Ghost plays it safe with their new hard rock LP
RATS! A new album from the infamous Ghost arrived last week. The Swedish rock band released its fifth studio album LP Impera following a four-year break from their previous album Prequelle. It features 12 songs that won’t freak you out, don’t worry. Ghost is not that scary once you listen to their music.
Going over the album multiple times, it doesn’t sound like there is a conceptual idea for the album itself. However, in an interview with Loudwire’s Graham Hartmann, singer and frontrunner of Ghost Tobias Forge stated that the theme of the LP heavily falls on the rise and inevitable fall of empires. “We have distanced ourselves from the actual circularity of things and the cyclic nature of everything. […] The circularity I’ve been trying to talk about just happens to coincide now with what eventually will fall… the empire [Russia] that will fall because of this, I think, and hope,” said Forge.
The album starts off with an instrumental track called “Imperium,” which is a fresh start to kick off the rest of the songs. Unfortunately, there were some songs that took heavy inspiration (read: ripped off) from other ones. “Kaisarion” sounds like “We Built This City” by Starship. The “Civilization” theme is also present in said Ghost track, given the lyrics “We’re building our empire from the ashes of an old.” I can see the resemblance with the lyrics, but why take the hook from Starship? The third track “Spillways” is even worse because the beginning literally sounds like the “Pokémon Theme” sung by Jason Paige. “Respite On The Spitalfields” has Def Leppard clean chords cutting through the mix, and “Hunter’s Moon” is screaming “Diary of a Madman” by Ozzy Osbourne. Last but not least, the guitar solo in “Watcher In The Sky” is heavily influenced by Avenged Sevenfold, with their “Hail to the King”-esque licks.
The seventh track of the album, “Dominion” takes the album divider role. As a divider, the instrumental song showcases the separation between the lighter part of the album which the listener just experienced, and the heavier which is just to come. Following “Dominion,” is the heaviest song on the album: “Twenties.” This song starts off with fanfare which is pursued by a heavy oriental beat, similar to an Armenian style rhythm. Although the lyrical melody has a very bouncy feel to it (explicit as their verses are), the instruments don a Children of Bodom style chug which creates a heavy yet melodic song.
When it comes to Ghost in general, they have their textbook way of writing lyrics. When it comes to the verses, they tell very grandiose stories which sound epic, like in the song “Watcher In The Sky” where the first verse reads “Evolutionary, the optics for us to get answers as to why, we signal to another dimension, that we stand here ready for reply.” On the other hand, their process of writing their choruses includes taking the title and rehashing it, like “Searchlights, looking for the watcher in the sky, searchlights, looking for the watcher in the sky.” This writing process makes for easy listening to songs rather than straining to understand complex lyrics. While it works in creating catchy tunes, maybe it would benefit if their songs didn’t sound a bit lighthearted, after all, they look like they burn churches.
In all sincerity, I feel that this album could have amounted to more than just blatant rip-offs and cheesy ‘80s inspired themes. While I did enjoy the main melodies and the theme of the album, it could have done better with more original and less processed-sounding ideas.
Trial track: “Twenties”