Gazpacho - DemonIt’s no use making fun of Gazpacho for the name. I did that once already and unfortunately they’re still named after a type of tomato soup. While this tomato soup isn’t cursed, it does contain MSG, which is about as close to ‘metal’ as one needs to get to be reviewed here at AMG. Or well…, I guess this introduction is going nowhere and I should probably move on. So let’s make a long story short: I really dug these Norwegian proggers’ 2012 release March of the Ghosts, which offered up a slab of what I like to call “post-Floyd prog rock.” With this, I mean, they like soundscapes, they like melody, they’re moody as shit, and they can do basically whatever they want when they’re writing songs, but they don’t head off down flute-and-LSD-driven corridors of abstractness like many think of when they think of “prog.” I’m gonna guess these guys are into downers, not hallucinogens.

Case in point? Demon. While the four-track album isn’t surprising at all—it still blends ‘alt’ rock and prog sounds to form something that sounds like a sweet blend of KentRadioheadAnathema, and Porcupine Tree, the build and form is quite different from its predecessor March of the GhostsDemon is a solemn record, chock full of deeply moving melodies and instrumentation more fitting on a Beirut record than in reference to the metal that we normally review. The feel is morose at times, but delicate, bittersweet, and heart wrenching in its beauty.

There are even moments where these Norwegian proggers knock out some heavy riffs — like on “I’ve Been Walking (pt. 1),” where these old guys lay down a fat groove with thick tone. Though few and far between, these moments help to punctuate the genius that is Demon. It doesn’t hurt the effort at all that vocalist Jan-Henrik Ohme has such an evocative voice, and the band certainly takes advantage of him and multi-instrumentalist Mikael Krømer’s mad violin skillz to make the writing here haunting. On top of these two, the guitar tone and bass heavy nature of the music helps to create an otherworldly feel that is hard to match.

Gazpacho (2014)-web

Demon is like a dark, surrealist painting. It’s dour, twisted, and it zigs where zagging would normally occur, using the variety of styles that the band is able to navigate with ease to create momentary joy or crushing depression. While it’s seemingly familiar, it’s simultaneously so layered that you never really quite feel that you have a complete grasp of what’s in front of your face. “The Wizard of Atlai Mountain” drops a klezmer wedding dance on you, while “I’ve Been Walking (pt. 2)” is a chilling soundscape; sad, fragile, beautiful and deep — dropping both opera samples and bass heavy riffing. Every time you hear the Demon, something new stands out from the woodwork.

It should be noted that it certainly doesn’t hurt that the production on Demon is amazeballs, and with the final product/mastering job clocking in at a DR11 (two 10s and two 12s) it has the space to breathe and the listening experience on my monitors, and even in my earbuds (!) was incredible (I’d’ve liked punchier drums at times, but that’s quibbling). The room to breathe and the noticeable textures mean that this is the kind of record that should be purchased so that you’ve got hi-res files and can get the most out of your listening experience. And it’s nice to know that the digital master for the CD is this good, instead of saving that shit for vinyl like somehow only people who buy vinyl like music for real.

All-in-all, the abstract nature of Demon, but the sense of familiarity and deep beauty, makes it remarkably easy to get in. This despite having tracks at 10, 12 and 18 minutes. The simplicity, fragility, yet depth, makes for an addicting and gripping listening experience. Every listen to brings forth new experiences, new ideas, new emotions and a repeated sense of having found that amazing listening experience that you’re going to love for years to come. Between this and the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack, I won’t have to hear a new record for months!

 


Rating: 4.5/5.0
Label: Kscope
DR: 11
Format: FLAC and ALAC (and 320 kbps mp3s as promo, hooray!)
Release Dates: US: 04.15.2014 | UK: 2014.03.25 | EU: 2014.04.15
Websites: gazpachoworld.com | kscopemusic.com/gazpacho

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  • nunka

    I love it when you dip outside metal and find stuff like this for us, AMG. Fucking brilliant shit.

  • Realkman666

    Sounds brilliant, but it’s only on preorder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Ah ah, I think recording quality will simply force me to discover more diverse music. xD

  • Jan Henrik Ohme

    Thank you, mr Angry Metal Guy. ^^
    It’s a treat to get reviews by people who actually know their sh*t. ;)
    Jan Henrik

  • André Snyde Lopes

    This is great. As I listen to it, it kind of reminds me of a calm and non-batshit-crazy Diablo Swing Orchestra.

  • alexfranquelli

    I’ve seen them live and they are one of the most boring acts ever. I’ll give this album a chance though.

    • Plenty of amazing bands are shit live. The studio is such a different thing.

  • bucaneer

    This sounds great! You mention FLAC – is that a special reviewer privilege, or is there some way to buy a lossless download of the album? The band is not on Bandcamp, so that exhausts my list of places to look.

    • I purchased the CD and ripped it myself. :)

      • FutureBeyondSatan

        This is good soup. You are right, Lefse would be an awful name…

  • Tanuki

    Really enjoyed these guy’s since Night. Totally missed this release!. thanks for the heads-up. good to see them back with something new.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    hmm nice, I’d recommend you check out Aussie band ‘Augie March’ they really have a sound and lyricism very much in the spirit of the song posted above. In fact it seemed to me that ‘Wizard of…’ could be an Augie March song, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on which one. Great stuff will definitely check out he album.

  • basenjibrian

    Thanks, AMG. I also downloaded Beirut to give them a listen.
    I like this kind of somber, folky music. One of my favorite other bands is ROME, the solo project out of Luxembourg.

    • Will definitely check Rome. I love that kind of somber, folk-influenced stuff myself.

  • Rahamat Jahan

    I’m not getting the music so far but it’s working as a nice background music for now.

  • Rich Schwiing Bendall

    I couldn’t really get into this album when you posted the review but I think it might have been because I was still reeling from a Triptykon inspired haze. I bought Gazpacho’s 2007 album Night and its fast getting me addicted. Really good stuff.

  • Tom

    Good on you AMG for listing the format you review in! I think its
    important to factor in dynamic range too. I wish more mags/pubs would do
    the same. I’m likely slow on the uptake, but kudos nonetheless. Another deposit shall be made to Gazpacho’s coffers, too.

  • Felipe Mendes Tacla

    This band is absolutely amazing. Both this and “Night” are some of the best and most beautiful progressive music I’ve ever heard. I think I’ll need to get my copy of “March of Ghosts” asap! And [I] wouldn’t be upset in the least if “Demon” won the Album of the Year “award”, it certainly would not be undeserved… Excellent review, btw!