GHOST – Impera (2022) HQ *0dayrox Exclusive*

GHOST - Impera (2022) full

Impera‘ finds GHOST transported literally hundreds of years forward from the 14th century Europe Black Plague era of its previous album – 2018’s Best Rock Album Grammy nominee – ‘Prequelle’. The result is the most ambitious and lyrically incisive entry in the Ghost canon: over the course of ‘Impera”s 12-song cycle, empires rise and fall, would-be messiahs ply their hype (financial and spiritual alike), prophecies are foretold as the skies fill with celestial bodies divine and man-made.
All in all, the most current and topical Ghost subject matter to date is set against a hypnotic and darkly colorful melodic backdrop making ‘Impera’ a listen like no other – yet unmistakably, quintessentially Ghost.

‘Impera’ was supposed to come out shortly after the U.S. presidential election in 2020, a reflection on Donald Trump’s contentious rule. But the pandemic-prompted delay makes Impera’s release seem even more timely in the wake of Prequelle’s foresight, the Russia-Ukraine crisis and other events of the past two years.
It’s somewhat dark at heart, as was its predecessor, but Ghost coat it all in a signature glossy sheen that’s fist-raising and just a little silly in its over-the-top theatrics.

So, even when the material digs into the history and parallels with the modern world, the music is melodic and playful, clawing at metal’s core while turning over the ’80s goo that’s part of the foundation.
It all suits the analogies to hunters and the hunted that run throughout some of Impera’s best songs. “Ease up to the hunter from thе prey and transform indefinitely,” frontman Tobias Forge sings in “Call Me Little Sunshine”; “Hunter’s Moon” (which made its debut in the Halloween Kills movie) extends the theme.

Yet all this talk of prophecies, burning temples and lost paradises (all part of proper album launcher “Kaisarion,” by the way) wouldn’t mean as much if not for the nostalgic pop-metal guitars and glistening production underlining the entire work.
Forge is a thoughtful frontman, but so often Ghost albums come down to the cathedral-shaking harmonies and oh-so-’80s synths that have defined the band for a decade.

So tracks like “Spillways” and “Watcher in the Sky” look toward dark days and eventual castigation for would-be emperors (some more literal than others) in a big-picture manner, as souls are shattered by self-serving leaders and war.
But much of it is delivered with a musical wink that reminds you this is escapism: The brief instrumental interludes are wholly cinematic, LP closer “Respite on the Spital Fields” includes a keyboard quote from Nik Kershaw’s 1984 hit “Wouldn’t It Be Good” and the thematic heaviness boils down to a modern-day attempt to make a late-’80s Queensryche album.
Highly Recommended

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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

Tobias Forge – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion
Papa Emeritus IV – vocals performance
A Group of Nameless Ghouls – guitars, bass, keytars, drums, percussion, keyboards, organ, synthesizers, backing and choir vocals

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