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Ghost: Impera

The phenomenon that is Sweden's Ghost continues with their fifth full-length studio album, Impera, another release that continues to take them further from their Satanic metal beginnings but closer to hard rock/pop/prog superstardom. Led as always by Papa Emeritus IV, otherwise known as singer/songwriter/musician Tobias Forge, plus a Group of Nameless Ghouls, the band known as Ghost continue to impress with their blend of ultra catchy, modern, yet retro music that might not be heavy metal anymore, but it's certainly heavy in spots, it's definitely prog-like in others, and without a doubt it knows how to deliver the pop hooks. Guest stars aplenty on Impera on choir vocals and various instruments, but Opeth lead guitarist Fredrik Åkesson makes a few appearances on the album with some dazzling leads that add further highlights to this album chock full of them.

After the opening instrumental "Imperium" comes the metallic, hook laden anthem "Kaisarion", Papa's vocals soaring over blazing lead guitars, heavy riffs, crashing drums, and prog rock keys (move over Dragonforce!), leading into the can't miss "Spillways", a sure fire hit in any other time other than 2022, with a chorus that will stay in your head for days, a keyboard lick better than Bon Jovi's "Runaway", and plenty of Boston styled arena rock riffs. I dare you NOT to play this one over and over again 'till it's permeated deep within your soul. These guys manage to deliver one of these on every album, and this is the runaway 'would be smash hit' here. "Call Me Little Sunshine" slows things down and gets a little more serious & bluesy, but the hooks are still there and the chorus is huge, though I wish Papa would have just a little more grit in his vocals and less sugar. "Hunter's Moon" is kind of slick and pop-metally, but in a good, sort of '80s Styx way, the riffs big and the keys big, while "Watcher in the Sky" is the big 'Black Sabbath-meets-Whitesnake '1987' song on the album, chock full of some massive riffs, wild lead guitars, and effective vocals that might be some of the best on the album. "Twenties" is probably the least successful track on the album...Papa talking like an old man as well as a carnival barker throughout...yeah, the riffs are heavy, but it's kind of ridiculous overall. The band channel their inner Queen on the schmaltzy "Darkness at the Heart of My Love"...cheesy but fun, and "Griftwood" rekindles their love of classic Blue Oyster Cult, another beefy '80s styled number with all the typical Ghost elements and a killer chorus. The album closes with the lengthy, moody "Respite on the Spitalfields", which, once again, seems to revisit the Whitesnake 1987 album...listen close, you can't miss it.

Despite the many references to so many other albums and bands, it's almost impossible to stop from falling head over heels for Impera. Tobias Forge is a very smart man, and he's delivering one winner of an album after another, and the general public is eating it all up, including yours truly. Is Impera going to overtake Meliora as the crown of the Ghost catalog? Time will tell, but for now, this is one hell of an album, and as I always say, great songs make a great album, and while this one might have a clunker or two, the rest are absolute gems. Play, replay, play, get the picture. Top shelf release of 2022!

Track Listing
1. "Imperium" Tobias Forge 1:40
2. "Kaisarion" Forge, Joakim Berg 5:02
3. "Spillways" Forge, Salem Al Fakir, Vincent Pontare 3:16
4. "Call Me Little Sunshine" Forge, Max Grahn 4:44
5. "Hunter's Moon" Forge, Grahn 3:16
6. "Watcher in the Sky" Forge, Al Fakir, Pontare 5:48
7. "Dominion" Forge, Al Fakir, Pontare 1:22
8. "Twenties" Forge, Al Fakir, Pontare 3:46
9. "Darkness at the Heart of My Love" Forge, Al Fakir, Pontare 4:58
10. "Griftwood" Forge, Peter Svensson, Klas Åhlund 5:16
11. "Bite of Passage" Forge 0:31
12. "Respite on the Spitalfields" Forge, Berg 6:42
Total length: 46:21

Added: April 8th 2022
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 906
Language: english

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