By: Caleb Rippee
After much anticipation from their last album Prequelle (2018) Ghost has released their much awaited follow-up record: “IMPERA.” How does it compare to their last release? Well that’s what I am going to let you know in this review, as well as giving you a brief idea of what each song is like. Without further ado, let’s review!
The first of several instrumental tracks, this opening song establishes a sort of basis for the sound of this album. Acoustic and electric guitars dance around with epic sounding drums. Electric guitar harmonies carry the simple lead melody and give us a nice first taste of the album’s sound. It also leads right into the first proper track.
We jump right into the energy with a duel guitar intro and a surprisingly high note from singer Tobias Forge. The song is packed full of the 70s and 80s glam sound and reeks of classic heavy metal. You can definitely hear the Iron Maiden influence. Despite all these perceivable influences, Ghost has a sound all their own in this song and you can detect their unique style throughout this track. This is, however, one of the most genuine sounding songs on the album and to be honest, isn’t all that amazing. Compared to their earlier work, this song is just kinda average and not very memorable in my opinion. Yet this is one of the best songs on the album which really foreshadows the fact that the best this album gets is just “good.”
The song starts off with some staccato keyboard and Tobias singing, it quickly takes off, becoming layered with palm muted guitars and drums. The chorus hits, with the main melody reminiscent of classic 80s ballads. This song seems to strike in between “rocking anthem” and “heartfelt ballad” and ends up sticking the landing… I guess. The melody is decent but still not that memorable and the instrumentation is kind of boring and lacks something interesting. The solo was totally forgettable as well. You can see what they were trying to accomplish with this song and they kind of executed it, but it lacks memorability and uniqueness.
“Call Me Little Sunshine”
The song ominously begins with a medieval sounding riff. It jumps into action, being immediately followed by drums and bells. The verse reverts back to light drums and guitar and then eventually builds up again for the chorus. The chorus is probably the most memorable of this album, second to only Hunter’s Moon (oh don’t you worry, we will get to that song soon)
The chorus is luscious, layered with vocal melodies and overdriven guitar as well as some keyboards with a sort of organ sound thrown in. The song feels a little repetitive but it is forgettable considering the catchiness of the chorus and the changes in dynamics and intrumentation.
This is probably my favorite song off of the album and quite possibly the best. It opens with a gorgeous, ethereal guitar part and jumps into the verse, which is emphasized heavily with simple yet pounding drums that carry the powerful nature of this song. This song is by far the most powerful, compelling, and memorable one on this album. The lead guitar flourishes and thudding drum fills give the song its own unique flavor and really draw you into the misty and foggy atmosphere of the song. This song was featured in the credits of Halloween Kills (2021) and has received much acclaim since its release last year. Highly recommended for everyone!
“Watcher In The Sky”
For those of you who want an 80s style arena anthem with a catchy chorus and heavy guitar parts, look no further than Watcher In The Sky. It’s got all the ingredients for a tasty metal ballad. It’s unique enough to be somewhat memorable but still lacks the punchy, stick-in-your-head melodies of Ghost’s older work. Nevertheless, this song is a great one for speeding down the freeway and also workout montages. Disclaimer: I do not condone speeding, it’s not my fault if you crash into a wall.
Another instrumental track. Honestly, most of these instrumental songs do nothing for me. They are usually just lead-ins to the next song, but they are so forgettable and mundane that they just feel like album filler thrown in to make it longer. They could take all of these out and I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep.
The song begins with blaring brass sections and electric samples. It builds up into a funky, creep riff with lots of ambience. The song is very reminiscent of Rammstein and Pinkly Smooth, utilizing a certain avant garde style. The song is very easy to dance to and is among the grooviest on the album. A very fun track.
“Darkness At The Heart Of My Love”
This song is the album’s ballad. Slow, melodic, and soft. The instruments flow up and down, carrying Tobias’ vocals and the main melody. The song is pretty good, it is a little generic in some parts but overall is an enjoyable listen that would work well as a song to dance with someone too.
Okay, I’m gonna be brutally honest right now. I like the song. But it is literally a copy of their earlier song “Square Hammer.” From the lead riff at the beginning, the song structure and the melody, it’s all the same. Seriously, go listen to Square Hammer a few times until you get an idea of the song and then listen to this song. Almost exactly the same.
“Bite of Passage”
Oh look, another boring instrumental track, how lovely. Just read my reviews for the last two and it’s the same as this one. Next.
“Respite On The Spitalfields”
The final song on the album, you would expect it to go out with an explosive anthem right? Or maybe a soft ballad to bring tears to your eyes and bring the album to a solemn close. NOPE. Instead we get a sort of attempt at a ballad. But the melodies lack a captivating quality and the instrumentation is decent at best. The musical ideas are half expressed and don’t really have a way they want you to feel. Just lethargically pushing and pulling gently in random directions wondering when it will end. The chorus is fairly catchy but not nearly enough to salvage this mediocre song. And it drags on FOREVER. If you’re gonna make a seven minute song, at least make it enjoyable.
All in all, this was a good album for the most part. At its best, it’s just Ghost on autopilot. At its worst, it’s pointless, uninspired writing that needs to be scrapped. This could have been a really solid EP if they got rid of all the stupid instrumental tracks, scrapped the boring and meandering songs like Spillways and Respite On The Spitalfields and even Twenties. To me, Ghost was trying too much to sound like themselves and this album ends up feeling unnatural and forced. The style seems devoid of any other external music influences besides what they already do. I think that Prequelle succeeded and greatly benefitted from this and this album could have used it.