|Release Date:||11th of March, 2022|
|Released via||Spinefarm Records|
|Cover Artwork ©||Zbigniew Bielak, 2022|
I admit it folks, I really struggled with this album. Since Meliora, their masterpiece from 2015, I really like Ghost. Prequelle also appealed to me. Their music always had something special, with a nuance of irony and a touch of darkness in the Progressive Rock that the band played. Influences from great historical Rock groups, such as Queen, were executed with incredible virtuosity, so I feel their enormous status is more than justified. My point is: Ghost are big because they are damn good and in my opinion they didn’t want to force anything with their music. Because they’ve always done a bit of their own thing.
With Impera however, you notice a change of course. Suddenly, Ghost seem as if they want more. The radio suitability was clearly ramped up in places, the irony degenerates into tasteless booing. I admit, there are songs that only really ignite after repeated listening, like “Kaisarion”. In the beginning, I was struck by the aggressively cheerful mood of the song, but after a while I was able to appreciate it, especially because of its simple, but successful chorus. So, despite initial rejection on my part, this song quickly developed into an earworm.
“Spillways” and “Call me little Sunshine”, on the other hand, didn’t really appeal to me even after listening to them several times. The former rather makes me hear the words “I just died in your arms tonight” in my head at first, and the latter honestly just saves me from going to a soccer game. Even so, I now know I’ll never go alone. “Hunter’s Moon,” on the other hand, I liked a lot better, but “Watcher in the Sky”, insanity, that’s what I love about Ghost. This song just has everything I expect from a band like this: strong riffs, a great chorus and no end of addictive potential. With “Twenties” I have a harder time again. I like the riff, I like the lyrics, I also really like the chorus, but every time he says “Madafakkas” at 1:38 I feel so edgy that my faux leather Slipknot wallet opens up in my pocket. And take it from someone who actually had one of those as a teenager. I’m ashamed every time this post comes on. For me, and for Ghost. But not for the tasteful wallet.
But now let’s get to the centerpiece of my aversion, “Darkness at the Heart of my Love”. Yes, I recognize the earworm character. Nevertheless, let me briefly describe to you what my mind’s eye sees as soon as the chorus rings in:
Palm trees, the sea, white beaches. We are a drone, flying over a luxury villa at sunset. Glamour everywhere, artificial beings that are supposed to represent people and lots of good vibes. We are in a trash TV format. “Love under palm trees”, “Revelry-Island”, “The Bachelor*ette” or whatever crap your notorious TV channels are currently spouting again. And that describes my problem with Impera the best. Ghost make music for exactly this kind of thing a bit too often for me. Rock that doesn’t cause any trouble anymore can be used everywhere and covers its dream of absolute commerce with bland, edgeless music. That’s not so far away from what Imagine Dragons and Nickelback do or what late Linkin Park did. Now I’ve said it, we’ll all have to live with it. By the way, I forgot the last two songs just as fast as I heard them.
What remains is a mixed album, which has a few really good hits and approaches, but in its entire length often bores, in places even annoys and at some points causes a tired head shake. You can like it, but everything went better before.