The packaging and presentation are absolutely top-notch. From the stunning artwork by Zbigniew M. Bielak to the goodies that come with the record. Not only is there a fully illustrated lyric book but also a custom turntable mat with the album artwork. I’ve never seen a vinyl release with such cool extras as this. The record itself is also a beautiful translucent blue.
However, Impera was released under the record label Loma Vista, who are infamous for their shoddy pressings. This album is sadly no exception as the audio quality isn’t the worst I’ve heard from a newly pressed vinyl, but it’s certainly not great. Thankfully the music is just too good that you can enjoy it despite the pressing.
Impera is one of my favorite releases from this year. Ghost sets out to do so much and succeeds with flying colors. For those unfamiliar, Ghost is a concept band centered around the idea of delivering Satan’s message to the masses. Now the creator of the band has gone on record saying that he (like many Satanists) doesn’t actually believe in or worship the devil, rather he uses the imagery and lore to convey critiques and messages about a variety of topics ranging from organized religion to politics, both of which are topics found in this album.
Another thing that may throw people off at first is that despite the traditionally heavy metal imagery, the band often dips into other genres including pop rock, ballads, and once even surf rock. Impera starts off with possibly its most high-energy track, "Kaisarion," which happens to be one of my favorites as well. "Respite on The Spitalfields" continues the trend of Ghost albums ending on an epic note, and this one might just take the crown. The song is generally about an empire that is in the midst of falling, though what that empire is or represents is left up to interpretation with some clues pointing you in the intended direction. The song also ends with the same riff found in the intro to the album, musically tying the record together as well as implying thematically an endless cycle of empires rising and falling.
There is an absurd amount I skimmed over and I could write an essay about every track on the album, between the masterful musicianship, songwriting, and deep lyrical content. Fans of rock, metal, and all things alternative music owe it to themselves to give it a listen.
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