Ghost - Impera
Written By: Noam Asulin
Release Date - 11.3.2022
Label - Loma Vista
Before I started writing this review, I knew I needed to do in-depth research on "Ghost". Not because I do not know the band, but because in its 16 years of existence "Ghost" has gone through quite a bit and its success has been meteoric.
"Ghost" was founded in 2006, by singer and multi-instrumentalist Tobias Forge in Linköping, Sweden. So far the band has released 5 albums. It's hard to define the style of this band. You could say it revolves around hard rock, glam, doom, heavy, progressive metal, and a few other genres.
Apart from Tobias, the band's founder, the other members are not known by their real names, but are called "Nameless Ghouls". They all dress in the same way except Tobias whose character has changed through the years and he's the only one whose real identity is known over the years.
Between the years 2010-2017, Tobias' characters were "Papa Emeritus / II / III", when in 2018 his character changed to "Cardinal Copia" and two years later again changed to "Papa Emeritus IV". The band members imitate members of a Catholic church. They worship the devil and not the Holy Trinity. Each member of the band (except Tobias) has a symbol on the garment that symbolizes the instrument he is playing (lead guitar-fire, bass-water, keyboards-wind, drums-earth, rhythm guitar-the fifth element). Since 2015 all members have all the symbols on their outfits, with the symbol representing the instrument on which they play highlighted. In 2018, another guitarist joined the band, two keyboardists known as "Ghoulettes" and a saxophonist known as "Papa Nihil", with Tobias' character "Papa Emeritus", actually representing a satanic priest.
Before approaching the review itself it is worth mentioning the band's meteoric rise. The band recorded their first album, "Opus Eponymous" in the basement of Tobias and released it under the independent record company "Rise Above Records". The album managed to sweep many fans and received good reviews, which led to the band's next album "Infestissumam", already being released under a big label - "Loma Vista", a subsidiary of "Atlantic Records" / "Universal". Since then the band has only gained more and more success and even appeared with one of the singles from the "Impera" on Jimmy Kimmel's show in the US.
All band members were replaced in 2018, after previous band members filed a lawsuit against Tobias due to an unknown dispute.
After this introduction, which tries to explain what exactly is going on in the band, let's approach the fifth album - "Impera". The theme of the album is the rise and fall of empires. The album is defined as one that takes place thousands of years after the 14th century, the period on which the band's previous album "Prequelle" is based on. When asked about the idea behind the album, Tobias explained that the inspiration came to him after reading a book called "The Rule of Empires: Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall", written by author Timothy Parsons.
The album begins with "Imperium", an intro section interesting enough not to skip it. The next song “Kaisarion” highlights something very dominant on this album. The production. Already in this track, you can hear how grandiose and rich the production is. In terms of the mix, everything is in the right place, even the bass which is always very important for me to hear. Throughout the album, there is a sense that the songs are very much influenced by the rock of the eighties.
The sixth track "Watcher In the Sky" is in my opinion the strongest track on the album. It starts with a calm melody, when after a few seconds the guitars come in with an addictive riff. Tobias sounds wonderful and the bass kicks and is very bold. The chorus is catchy and the keyboards are also very dominant. The solo in C-part is simply stunning.
The next track “Dominion”, which serves as a bridge is very boring in my opinion and I tend to skip it. It is followed by "Twenties" which came out as the third single from the album. When I first heard it I raised an eyebrow. This song is a weird one compared to the rest of the album. It starts with trumpets in a kind of oriental tempo (not in sound, only in the way it is played). The point is that the more I heard it the more I fell in love with it and this is my second favorite song on the album. It has an addictive charm and the solo towards the middle of the song is generally amazing. If I have already mentioned the solo then solos on rock and metal albums are in my eyes a very significant part of the experience and when it comes to addictive solos the album gets a few more points from me, as in this case.
In conclusion, this is a wonderful album whose most songs can function as fun stadium anthems. True, it's still not "Meliora", one of "Ghost's" masterpieces from 2015, that features a more progressive and perhaps psychedelic sound, but this album certainly continues to show how much talent lies in Tobias and his bandmates.