Swedish rock giants, Ghost, have once again teamed up with producer, Klas Åhlund, for their highly anticipated 5th studio offering, IMPERA. The last time the two collaborated was on Ghost’s 3rd studio album, Meliora (2015), which contains the band’s GRAMMY-winning single ‘Cirice’.
The album opens up with ‘Imperium’, a soft instrumental track which seamlessly transitions into the loud shriek at the beginning of ‘Kaisarion’. With it’s evident 80’s influence and powerful hooks, it’s easy to see why the band chose to share this song on their tour with Volbeat prior to the album release. The studio version leaves you feeling like you’ve been pulled into an arena to listen to it live and loud.
While 80’s rock and glam metal seems to be a substantial influence throughout the album, ‘Watcher In The Sky’ contains riffs that are reminiscent of Meliora’s ‘Majesty’ but with a splash of ‘arena polish’ that was seen through out Prequelle (2018). Between the melody, chorus and assertive rhythm, this song is bound to get stuck in your head for days.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this album was that each song had many layers to it. The more I listened to it, the more I picked up on tiny things that I missed during the previous play through. An example of this would be ‘Twenties’. From the very first listen, I found it to be very catchy and took note of it’s overt reggaeton influence along with the big band feel that the orchestra added. But the more I listened to it, the more I picked up on what I felt like an essence of Ghost mastermind, Tobias Forge’s, death metal band Repugnant. Another thing I appreciated was how each song could stand on it’s own outside of the album, but they also worked together exceptionally well to make the album a cohesive piece. ‘Twenties’ taken out of context may seem like an odd song that would stick out in Ghost’s discography, but when you listen to the album in order it made a lot of sense when placed between ‘Dominion’ and ‘Darkness At The Heart Of My Love’.
Technicalities aside, as a Ghost fan, IMPERA is a delight to listen to and it is giving Meliora a good run for its money to stay as my favourite Ghost album. It feels like Forge took the best parts of the previous albums to create IMPERA while sprinkling elements from his previous projects outside of Ghost to really help showcase his vocal range. It’s refreshing to see how he continues to find new ways to reinvent the band and make it palatable to the masses while still managing to stay true to that unmistakable Ghost sound.
This album might not carry the same spooky and occult-ish vibe that some Ghost fans always seem to be chasing after, but it’s a lot of fun to listen to from start to finish. The 46 minutes absolutely flew by, leaving listeners in that sweet spot where you’re happy and content, but also kind of wishing it would have lasted just a little bit longer.
IMPERA will be available on March 11th via Loma Vista Recordings. Pre-order your copy here.