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Ghost - Impera review



Reviewer:
7.0

279 users:
7.39
Band: Ghost
Album: Impera
Release date: March 2022


01. Imperium
02. Kaisarion
03. Spillways
04. Call Me Little Sunshine
05. Hunter’s Moon
06. Watcher In The Sky
07. Dominion
08. Twenties
09. Darkness At The Heart Of My Love
10. Griftwood
11. Bite Of Passage
12. Respite On The Spitalfields


"If You Have Ghost", you have arena rock in ABBA clothing.

Say what you will about Ghost: Opus Eponymous/Infestissumam/Meliora/Prequelle was the best; it is/isn't/was/never was metal, the Papa Emeritus image still is/used to be/never was a contributing factor to success, it's a fresh breath/passable tribute/stale nostalgia to 70s/80s arena rock, Tobias did/didn't rip off his former bandmates… Suffice to say that for a band leaning closer to pop than metal, or even hard rock, Ghost remains remarkably divisive among metal fans; those with fine-tuned pop sensibilities take the band for what it is and with few exceptions enjoy this act a lot, while getting teased by trve metalheads who spew vitriol on the band (and its fans) despite maintaining that it's not even metal and shouldn't be judged as such. Nothing new on the Western front, eh?

Say what you will, indeed, but for me, there's no denying a sense of pride whenever the band is mentioned; it has achieved great success well beyond the borders of the metal world. Winning the 2016 “Best Metal Performance” Grammy, winning 3 out of 5 nomination in the Swedish equivalent, opening for acts such as Metallica and Foo Fighters, ending up #3 on the American Billboard list of top albums 2018, and receiving the Swedish government’s music export award of 2020, Ghost has undeniably put my sleepy academic hometown Linköping on the global rock map. As for the multiple choices above, my take is: the 70s-proggy Infestissumam was (and remains) the best, it was always hard rock, the anonymity shtick was certainly compelling when I saw the first "pope change" live here in town, the music is more than a tribute but less than original, and as for the juridical debacle, too many rumours and too small a degree of separation makes me say "no comment" (the court dispute resulted in a settlement - moving on).

Whether he always was, and despite preferring to call Ghost a solo project with session musicians, vocalist Tobias Forge (ex-Repugnant, ex-Crashdïet, ex-Onkel Kånkel - the latter fact hilarious to a subset of Swedes for reasons unfit mentioning here) pretty much is Ghost at this point, but he hardly composed the songs on Impera alone; the most noteworthy aspect about this album, in fact, being the actual songwriting credits. We’ll get to that soon enough. Impera is Latin for “to conquer” or “to rule”, and begins in a quite unspectacular fashion. The instrumental intro and first proper song “Kaiserion” are quite forgettable, and makes me wonder why “Spillways” wasn’t the first song. That one’s a proper banger, though, the arpeggiated synths and, to be honest, entire song sounding a lot like Toto or Journey. Okay, so it sounds quite a lot like “Hold The Line”, but I don’t care about originality as long as it’s done well, and “Spillways” is pop hard rock done well.

Next up is the most memorable (thus, since this is basically pop music, the best) song of the album. A title like “Call Me Little Sunshine” might sound like it’d be a half-arsed, corny ballad of some sort (don’t worry, “Darkness At The Heart Of My Love” comes later), but the Blue Öyster Cult main riff, thoroughly catchy chorus (with fun lyrics about, of course, calling out for Satan to never feel alone), and strange little twists towards the end make it highly replayable. Less-but-still-quite-replayable is “Hunter’s Moon”, its slightly too vapid verses being more than enough upended by a nearly wordless chorus encompassing a 9/4-time guitar hook. “Twenties” is introduced by ominous brassworks, and as a whole comes off as something of one of the wackier cuts from Nightwish’s Imaginaerum, which is kind of cool. Next to the closing track, it is also one of the heaviest songs on Impera, which clearly doesn’t focus on metal or even hard rock as much as any Ghost album before it did.

The reason? Co-writers on this album include Swedish pop composer superstars like Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare (Avicii, Madonna, Katy Perry), Peter Svensson (Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, Avril Lavigne), Klas Åhlund (Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue), and Joakim Berg (of sadly split-up Swedish indie rock legends Kent). Thus, you should not approach this album as anything other than what it is: a clinically produced, well-but-still-manufactured pop/rock album. Do I win something for this commercial name-dropping? Huh, a boot in my face? Gee, thanks, Satan.

Is it a good album, though? Yeah, partly. Problem is, that for every hit song I mentioned earlier, there’s another song that doesn’t add at all to the quality of the album. I know, I know, this is how pop music works, but I’m here to review the album, not the hit potential of its better songs. As a rock album, it is pretty good, sometimes great, with a few excellent moments spread throughout, but it is just uneven enough not to function fully as a cohesive album. It’s great when it’s good, but most of the time, it’s just… “Eh, good, I guess”. Hail Satan, and whatnot.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Production: 8





Written on 29.03.2022 by 100% objective opinions.


Comments

Comments: 14   Visited by: 281 users
29.03.2022 - 20:52
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
"Ghost aren't metal"

Yeah, that's why they're good.
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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29.03.2022 - 22:25
Rating: 6
musclassia

Written by RaduP on 29.03.2022 at 20:52

"Ghost aren't metal"

Yeah, that's why they're good.


I mean, they're not good, but it's not because they're not metal
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30.03.2022 - 09:11
Rating: 7
Nejde
Philosoraptor
This is an excellent review. Just take the album for what it is and enjoy. If you don't like it, listen to something else.
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"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
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30.03.2022 - 11:07
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Never liked this band even when they close to metal....
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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30.03.2022 - 14:49
Deadsoulman

Meh album, as usual. I'm going to follow Nejde's recommendation and listen to something else
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30.03.2022 - 17:47
The Galactician

Nice review. I like the iteration of the band through Meliora the best. The Liberace for Satan routine is not as much to my taste, though I still found some things to like on the last album. I think Forge is a brilliant songwriter, in spite of the hate they get.

Looking forward to giving this a listen! And triple looking forward to maybe five or ten years from now when Forge is in his, “We decided to get back to basics,” phase, and gunning for another Opus Enonymous or Infestissumam.
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30.03.2022 - 21:11
Rating: 7
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by RaduP on 29.03.2022 at 20:52

"Ghost aren't metal"

Yeah, that's why they're good.

Hey, go back to Pop Storm or wherever you came from!

Written by musclassia on 29.03.2022 at 22:25

I mean, they're not good, but it's not because they're not metal

Yeah, that's fine. It's just ridiculous to see people bashing music just for not being metal, I mean, this would disqualify 99% of music in the world from being good... Uh, which is probably quite true, but for better reasons.

Written by The Galactician on 30.03.2022 at 17:47

Nice review. I like the iteration of the band through Meliora the best. The Liberace for Satan routine is not as much to my taste, though I still found some things to like on the last album. I think Forge is a brilliant songwriter, in spite of the hate they get.

Looking forward to giving this a listen! And triple looking forward to maybe five or ten years from now when Forge is in his, “We decided to get back to basics,” phase, and gunning for another Opus Enonymous or Infestissumam.

The songwriting is good, yes, if a bit predictable. It remains true however that it's usually one of the hardest tasks in music to write a proper pop earworm with just a few basic elements. Unless you, you know, unashamedly plagiarise previous ideas. Another Infestissumam could be good, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Ghost taking a turn for suddenly making prog rock or heavier music in the future - Forge likes to say he wants to try new things with each album, so who knows. I don't see myself returning to Impera more than for a couple of the songs I really liked, though, it simply doesn't work very well as an album.
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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31.03.2022 - 10:50
Rating: 9
gavdann

ARE metal.
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31.03.2022 - 19:54
Mario Montes

Written by Nejde on 30.03.2022 at 09:11

This is an excellent review. Just take the album for what it is and enjoy. If you don't like it, listen to something else.


Yeah well, that could be applied to absolutely every music ever made. That's perecisely the greatest part about music in my opinion, there's always something for everybody (different genres, levels of technicallity, topics etc). I don't get why so many people nowadays feel the need of constantly expressing their opinion about absolutely everything, even for such banal things as personal tastes. It would be so absurd to do that with favourite colours or dishes, but apparently being an elitist twat it's ok when it comes to music taste.
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31.03.2022 - 20:09
Rage10000

"Huh, a boot in my face? Gee, thanks, Satan."
Ha! I laughed at this. I liked your review in general. I think you nailed it.
Decent album. I like Call me Little Sunshine and Spillways quite a bit. Just like Dance Macabre. Good tunes that happen to be light in the "metal" department. That's OK. Gotta change it up sometimes. Here's to Ghost and Abba!!
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02.04.2022 - 15:20
Rating: 7
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by gavdann on 31.03.2022 at 10:50

ARE metal.

Ghost is not a metal band on this album, I simply don't see it at all. Do elaborate?
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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05.04.2022 - 05:58
Rating: 9
SoUnDs LiKe PoP

You completely and utterly lost me at "Kaiserion was quite forgettable."
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I lift weights and listen to metal
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08.04.2022 - 10:53
Rating: 3
Duck Dodgers

Written by SoUnDs LiKe PoP on 05.04.2022 at 05:58

You completely and utterly lost me at "Kaiserion was quite forgettable."


Kaisarion sounds like an opening theme for an 80s cartoon. And I do not mean it in a cool Thundercats way.
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08.04.2022 - 14:44
Rating: 9
gavdann

Written by Duck Dodgers on 08.04.2022 at 10:53

Kaisarion sounds like an opening theme for an 80s cartoon. And I do not mean it in a cool Thundercats way.

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