10 things we learned about the new Ghost album from Tobias Forge

Ghost’s Tobias Forge
(Image credit: Press/Jimmy Hubbard)

Metal Hammer Ghost cover

(Image credit: Future)

Ghost’s new album Impera is shaping up to be the biggest drop of 2022. The songs we’ve heard from it so far – the creepy Hunter’s Moon and blockbusting Call Me Miss Sunshine – suggest evil mastermind Tobias Forge has gone all out to deliver a set of absolute bangers that make 2018’s epic Prequelle sound as grandiose as a mouse farting into a tiny cotton handkerchief in comparison.

To celebrate, Tobias appears on the cover of the brand new issue of Metal Hammer in full Papa Emeritus IV guise. We flew to Seattle ahead of Impera’s release on March 4 to get the full lowdown on the album of Ghost’s career straight from the ghoul’s mouth. This is what we learned…

Metal Hammer line break

Relax. Tobias still hates the world

Tobias may have changed up his Papa Emeritus persona, but some things remain the same. “I’m a misanthrope,” he tells us with a laugh. “I like people that I like and I hate others! I was like that even before [the pandemic].”

Rammstein are the benchmark Tobias is aiming for this time out

While Impera sounds absolutely nothing like the German industrial-metal pyromaniacs, Tobias holds up Rammstein’s unlikely global success as a goal to aim towards.

“It’s motivating for me to see how a band that were doing arenas up until a couple of years ago now play stadiums,” he says. “They put on a show, as opposed to Pearl Jam, who go out in street-wear and play on a carpet. I’d see Rammstein as the sort of guidepost that I’m working towards.”

Tobias found inspiration for Impera in an anarchist bookshop

Tobias was shopping in an “anti-authoritarian” bookshop in Seattle when he came across a book called The Rule Of Empires.

“I’m interested in history and culture, and how empires are built up,  and how and why they always fall apart,” he says. “Right there and then, I knew that at some point, ‘I’m going to make an imperial record.’

Opening track Kaisarion gives it the full “Fall Of The Roman Empire”

That song was inspired by the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, who died at age 17 during one of the bloodiest periods in Roman history. “Kaisarion is this almost-euphoric call-to-arms to burn everything old and come up with something new. It’s supposed to sound like a big pep talk but it has the darkest lyrics ever. Even darker than some of the things that I’ve written before.”

Another new song sees Tobias taking aim at Flat-Earthers

The song Watcher In The Sky is takedown of those who deny science in order to serve their own needs, including Flat-Earthers and religious fundamentalists.

He mocks their tinfoil-hatted perspective: “‘How can we take this round planet and flatten it? Because that fits our linear concept better. We’re not going to use these telescopes to look for stars, we’re gonna look for God! And maybe we can use it to communicate with God because we have something important to tell him.’ Like, complete stupidity.”

One of the biggest musical inspirations? Def Leppard

Yup, you heard that right. Tobias has been listening to the British hard rock titans, of Pour Some Sugar On Me fame.

“I thought I would see if I could do it a little more like Def Leppard did it, where every song starts with one thing, and then there’s a verse, then there’s a pre-chorus that feels like a chorus, and then there’s another pre-chorus and after, like, five different sections, comes the chorus, in a completely different key. It’s such a riot! I’m not saying that as a surprise – I think they were great.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber? Him too

West End and Broadway musicals are an even more unlikely Impera. Tobias freely admits that new songs such as Twenties and the Jack The Ripper-referencing Respite On The Spitalfields owe a debt to Phantom Of The Opera and Cats composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“I love a lot of his stuff. So many other Broadway shows aren’t nearly as hit-driven as his stuff was, like Phantom Of The Opera or Memory [from Cats]. That stuff is unbelievably fucking good.”

Ed Sheeran had a weird effect on him

One of Tobias’ first post-lockdown gigs was watching Ed Sheeran play to 500 people at “this little corporate gig.” It had a weird effect on him. “It felt like, ‘Whoa…’. I don’t like big, rowdy places. He did, like, seven songs but it felt like I’d seen four bands. I was like, ‘Fuck, I’m dying. I just wanna get out of here!”

Impera features a “wall of guitars”

Tobias says he finds it amusing that people still view Ghost’s debut album Opus Eponymous as the ‘heavy one’. “That’s the one that absolutely had the least guitars,” he says. “And it was so sparse! Whereas there’s literally been a wall of guitars on the last four records.”

Tobias is already thinking about the next Ghost album after Impera

Ghost Chapter V has only just started, but Chapter VI may not be that far off. “The way that I see it is that this album cycle is going to connect back-to-back on the next one, because now I know that I already have another record in me that I want to make,” he says. “What happens after that, I can’t say…”

The brand new issue of Metal Hammer, featuring Ghost on the cover, is out now.

Ghost on the new issue of Metal Hammer

(Image credit: Future)
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