordon Embodies the Modern Music Producer
Continuing on the heavier side of things, “Watcher in the Sky” is a guitar player’s dream Ghost song. Stomping riffs and interesting, angular verse melodies are let down somewhat by a lengthy fade-out that overstays it’s welcome.
“Twenties” is a disappointing lowlight on an otherwise excellent outing for the Swedish band. With a monotonous chorus and the odd cringe-inducing lyric, the song feels tonally distant from some of the other tracks. However, the album’s closing moments are some of the finest.
“Darkness at the Heart of my Love” is Ghost’s finest ballad to date. “Griftwood” is a catchy, Van Halen-inspired song that lyrically aims itself at American politics. And, finally, “Respite on the Spitalfields” is a poignant closer that brings the album’s themes full circle.
In conclusion, Impera is a phenomenal record and may just be the band’s best. With minimal filler and maximum killer, Tobias Forge and co. have managed to effortlessly combine their pop-rock sensibilities with the metal elements that garnered Ghost their initial popularity. If you haven’t given the band a listen, now might be the perfect time to give them a try!
Raised on the evergreen rock gods of ‘Priest and ACDC, Max has been surrounded by music that’s hard and heavy from a young age. Music; among many other interests such as sci-fi, fantasy, sound design and herps (reptiles and amphibians), has always been a part of his life and Max is never happier than when he finds a new band to share with the world! He’s also in a classic metal band called Underking!