Ghost’s new album “Impera” oscillates between satisfaction and disappointment
Phantom is by far the most exciting metal band in the world right now, that’s what I thought back in the fall of 2015 when the band had just released their instant hit album “Meliora”. After the ep “Popestar” of the year and especially the song “square hammercatapulted the band to arena status in parts of Europe, with status cemented on both sides of the Atlantic with 2018’s ‘Prequelle’. to the expectations set by “Meliora”, and I mentally finished the record shortly after its release to start expecting what Tobias Forge might pull out of his sleeve next time. Well, that “next time” is upon us now, so hold on tight as I walk you through the disc that Forge itself has compared to by Metallica self-titled album because of its importance to his band’s career.
“Imperiumserves as a compact introduction to the album. The instrumental piece opens with soft acoustic guitar picking that quickly gives way to a bombastic snare drum beat and a swelling lead guitar as grand as the track’s title itself. As the drums and bass come into play, it becomes apparent that the production of the album is on point, the drums fill with a sound as lush as it is massive, and the bass guitar stands out too. deliciously than always on a Phantom disk. “We are building our empire on the ashes of an ancient,” Forge announces on “Kaisarion”, throwing the listener directly into the heart of the record and its subject. “Kaisarionis by far the most triumphant opener in the band’s history, with melodies, lyricism and instrumentation so flawless you’ll want to play the song again before it’s even finished.
“Weirsbegins with a very familiar-sounding piano intro that quickly transitions into Forge’s melodious, upbeat vocals. At just over three minutes, the song represents Ghosts the most uninhibited pop sensibilities. This ever-growing population of metal purists who for years have loved to hate Phantom will have a field day with this song, if not most of this record, for “Weirsis what it sounds like when the most exciting metal band of our time makes a decisive leap from metal to distorted arena pop.
After the two singles released before the album comes “Watcher in the sky” in which Forge manages to use its ambiguous but witty lyrics to simultaneously sting flatterers, religious fanatics as well as even some of the ways science has made the world smaller. The impeccable rhythms of the verses and the part in Chorus-laden Cs provide ample compensation for the lackluster chorus.”Around twentyis the sore thumb of this album that stands out for better and for worse. A laudable experiment demonstrating Forge’s willingness to test themselves as much as their audience, the song nonetheless sails over my head and not least because the lyrics break up the elegantly timeless form I’ve long enjoyed in this band.
“Darkness in the heart of my loveis a subdued ballad based on soft acoustic guitars and the vaporous voice of Forge. Even though the chorus temporarily lifts the song’s atmosphere from the mud it’s been dragging through, I’d say it’s one of the weakest tracks on the album for its lack of ideas to justify the length of five minutes. “Griftwood” is the ” of this albumWitch”; a last pop delight before the mournful farewell in the form ofRespite on the Spitalfields”. The latter is a moving send-off if not a bit meandering for the album. “We’ll part ways together, nothing ever lasts forever,” Forge sings, conveying sentiments similar to the previous album’s closing song.
A common wisdom regarding the longevity of music is that the more spins an album takes to reveal its secrets, the more potential it has to stand the test of time and vice versa; an immediately digested album is made and gone from memory just as quickly. This axiom doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny when I think back to the last album that floored me at hello, which was “Meliora”, still the Phantom album to surpass them all in my book. To put it plainly, “Impera” didn’t leave an overtly positive first impression on me. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Tobias Forge finally revealed himself as the emperor without clothes, but it’s a fun detail that the only tracks on this album credited as solely his work are the intro and “Passing Bite”, a redundant 30-second guitar pluck. “Impera” is a solid addition to Ghosts discography, but it took a few too many listens for me to reluctantly come to this conclusion.