Ok, so I know immediately there’s going to be some haters coming my way just to say “, but GHOST isn’t Metal!”, and we get it. You’re so edgy and cool, but blow it out your ass already. GHOST genre-jumps like a motherfucker, and sometimes, that genre is “Metal As Fuck” (yeah, that’s a genre I just coined. If you don’t like it, you can bite me once Covid restrictions are up).
WALTARI and AVANTASIA aren’t metal 100% of the time, but are still well respected by metal fans, so lighten up and let yourself enjoy the music. Besides, TOBIAS FORGE has already given us death metal in the form of REPUGNANT and was a part of glam metal band CRASHDÏET for some time as well, so the dude is Metal, like it or not.
Now that that part is out of the way, I must tell you that my introduction to GHOST came a little later than many. I jumped on board in summer of 2017 when a girl I liked said to me “check this band out” before hitting play on the song “Squarehammer”. Catchy as “hell”, pun intended, and I was immediately on the square, and on the level, if you know what I mean, and I think that you do! I sought out a few more songs before I started picking up all the albums I could because I loved this band, and I’m a physical media guy who hadn’t quite jumped on the streaming idea just yet. I’m streaming a lot these days, but the physical album is always needed when I really need to immerse myself fully into a new album for reviews, which is why I waited til release day to do this.
I’ve said it a million times over, and I will die on this hill – you can’t fully appreciate a new album without physically holding it in your hand while reading lyrics and thank you notes while studying the cover art, band photos, etc. I’m old school that way. Plus, when you stream, you have nothing to bring with you when you get to meet the band and ask for something autographed. It’s nice to show the bands you love how much you support their efforts, you know? I once had BLAZE BAYLEY of all people sign like 25-30 album covers for me when he played in Poughkeepsie, NY several years back. Everything from his days in IRON MAIDEN to his most recent solo work, and he was very happy to do so!
Speaking of IRON MAIDEN and having physical albums, have you seen the cover to the new GHOST album, Impera? I mean, I’m here to review this album, so it’s probably about time I start talking about the album. What better place to start than the cover art? The cover has a bit of an IRON MAIDEN vibe to it, like the artist took inspiration from their Somewhere In Time cover, mixed with my personal favorite – The X Factor. The artwork on the inside of the booklet is worth checking out as well. Really helps set the mood for the musical journey we’re about to take. The album opens up with “Imperium”, a slow moving melodic instrumental that eventually builds its way up to “Kaisarion”, a fast paced fun tune that has a similar energy to “Squarehammer” but with a bit more of a punk vibe to it. I was feeling an almost BAD RELIGION vibe to it, ironically. Go figure. Next up is “Spillways” which kinda started off in a BON JOVI “Runaway” type of intro for a couple seconds but it quickly became a GHOST song, and one of my top favorites on the album at that.
So far, we’re off to a really strong start for the first album with the newly appointed Papa IV fronting the band. The first Papa to not be of the bloodline, and he’s killing it. Next up comes “Call Me Little Sunshine” which maybe you’ve already heard as it was released as a single about a month ago, and that is followed up by another single you may already know, “Hunter’s Moon” which was released for the soundtrack of Halloween Kills. Both killer tunes. Next song up is “Watcher In The Sky”, which sounds like it might have been BLACK SABBATH inspired. Not that it sounds like a song of theirs in particular, just that the vocal melody sounds a bit like a combination of OZZY and DIO inspired styles while the main riff has an almost Tony Iommi flair in many parts.
The next track, “Dominion” is a slow, doomy sounding organ track which acts as a mood transitional track, as the next song to come is “Twenties”, which is pretty much the heaviest track on the album, guaranteed to grab you “by the hoo-hahs”, as the lyrics will tell you. After that grab, naturally it’s time for the ballad. “Darkness At The Heart Of My Love” serves as that ballad, and it does not disappoint. That’ll be one to have the lighters out at the live show for sure.
“Griftwood” follows, and if this one makes it into the live set, I could see a lot of call and response singing with the crowd happening. “Bite Of Passage” is next which is a very short guitar instrumental that leads into the final song on this offering, “Respite Of The Spitalfields” which sounds almost CANDLEMASS inspired to a degree, which isn’t surprising as before becoming Papa IV, Cardinal Copia did an excellent cover of METALLICA’s “Enter Sandman” with members of CANDLEMASS. There’s another part in the song that feels partially inspired by the instrumental section of WHITESNAKE’s “Still Of The Night”, but again, I stress it doesn’t sound like the song, just that it could have been inspired by it.
It’s all a very original album, chock full of bangers where everything feels like it belongs right here on this album. It’s “very nice, very evil” as Danhausen would say. Huge fan of this album. It’s definitely in my top 5 GHOST albums, but that’s kind of a given since it’s the 5th album, but all joking aside, I’ll rank it as my second favorite album. Tough to beat Opus Eponymous, ya know? That said, I must advise you not to pray for much of anything for the next few weeks, because instead of listening to prayers, Jesus will likely be listening to Impera, and I can’t blame him, because this album slaps like a motherfucker, so blast it at home and hope it doesn’t leave too many handprints across your ass!