Album review: GHOST – Impera

Loma Vista Recordings [Release date 11.03.22]

Papa and the Nameless Ghouls are back with album number 5. The last album, Prequelle, took us back to the time of the Plague, but here we join Ghost in more modern times. The concept is best explained(?) in the accompanying blurb with the review stream. It states the following – ‘in the 12 song cycle, empires rise and fall, would-be messiahs ply their hype (financial and spiritual), prophecies are foretold as the skies fill with celestial bodies divine and man-made’. So now you know…

Concepts are all well and good, but we are here for the music and things on that front are thankfully a lot clearer. This, quite simply, is Ghost’s best album yet.

The short instrumental intro of ‘Imperium’ sets the scene and builds the anticipation before the band launch into ‘Kaiserion’ which is a monster of a song. The guitar intro leads into a driving track filled with melody, harmony, and a killer chorus. The off-kilter middle eight section adds a touch of prog to the proceedings which just elevates things higher. This song is the set opener on the current tour and quite rightly so, what a way to make an entrance!

Next up we have ‘Spillways’ with an opening and melody that reminds me of ‘Runaway’ by Bon Jovi of all things. Thankfully, the resemblance is fleeting and the track is another great song. ‘Call Me Little Sunshine’ and the haunting ‘Hunter’s Moon’ were tracks released prior to the album coming out, but familiarity doesn’t breed contempt here as both tracks deserve repeat listening.

The two ghouls on guitar then crank out a solid riff to underpin ‘Watcher In The Sky’. Up until now Ghost have always stated that their heaviest track was ‘Mummy Dust’ from the ‘Meloria’ album, I think that may now change. The dual guitar solo mid track only serves to highlight the talent within the band’s ranks.

After another brief instrumental interlude entitled ‘Dominion’ we take a musical twist with ‘Twenties’. Starting with a big band brass intro, the track then explodes into an almost reggae like beat, with Papa spitting out the lyrics with the rhythm section punctuating every word. This track is a lot of fun and is destined be a live favourite. The pace then slows for ‘Darkness At The Heart Of My Love’. This track is the ballad of the piece complete with a glorious chorus and a huge sound.

‘Griftwood’ is probably the most straight forward rock track on the album, but that is no slight on the song. Another big chorus is served up with harmonies galore and there is an interesting mid-section once more to hold your attention. Hell, there is even a key change thrown in near the end to top things off.

The last short interlude ‘Bite Of Passage’ then leads into ‘Respite On The Spitalfields’ which leads us down a murderous path with a chilling vocal performance in parts. Again, musically the band are spot on with a big sound and a huge production. The perfect way to round off the album.

As I stated earlier, this is the best Ghost album to date, no question. With the band imagery some have found it hard to take Ghost as a serious entity, but this album should silence those doubters. The band have made the rise to headlining arenas around the world and this is the perfect soundtrack to accompany that move. The Devil really does have all the best tunes!  *****

Review by Dave Wilson

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