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  • Writer's pictureR’nR With Rylo

Spin #104 : Impera : Ghost






SUNDAY DROP - SPIN #104


Happy Anniversary to my wonderful Wife, as we celebrated 9 years of marriage this week. I hope you know how much I love you and how proud of you I am. Thank you for being on this crazy journey with me and for giving me two beautiful children.


Welcome to R'nR with Rylo! The record time capsule blog that we do as a family each and every Sunday. What is the overall feeling propelling Swedish band Ghosts' 5th studio album 'Impera'? I think that it is about building on the ashes of the old, only to repeat the same mistakes that are fuelled by lust, greed and the illusion of eternal power. The title of the album comes from the Latin phrase, "divide et impera", which simply means - command or rule. It's an awesome theme to base an album around, because you can see the rise of Cardinal Copia into Papa Emeritus IV and fall. We purchased this record from Utopia records store in Sydney, as they specialise in music of the heavier variety and they rewarded us with a bonus two sided poster of the band. I'll take a photo and throw it up on our social pages for you to see.


If you are a fan of Ghost and want to check out our other Sunday spin - click here to read 'Opus Eponymous'. I probably should have placed these on the turntable in release order but the selections that I spin every week are completely random. The artwork on the front and back will have you looking at it for a while in order to appreciate the amount of detail put into it. There is also a lyrics booklet included that has some fantastic drawings by the same artist - Zbigniew M.Bielak. The Polish artist's drawings are something to see and will capture your gaze for a long time. I was trying to interpret the album artwork, other than it paying homage to Occultist - Aleister Crowley and his pose of duality. It also reminds me of the term "Industrial Revolution" and all the widespread advancement that occurred at a rapid pace. If you look closely around the cover, you will see lots of people working together to build these great structures. The LP is a transparent blue colour that matches the album artwork.


Rain has been coming down most of the day, making it perfect weather to spin this one in our front room on the Audio Technica turntable and Marshall Woburn II speaker set-up. I'll give this record a brush before pressing the start button on this one. It's important to brush records before each spin, as it removes dust and factory swarf that could result in your stylus picking it up. If the stylus works its way through the groove with debris on the tip, it will cause damage overtime and result in your favourite songs potentially becoming unlistenable.




Image: Papa Emeritus IV and some of his Nameless Ghouls

It's time to #dropthestylus on this 2022 album - 'Impera'! I hope that you are all ready for this one.


'IMPERIUM' starts with a similar sounding guitar style that ended their previous album, 'Prequelle' before what seems like a build up towards something new and exciting. The beginning of the New Age of Papa Emeritus IV! This opening instrumental makes me visualise the 'Sisters of Sin' surrounding Papa and dressing him in his clergy wear. What we are left with at the end of the 1 minute 40 is what you see in the image above.


If you wanted a impactful opening song that brings the energy of what is to come on the album, 'KAISARION' wont leave you disappointed. Intricate guitar playing brings you in before a drawn out vocal scream blasts through the Marshall Woburn II speaker. A moment that will be as close to Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden as we will get on this album. I remember the first time Night Kat Kiz and I heard this opening song. We looked at each other when the scream came through and started nodding and smiling. It was unexpected and showed that initial direction Tobias Forge wanted to take this one. For those of you who don't already know that Tobias Forge is the actual man behind the band, then now you do. Forge will layout all of the music and ideas before heading to the studio and recording the album. Maybe he has some help along the way but for the most part, this is his band. When out on tour he has the travelling pack of Nameless Ghouls that support him and you can tell that they are having a ball up on stage playing these songs. Whether it was the start of the tour or towards the last handful of shows, they never lost any desire and energy to play to their fans.


Our 5 year old and coming up to 'Threenager' territory daughter are playing with their blocks while listening. I didn't realise but it has already been two years since the release of 'Impera' and everyone is already talking about the next album. Initially I was being flooded with '70s style music when I heard this song and loved the slight tweak in their sound over this album. So many people can't handle change - whether that is minimal or drastic. That resulted in people panning the album and being so critical. Geez, we still have people debating what genre the band is. Yes, I agree that they are not as heavy as Slayer but they are still within the genre of Heavy Metal / Hard Rock. I look at our kids and see that they are building things out of blocks, appreciating things for what they are and only limited by their imaginations. Just back to the song, I like the lyric of "Long ago yet too close to forever".


A Nameless ghoul on the keys provides a slight '80s style sound to open 'SPILLWAYS'. I like the idea that when a dam is full, the spillways help keep the dam from overflowing by providing that run off. Do we have a lot of darkness built up or problems on our mind? Well the spillways for our bodies would be the act of crying. In terms of this song, Papa Emeritus IV has a lot of darkness within him as he is attempting to decimate those who stand in his way. This track is one that will have you tapping your foot or singing along in the car as you drive home. There is a very visual lyric, "When stripped of rags of skin and spine. Human decay, Corpus dei. Terminally dispelled and it's such a ride (ride)". Papa IV has shed his old life and maybe can't turn back now to the tricycle riding days of Copia. There is a bit of Cardinal Copia still inside and maybe he was conflicted on his path to total power, but is no longer.


A heavy bassline and similar sound to their first album musically comes on next in 'CALL ME LITTLE SUNSHINE'. This was a huge single released by the band and one that had me listen to it differently to how I heard 'Rats' from the 'Prequelle' album. I remember being in my car driving back from Westmead after a long day at work and stuck in heavy traffic. It would have been a 2.5 - 3 hour trip home and for the first hour, the only song that played on Spotify through the car was 'Rats'. With  'CALL ME LITTLE SUNSHINE', I was able to listen to it at home through headphones and pick up on the darkness that comes into the album. Papa IV has obviously made a deal with the devil to get where he is and the question is, what has he given in return?


If you enjoy your horror movies like I do, then you might recognise the next song -'HUNTER'S MOON'. No? It was used in the soundtrack and end credits of the latest Halloween reboot trilogy on Halloween Kills. I think time will be kinder to those movies because the critics didn't like the last two. This song is basically what comes from that deal with the devil made by Papa IV and having his armies take out his enemies under the cover of darkness. Similar to how Michael Myers was stalking his victims in the movies. This album has moments of heaviness, darkness and also love and light - providing that duality that is depicted on the front album artwork. It will have you playing air drums or air guitar like our kids in moments and also singing along as you hold your loved ones in the moshpit. I've heard this album through our loungeroom set-up and there is a moment on this song that it comes through the 4 x speakers, sounding intentionally faded and warped. I like it when bands do that. One that springs to mind is Black Sabbath when they intentionally speed up the song to end, making you think that your record player was busted.


A massive song to finish Side A and I would have to say, my favourite from the album - 'WATCHER IN THE SKY'. It has the best and heaviest sounding riff that brings me back to the 'Meliora' song, 'Absolution'. Our kids are playing in the house and they look up to see the old alarm system and sensors. It was never re-activated to use but the sensor still shows a red light when there is movement in our hallway and kitchen areas. Because it has a small red light, Night Kat Kiz and I liked to play a game with the kids. Everytime the red light comes on the kids believe that Santa is tapping into our internal camera system and seeing if they are being naughty or nice. It is super cute because you'll be sitting there and our son will say, "No we can't do that. We have to be good because Santa is watching". I thought I'd mention that on this song because to them, Santa is the Watcher in the Sky. I like the lyric of, "Communication is key, when you unlock to believe. Can you see what I See?". Sometimes people wont see what you see and that makes them not believe you or agree with your point of view. The song trails off with Papa IV singing over and over until the stylus hits the dead wax and the tonearm returns back to the cradle. The rain is still pelting down and fingers crossed that our place doesn't flood/leak in new ways.


Favourite lyric:

"For the dreams that you dread, ahhhh. Can become just as real. As the blood that was shed, ahhh. With the slash of his steel. Now the street walking dead, ahhhh was quite a scene, wasn't it? For the lost and mislead, ahhhh were promised seats by the pit. We will break away together, I'll be the shadow, you'll be the light. Nothing ever lasts forever. We will go softly into the night" ~ Respite on the Spitalfields - Side B

Side B is the announcement of that New Age arriving in the form of instrumental, 'DOMINION'. It has trumpets playing and made our children turn and look up at the speaker. Did Papa IV kill off all of his challengers? Who knows. But he is having fun on the next song and is probably the one that will have you up and dancing the most on the album. 'TWENTIES' is not talking about the 1920s but the 2020's! The shitshow that is happening in the world over the last few years and how some people are celebrating and how some people are rebuilding. It also shows the first time (I think) that Ghost swears on a song - "Listen Up, you motherfuckers. Those Ivy League dopes, they wanna mock us. Tell 'em all this is war and not fighting a war is for suckers". Even though the overall feeling of the song is upbeat and jovial, it has some dark vocals and lyrics. That guitar and bass line backing the song really gets the heads nodding. What will the 2030's bring?


Our daughter has been growing up so much this week. As she walks out of daycare she says, "bye friends, see you morrow". She even waves at her lunchbox or toys and says, "bye food, see you morrow". Ouch. I have struggled typing this week's spin because I thonged the biggest, egg carrying mumma of a cockroach that left our sons room this week. The kids were screaming as it high stepped its way down the hallway. I hit it hard on the tiles and the vibration went back up through my pointer finger - not breaking it, but jarring it to the point of swelling and stiffness. At least I saved Night Kat Kiz as it was gunning for her in the kitchen.


I haven't listed out all of the Nameless Ghouls yet so please see below to get an understanding of how grand their live show is. They are Nameless, but over the last album or two as the band has expanded, fans have given them these nicknames. They seem to play what instrument is required and move around a bit during a live show. Fire - Lead Guitar

Rain - Bassist

Cumulus - Keyboards, Tambourine, Backing vocals

Cirrus - Keyboards, Tambourine

Mountain - Drums

Phantom - Rhythm Guitar

Swiss - guitarist, tambourine, backing vocals, saxophone

Aurora - Tambourine and backing vocals


The next two songs often get overlooked by fans but I really love them and how they fit in on the album. Is that a vibraphone? Is Bobby Hutcherson in the building? It sounds like it as Papa IV is now softening his approach on 'DARKNESS AT THE HEART OF MY LOVE' and I'm not too sure of the backstory on this one. Does he know that his time is coming to an end? In an arena full of passionate fans in the moshpit, you can visualise the crowd would be swaying in unison to this one. The band is currently editing footage from their LA shows to release a movie and provide the next chapter in the story of Ghost. I'm excited to see what direction they will go in and grateful that we are getting to see it in our lifetime. I have to keep reminding myself that we need to remember not to take life too seriously and appreciate the moments that we are experiencing now. There is always going to be bad in our lives and the trick is to not let that darkness consume us - "There's darkness at the heart of my love, that runs cold, runs deep. The darkness at the heart of my love, So bold, so sweet".


Probably my second favourite song on the album and that might be a very unpopular choice amongst fans. My reasoning for choosing 'GRIFTWOOD' is because it will always hold a special memory for me. Holding Night Kat Kiz in our loungeroom, slow dancing to it on the first night we spun this back in 2022. The world being unknown and that reassurance to each other that we wont stop fighting for this family. The song has that '80s feeling and lyrically is so fun to sing along too whilst holding your loved one. I mean, who doesn't like singing, "I'm your rock baby, I won't back down". Night Kat Kiz knows that is true and we make decisions in life to try and better ourselves and our kids future. I like the bassline particularly on this song and maybe you'll be able to pick it up clearer using some decent headphones. They should have played this song live! Ahhhhh!


Yesterday our son went to his first birthday party of a friend in his new school and he had the best time. The kids were all at a gym/obstacle course place and building their friendships, while never tiring. Hopefully it helps him become a little bit more comfortable at school drop off because his friends are there. 'BITE OF PASSAGE' is the shortest instrumental on the album and really acts as the introduction to final song, 'RESPITE ON THE SPITALFIELDS'. They played this song last at their live show (before an encore of course). Sad to think that Papa IV has sung this one for the last time live and he mentioned that in his final show in Australia. The drumming of 'Mountain' on this one has me drumming along and is a very big song to end the album on. Great one to sing last at shows because they literally sing, "We're leaving this city, so this is farewell". I hope that Ghost and Sleep Token pair up for a world tour - that would be something. Respite on the Spitalfields is the longest song on the album and if it ended up being the bands final song forever, I feel it would be pretty fitting. I know Forge is planning big things in 2024 but how long will he keep the band going for? I hope for a long long time but I'm realistic. There is a lot of planning and work that goes into every album and tour. The final lyrics sung linger in my mind, "We will break away together, I'll be the shadow, You'll be the light. Nothing ever lasts forever, we will go softly into the night". The song fades out to silence and the tonearm returns back to the cradle to let our little family know that another spin has been completed.


I was eager to spin this weeks album and you might be able to tell in my writing. Sometimes the music is so good, it is easy to write about. I hope that you grab yourself a copy of this album or listen to it over the next few days. Make sure you play it through good, loud speakers in order to get the most out of the record. Give your loved ones a big hug, appreciate these moments and don't be so hard on yourselves ok. It's a cold, wet and rainy day - make yourselves another cuppa and relax. You deserve it.


Until our next Spin, be Kind to Papa Emeritus IV (he might not be around much longer) and be Kind to your Wax!


"You are never truly alone. Wherever you are, you have ghost, and if you have ghost, you have everything" - Cardinal Copia

 

YEAR RELEASED

2022

PRODUCED BY

KLAS AHLUND

LABEL

LOMA VISTA

PRICE RANGE

$50+AUD

SPEED PLAYED AT

33 1/3 RPM

ALBUM BEFORE

PREQUELLE (2018)

ALBUM AFTER

N/A AT TIME OF WRITING

FURTHER LISTENING

PHANTOMIME EP (2023)

FAVOURITE SONG

WATCHER IN THE SKY

RATING OUT OF 5

5

WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECORD SLEEVE

1 X TRANSPARENT BLUE LP, 1 X BOOKLET WITH LYRICS AND ILLUSTRATIONS FOR EACH SONG, POSTER FROM UTOPIA RECORDS IN SYDNEY


TRACK LISTING

LP / SIDE

SONG

TRACK LENGTH

​SIDE A

IMPERIUM

1:40


KAISARION

5:02


SPILLWAYS

3:16


CALL ME LITTLE SUNSHINE

4:44


HUNTER'S MOON

3:16


WATCHER IN THE SKY

5:48

SIDE B

DOMINION

1:22


TWENTIES

3:46


DARKNESS AT THE HEART OF MY LOVE

4:58


GRIFTWOOD

5:16


BITE OF PASSAGE

0:31


RESPITE ON THE SPITALFIELDS

6:42



GHOST performing live up on stage in Sydney 2023





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