If you've been following ZRockR for a while, then you know it is no secret that we love Ghost. Papa Emeritus (Tobias Forge) and the Nameless Ghouls have returned with the release of their fifth full length album, Impera.
You almost never know what to expect from Ghost when it comes to their records. Each album seems to contain a common theme. Upon looking at the album cover, you'd think this would be something dealing with magic and mystery, as we see Papa donning the classic Aleister Crowley pose.
In a recent interview, Forge stated that the concept of this album was thought up after reading The Rule of Empires: Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall. The album is a follow up to 2018's Prequelle, which was themed based around the Black Plague.
The Quintessential Ghost Sound.
Impera opens with an instrumental track, keeping with the theme that every Ghost album has one, called "Imperium". It's soft. Haunting. Inviting. Then it is followed up with "Kaisarion", which has a Meliora type feel. This makes sense since the album was produced and mixed by Klas Ahlund and Andy Wallace, who also had their hands in the band's 2015 record.
"Kaisarion" sings almost of hope. Lyrically, it creates imagery, while it's vocal melody screams of a musical theatre feel. That is not a knock at all, but if Forge ever did decide to take Ghost to Broadway, this would need to open the show. It's fun, upbeat, and a song I found myself softly dancing along to in my seat as I listened.
"Spillways" keeps it going with heavy keyboards and multi tracked vocal lines. It is obvious when listening to this that Forge has a deep love for synth pop. Cutting through the keyboards comes a fast guitar solo before jumping back into the catchy hook of a chorus.
Following "Spillways", we are treated to "Call Me Little Sunshine", which was released in January 2022. Much darker in tone, both instrumentally and lyrically, appearing to be told from the perspective of the Devil, or Mephistopheles. Some also have mentioned it referencing The Golden Dawn, which Crowley was a part of, since the album art was released along with the song.
The first single off of Impera was released Autumn of 2021 as part of the Halloween Kills soundtrack. When it was released and I first heard it, I'm not sure why, but it took a bit for it to grow on me. That being said, "Hunter's Moon" doesn't waste time to pull you in. There's no excess of intro. No pomp and frill. It's was a perfect fit for the soundtrack, and a good choice for a first single.
A couple tracks ahead and you get the newest single, "Twenties". Immediately, the ears are greeted with horns, which is unusual for Ghost, but equally unsettling. The horns don't last long though before intense drum and heavy guitar joins in along with growls, deep voices, and whispers. This song is everything that Ghost is. It's horrifying, enthralling, and melodic. It tells a story, and with the state of the world as it is now, it rings even truer.
Closing out the album is "Respite On the Spitalfields", which has a ballad-like feel. If you didn't have the vocal line, you could easily mistake this for a b-side off of Def Leppard's Hysteria. The guitar and drums play off of each other beautifully in a soft dance. Lyrically though, I don't think Joe Elliott would've sang this, but it is perfectly done by Papa.
Per usual, Ghost has delivered a solid record. I have 0 complaints. Although they did not grace Vegas this tour, I am hoping with the new release that there will be more North American dates, because after this most recent pandemic, I need some Papa and the Nameless Ghouls in my life, and I need to see these songs performed before my eyes.