I am still constantly surprised by the amount of bands there are around the world surviving and even flourishing under the radar and carving out a niche of their own to make the music they want to make.
Norway's Gazpacho are a case in point, 'Demon' being their eighth studio album since their debut in 2003! Described sometimes as art rock and on one occasion as "classical post ambient nocturnal atmospheric neo-progressive folk world rock" they don't make albums for the mainstream and are all the more interesting for it.
This is a band who are fond of the concept album format and on this occasion have made an album featuring just four songs varying in length from just five minutes to over eighteen minutes and based on a rambling manuscript left by an anonymous writer in rented rooms in Prague. The story is of someone who has lived for an unnaturally long time pursuing some malevolent force he calls 'The Demon'. Don't expect to find any jokes or rock cliches here, this is dark, desolate, dramatic and atmospheric music which demands your attention.
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Although this album is separated into four 'songs' it really works best as a piece of continuous flowing music. From the start of opening track 'I've Been Walking Part 1' to the epic closing passages of 'Death Room' this is a band and an album that takes you on a journey through a dark but beautiful musical landscape with plenty of beautifully atmospheric keyboard and guitar hooks and plaintive, melodic vocals soaked in longing and occasionally fear.
There is the occasional section or series of notes which remind you of Radiohead or even Muse in reflective mode as well as nods to the prog epics of the past. However when the album builds up to the unsettling dischordant overtones and melancholy dark melodies of 'Death Room' you can't help but be impressed and wonder how a band this good have escaped your notice. Well they escaped my notice anyway!
Verdict: This album was yet another pleasant surprise to me. If you like your music dark and epic in a prog rock style rather than a metal one this could be an album you'd enjoy. I think it really is worth a listen to anyone who enjoys beautiful music which can also creep you out!
Jan-Henrik Ohme - vocals
Jon-Arne Vilbo - guitars, programming
Thomas Andersen - keyboards, programming
Mikael Krømer - violin, additional guitar, programming
Lars Erik Asp - drums, percussion
Kristian Torp - bass guitar