Gazpacho // March of Ghosts
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Like a refreshing tomato-based vegetable soup on a warm, Spanish day.
Release Dates: EU: 2012.03.12 | US: 03.12.2012
Gazpacho has to be the worst name for a band ever. The soup itself is frankly a little on the unexciting side as it is, being a vegetable soup served cold. It’s actually Spanish or Portuguese, isn’t it? Being Norwegian, couldn’t they have chosen say, lefse or something? Not only is it tastier (Mmm, a bit of sugar and butter and I’m a Happy Metal Guy! NOMNOMNOM!), but it’s Norwegian! Like the band! Get it!? Well, anyway, needless to say I was less than stoked to actually dig my ear-fingers into this record. How could a band that can’t come up with a decent band name come up with good music? I mean, this is an existential question… really.
It’s good that I’m not allowed to review records by looking at the cover of the record, in any case (also, lefse is a stupid name for a band). And it’s good that I listened to the album instead of casting it aside, because this vegetable soup that’s generally served cold is actually quite delicious. Surprisingly refreshing, one could say… *cough* Gazpacho makes a type of progressive/post artsy alternative rock that is similar to Marillion, Anathema, Kent or Porcupine Tree. It’s slow, plodding post-rock with melancholy melodies, diverse instruments and wistful vocals. Vocalist Jan-Henrik Ohme serenades listener with a voice that actually is a little reminiscent in tone of A-ha‘s vocalist Morten Harkat and in melodic content of Kent‘s Joakim Berg.
But these guys aren’t exactly what I would call the most predictable of bands, even if they fit into the “post-rock progressive” category ostensibly. There is a sense of creativity and experimentation that I enjoy on here with unusual melodies and even on one occasion breaking into medieval sounding flutes on the track “Mary Celeste” á la Jethro Tull‘s Songs from the Wood. On other occasions, the use of orchestra and beautiful harmonies create lush walls of sound that enchant the listener like on “Golem” and “Black Lily”. Despite being calm, soothing music that doesn’t ever burst out into extreme outbursts, there’s a subtle sense of adventurism that comes through.
March of the Ghosts, the band’s 7th record and second on KScope, is what I would call a really good record (I mean it!). I love the instrumentation and the writing and the band’s hybrid progressive sound definitely fits in with labelmates Porcupine Tree and Anathema, which is a great compliment to the band. I am especially in love with the four intertwined tracks “Hell Freezes Over” I-IV, which have a really beautiful, anthemic chorus that finally culminates in something that borders on “heavy” on the final track of the album. These four songs probably would have made a stellar EP—though I’m not complaining about the rest of the record either, for while it does not pave a lot of new territory, it is something that I guarantee I will be back to in times when I need lighter alternatives (Like a refreshing vegetable soup, generally served cold…) to my usually very heavy listening habits.