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Album Review : Ghost – ‘Impera’

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Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM

While people have been asking for years where the next big, stadium filling rock band to take the mantle of the giants would come from and sound like, few would have guessed the answer lay in a Swedish band as much in thrall to ABBA as they are to Black Sabbath.

Against the odds, Tobias Forge has moulded Ghost from their more Doom Metal origins to a razor sharp Grand Guignol act that features more drama and hooks than Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’ and with that director’s epic scope.

Following the international sensation caused by their last album, ‘Prequelle’ opus and the accompanying world tour, including shows opening for Metallica, the band had to look at the next step in their planned global domination and it needed to be nothing less than stellar.

Whilst one or two tracks on that previous release were a little hit and miss, ‘Impera’ has been refined and crafted with an attention to detail that only Swiss watchmakers observe, its delay caused by the global pandemic not harming it but giving it space to truly take a life of its own.

Whilst it certainly is polished, there’s still a real grit beneath the impressive frontage that keeps that tenuous thread to the (in)human heart beating at the centre of Papa Emeritus VI, the anchor that makes the image gloriously unsettling.

Capturing the same spirit as early KISS, there is an air of mystery in everything that surrounds Ghost, Forge having arguably created a world more immersive than the New York titans.

As a reliably grand opening, instrumental ‘Imperium’ sets the scene, its majesty only topped by ‘Kaisarion’ which sounds like the love child of Queen and The Darkness. Hugely catchy, glammed up and Eurocentric, Ghost still manage to throw in a little Rush influenced bridge halfway through the song and the pace doesn’t let up in the souped-up AOR of ‘Spillways’.

Forge manages to somehow channel some of the best hard rock acts of the past forty years into his compositions and the Gothic Def Leppard vibes of both ‘Call Me Little Sunshine’ and ‘Griftwood’ brings together the Sheffield boys along with a large helping of Jim Steinman.

Full of huge moments of production that will rattle your fillings and shake the plaster from your ceiling, these two tracks could well be the answer to what the aborted album the pairing worked on may have sounded like.

‘Hunter’s Moon’ is rammed full of driving guitars and soaring vocal harmonies with just the right amount of menace to be the perfect fit to the new ‘Halloween’ film that it soundtracks. Even bigger still, the hook at the centre of ‘Watcher in The Sky’ is so huge it probably has its own gravitational pull, the dazzling guitar work that relentlessly dances through the track alternates chunky riffs and quicksilver fretboard arpeggios.

Following the orchestral grandeur of ‘Dominion’, the pounding, venomous and decidedly unhinged ‘Twenties’ blisters and comes across like Rammstein transposed to a late 1970’s disco. With a wilfully twisted intent, the lush, heartfelt and massive ballad ‘Darkness at The Heart of My Love’ follows and lifts things to new heights.

Despite throwing almost everything but the kitchen sink in, it remains the right side of OTT, perfectly illustrating the at times breath taking craft of the song writing and walks a very fine line between pleasure and pain.

The aforementioned ‘Griftwood’ and short instrumental ‘Bite of Passage’ pave the way for the second part of the twin crowning glory of the album, in the shape of Jack the Ripper tale ‘Respite on The Spitalfields’. Full of little vocal quirks, a brief middle section that replicates the building riff of Whitesnake’s ‘Still of The Night’ and layers of atmosphere thicker than a London ‘pea-souper’, it contains probably some of the very best sections of music that Ghost have ever produced.

An unapologetic triumph, Forge has done exactly what he should have and produced an album that takes all that is best with the Ghost formula and turned it up to maximum volume. It won’t be long until the band find themselves headlining festivals like Download and with a continually growing set of songs this good, the world really is theirs for the taking.

Buy & stream IMPERA, the new album from Ghost out now: https://found.ee/Ghost_IMPERA

Watch Ghost’s Zane Lowe Interview for Apple Music: https://found.ee/Ghost_ZaneLowe

Follow Ghost: Subscribe to Ghost’s YouTube: https://found.ee/Ghost_YTSubscribe

Instagram: https://found.ee/Ghost_Instagram

Twitter: https://found.ee/Ghost_Twitter

Facebook: https://found.ee/Ghost_Facebook

Site: https://ghost-official.com/

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