Ghost – Impera

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Since 2010 Swedish occult rock band Ghost began to achieve the worldwide success which ultimately put them at the forefront of contemporary rock bands. The quirky combination of classic Mercyful Fate, ABBA, and Black Sabbath worked as a potent concoction that would attract fans around the globe. Ghost stage shows are renown for their satanic theatrics and it’s probably best displayed by the frontman Tobias Forge aka “Papa Emeritus IV”. While the lyrical content carries subtle messages, Ghost’s music soars with sonic vibrancy and hymnal melodies joined by church organ and raucous guitar riffs and despite all the lush soundscapes, the thrilling vocals and songs are filled with catchiness and hooks.

Indeed, one might think about how the band has reached such a level of quality and refinement which actually brings us to the fifth album “Impera”. The album opens with the beautiful instrumental piece “Imperium” which is wrought with luxuriant textures of acoustic guitar and the highly melodious tone of the guitar solos adds further dramatic scale to the album’s intro. The expertise of ingraining  80’s rock music is the focal point and in spite of some stylistic changes Ghost’s music is still completely recognizable. Tobias Forge‘s affection for rock music brings a variety of styles therefore “Impera” offers some of the catchiest and sensational melodies. It is true that the music has become modern and maybe less heavy than before, the vocals are just sweet and mesmerizingly eerie and have an infectious quality. The catchy poppy tunes of 80’s rock and pop on “Kaisarion” convey all the thrills and the buzzing guitars are heavy-hitting fused with elements of modern rock. Hooky choruses and soaring guitar solos are riddled with Tobias Forge‘s melodic vocals, the music literally thunders out from the speakers, and the synth makes your blood pump. The process of refinement took a major change from occult rock/doom on the band’s debut album “Opus Eponymous” to Ghost weaving its own style-shifting slowly to sound more vibrant. Therefore “Impera” seems all booming with powerful rhythms.

Spillways” is wrapped around inspiring 80’s rock beats where the vocals are just smooth and superb. They are conveyed in the grandiloquent ritual of Ghost’s cinematic art. The vocal harmonies are rhetorically driven with catchy guitar lines before the chorus unveils the bombastic vocal arrangements. Given how catchy the music is, the songs are delicately melodic. “Call Me Little Sunshine” is ridiculously catchy where the songwriting is professionally crafted and overflowing with enthusiasm. At times the melodies turn into a powerful ballad and the interplay between the towering solos and vocals adds appealing textures to the music. Songs like “Hunter’s Moon” and “Watcher In The Sky” are effectively crafted with heavy guitars and pounding drum beats that recreate darker textures. The fifth album is quite extravagant and incredibly catchy, but at the same time Ghost combines new twists that only can be described as flamboyant. “Twenties” is by far the most bizarre, complex and intriguing song in the band’s musical canons, the guitar riffs swell against the buzzing bass guitar setting unique and powerful or rather danceable tunes. The stylish and funky obscurities will make you rave under the moon all night long… while the dynamics of the guitars and drums have the stomping effect on the listener making the album as enticing as elegant.

Darkness at the Heart of My Love” will send you over the moon with plenty of hooks and hypnotic vocals. This romantic ballad combines traditional heavy metal riffs. In spite of the emotional bluster, abrasive guitar riffs, and the melodious quality of the vocals, “Impera” probably lacks the dark and haunting aura of the past albums despite the theme of “the rise and fall of empires”. Ghost reminiscences over the bygone era of hair metal, and rock music there are plenty of influences from bands like Queen, Van Halen, and even Kiss but they’re subtly patterned between the songs. “Griftwood” is richly textured by these strong 80’s rock vibes blending diverse elements like the intensity and heaviness of the guitars. And focusing on the catchiness of the melodies suggests that Ghost achieved a nuanced approach by refining their sonic framework. The opulent scale of the guitar arrangements on the final track “Respite On The Spitalfields” contains infectious vocal lines yet along with the soaring vocals the lead guitars set the grandiose score. Gentle vocals uplift the mood while the guitar solo is fluently catchy the captivating synth textures ornament the sonic architecture. “Impera” marks yet another new evolution of the band’s musical approach, highlighting the modern qualities that has made Ghost so famous today.

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 9/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 9/10
  • Mix / Production 9/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 9/10
  • Originality 9/10
9

“Impera” is a transitional stride to the edifice despite the catchiness of the music and intellectual innovation Ghost wouldn’t have achieved such dexterity without albums like “Prequelle” and “Meliora”.

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