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Gazpacho - March of Ghosts CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.03 | 474 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'm slightly surprised that there have been so few reviews of this album, the latest from this classy Norwegian act, because it most certainly has garnered exclusively positive reviews from across the prog and rock world.

The praise is deserved, and all the more so since this bunch have released March Of Ghosts on the back of three exceptional albums in Night, Tick Tock, and Missa Atropas.

This album is not a pure concept, but rather a collection of stories which, as the title suggests, revolve around encounters with ghoulie ghosties and things that go bump in the night. As with previous releases, the band bring together the themes brilliantly, and on this, the album is wound around four tracks called Hell Freezes Over, much in the same way as Marillion did with Marbles, which was not, contrary to popular opinion, a concept album. All four of these tracks are superb, but I swear that the third one was coated with sheer emotion prior to being released and played through my speakers.

Of course, we have noted in the past similarities between Hogarth-era Marillion and this band, a fact openly and keenly acknowledged by Gazpacho themselves, although, for the life of me, I really do not see the similarity between Jan Henrik Ohme's vocals and Steve Hogarth's. For a start, one sounds English to his core, whilst the other is Nordic. Perhaps it's me, but I think on this album the overt musical similarities are not so profound as on previous releases. Oh, for sure, there is the commonality in that the band utilise complex soundscapes and are able to manage that very difficult trick of allowing the music itself to convey the same powerful emotions as the vocals & lyrics, but in terms of the sound of the album, this is very clearly the sound of a band with extreme confidence taking forward their influences, writing, and performing experience, and melding all into something unique. This is an album which sounds like Gazpacho, and none other.

For no better example, take What Did I Do?, a track which evokes the painful memory and emotion of a poor lost soul, with a choral vocal and plaintive violin accompanying a musical backdrop which, on the first few listens, sounds like a collection of simple chords, but is, in reality, a mood all in itself.

There are some very nice Celtic sounds immersed in the work, and overall, the feel of the album is, despite the title and subject matter, a much more uplifting offering than previous ones. The performances are never less than excellent, and the production is just what you would expect; superb and crystal clear.

I will not review this track by track, because I feel that this is an album which has to be experienced as a whole, and it is, in reality, a collection of songs which merges into one (again, just like Marbles). However, I will say that if I hear a better track this year than Gold Star, a lush track which segues from a lilting Celtic opening into a more heavy and reflective piece, and one which is deceptively commercial, then it will be a very good track indeed. Further, Marie Celeste is so good, it takes you to the deck of that doomed vessel, and is recorded as a folk prog track, with natural and native Celtic sounds right to the fore. The violin simply cries, and the guitar riffs and crashing bass & drums evoke the disaster perfectly. Simply brilliant.

To summarise, this is another excellent release by an excellent band, and the way that they are progressing and developing, it can surely only be a matter of time before they release a masterpiece that will blow the collective socks off of the prog world. As it is, this comes pretty damn close, and the only rider I will attach to this is that it is an album which needs to be listened to a number of times, and requires patience and a deep appreciation of the emotion that music can bring. Not many will "get it" the first couple of listens.

There are eleven tracks here, with the longest at just over six minutes in length, but, as noted before, in reality what we have here is 50 minutes of music, to be enjoyed as one.

Four stars for this. Very highly recommended from one of the finest modern prog bands around.

lazland | 4/5 |


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