Swedish occult rockers Ghost are back and they are as bombastic as ever. Building on 2018s Prequelle, Impera’s ambition and love of cheese is even higher – matching the arena ready riffs and the ridiculously catchy melodies to a new theme, the rise and falls of empires rather than the black death of before.
After a brief instrumental ‘Kaisarion’ bursts through the speakers in a flurry of unapologetically big, 80s inspired metal about building an new empire from the ashes of the old – with a fiery solo and a Rush like breakdown. This feels like the album front man Tobias Forge has been wanting to make all along, encompassing shiny pop production and melodies to various, 70s and 80s influences – like the stabbing, Foreigner-like piano and the demonic, King Diamond style lyrics of ‘Spillway’. Talking about melodies, ‘Call Me Little Sunshine’ is an earworm of the highest order. His mission to make theatrical metal for the masses has finally been realised, as their showing at 2 in the UK album charts shows.
‘Hunters Moon’ – which was on the Halloween Kills soundtrack – is a classic bit of Ghost; cheesy, radio friendly metal with a huge chorus and plenty of tongue in cheek. Headbanger ‘Watcher in the Sky’ also comes under this category, a riffy monster reminiscent of 80s Ozzy Osbourne. There are a few misses on the album though, one being the overly glossy pop power ballad ‘Darkness at the Heart of My Love’; complete with choral backing singers and finger clicks. ‘Twenties’ is another one, an overly camp and theatrical bit of fun that quickly wears thin – and also probably the only time you will hear “hoo haa” and “moolah” in a Ghost song. The record ends on a big note, that being the Jack The Ripper inspired ‘Respite on the Spitalfields, an epic rocker with a Whitesnake riff and solos with a touch of Use Your Illusion era of Guns n Roses to them.
Their fifth album is their glossiest and most accessible collection of ridiculously catchy, cheesy and theatrical metal yet – their quest for world domination is nearly complete.